Violent Night is a weird Christmas miracle of a movie. An action movie starring Santa as a sledgehammer-wielding warrior sounds like some strange B-movie that’d be consigned to a supermarket DVD bargain bin.
Yet, despite all the violence, Violent Night manages to be a surprisingly heartwarming Christmas movie.
The film tells the story of Santa Claus (David Harbour) who’s grown bored of giving gifts to boys and girls and resents his seemingly endless task. When a little girl, Trudie (Leah Brady), and her family are taken hostage by the evil Mr Scrooge (John Leguizamo), Santa must rediscover his Christmas spirit to save the day.
I loved Violent Night (Check out our Violent Night review if you don’t believe me). So we were delighted when we got the opportunity to speak to John Leguizamo and peel back the layers on his Santa-hating villain.
The Digital Fix: Congratulations on playing my favourite Christmas movie bad guy since Hans Gruber. Why did you want to play a bad guy?
John Leguizamo: Oh, well, I love this script. I thought it was so out there, so outrageous, so fearless in a lot of ways to take on Santa Claus. I got to give myself a little credit. I mean, I’ve allowed myself to be hated by a lot of kids this Christmas. But if I do my job right, that’s what’s going to happen. They’re going to hate me.
I just thought the challenge to this role was how do I make this guy really smart? Really respected by the audience? You don’t have to like me or love me, that’s not the point, but can they respect me? Can I keep the tension? Can I still be funny without being silly or ridiculous? And I think I accomplished that.
TDF: Of course, the kids will love you, John. You’re Bruno!
TDF: Was it difficult to film a fight scene where you’re punching the shit out of Santa Claus?
JL: I mean, it was not easy. David Harbour is six-foot-five, and he gained a tonne of weight. He’s a skinny guy, and he gained a tonne of weight to be Santa, like 300 pounds. So he was not easy to shove around, push, or punch.
It was minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and in Winnipeg! We started shooting at 2 am for two nights, you know, till like 6 or 7 am. Yeah, I was in pain, but it was I thought it came out beautiful. We have 50 movements system and 50 punches.
David Leitch, who produced the movie, is one of the greatest stunt coordinators in the history of stunting. He did The Matrix, he did 300, and he oversaw this, so I knew I was going to look good.
TDF: You also get one of the best lines in the movie, “bah humbug mother fucker”
JL: [laughs] Thank you. Thank you. That was my ad-lib. Yeah… Oh, thank you.
TDF: I’m gonna pivot slightly. What was the best Christmas present you ever got?
JL: Oh, wow, that’s a dope question. My best Christmas present I ever got. I mean, you know, I’m a sentimental guy. So you know, being with my whole entire family, my kids, you know, at home and having caviar you know, just having a great time with my kids is everything for me.
Violent Night is in cinemas now.