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19 Wild Behind-The-Scenes Christmas Movie Facts Most People Don't Know

Tim Allen always stayed in character while shooting The Santa Clause 2 because the child actors believed he was the real Santa.

1. In The Muppet Christmas Carol, Michael Caine insisted that the only way he'd play Scrooge was if he pretended like the Muppets were real people and that he was acting in the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Scrooge confronting a Muppet in his office
Buena Vista Pictures / Jim Henson Productions

Before shooting, director Brian Henson (Jim Henson's son) met with Michael Caine to talk about how he might portray Scrooge in the film. Caine said, "I'm going to play this movie like I'm working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink. I will never do anything Muppet-y. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me."

2. In Elf, the "Baby It's Cold Outside" shower scene wasn't actually in the original script. Director Jon Favreau learned that Zooey Deschanel was a good singer while filming, so he added it in.

Zooey's character singing in the shower and then being surprised by Buddy
New Line Cinema

In an interview, Favreau said that he wrote it into the script because Deschanel's voice reminded him of Doris Day, and her old-timey sound gave the film a magical feeling. Deschanel also recently revealed that this bathroom scene was one of her favorites to shoot in the entire movie.

3. In Die Hard, Bruce Willis's role was actually offered to 73-year-old Frank Sinatra first. Sinatra was contractually obligated to get first dibs because he starred in the film's prequel in 1968.

20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures / Arcola Pictures Corporation

This one is a little confusing, but here goes nothing: In 1968, Frank Sinatra starred in a movie called The Detective, which was based on a book. Over a decade later, a sequel to that book was published. That new book was the inspiration for the 1988 movie Die Hard, which technically made it a sequel to Sinatra's movie. Because Sinatra starred in that first movie, he was contractually obligated to get first dibs on the sequel. He was 73 at the time, so he graciously turned down the role.

4. In Jingle Jangle, the musical actually featured three different stars of Dreamgirls from the last five decades: Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, and Marisha Wallace.

Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni Rose dressed in their red suits in "Jingle Jangle," and Marisha Wallace singing on stage
Netflix / Magic Radio / youtube.com

Writer-director David E. Talbert actually spent over 20 years creating this movie, and it was inspired by several musicals from his own childhood, so it's kind of cool that it also features three real-life actors from Dreamgirls: Phylicia Rashad (Grandmother Journey) was the Broadway understudy for Deena Jones in the early '80s, Anika Noni Rose (Jessica) played Lorrell in the 2006 movie, and Marisha Wallace (who sang "Miles and Miles" on the soundtrack) played Effie on the West End in 2017.

5. In The Santa Clause 2, Tim Allen had to stay in character around the child actors, even when cameras weren't rolling, because a lot of the kids believed he was the real Santa.

Tim Allen wearing his Santa costume, holding Mrs. Claus's hand, while elves watch
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution / Walt Disney Pictures

Tim Allen revealed that playing Santa around the child actors was a huge amount of responsibility: "I didn't want to disappoint them. I had to stay in character all the time, so I couldn't swear or get mad. The elves would gaze at me all day long and ask me ridiculous questions about Christmas."

6. In Happiest Season, cowriter and director Clea DuVall based the premise of this movie on her own life because she loves Christmas films but had never seen her own experience as a lesbian reflected in them.

Hulu, Collider / youtube.com

The movie itself was sort of autobiographical. DuVall had an outline for the film, and she later asked Mary Holland, her Veep costar, if she'd help write it with her. The two never had any scenes together in Veep, but they bonded over table readings, and DuVall thought it'd be easier to write a comedy with someone else to bounce jokes and ideas off of.

7. In Home Alone, the prop department originally created a fake tarantula to put on Daniel Stern's face, but director Chris Columbus insisted on using a real one (and its name was Barry!).

Daniel Stern lying on the floor, with a tarantula on his face, screaming
20th Century Fox

There's a popular rumor that Daniel Stern had to mime his scream during the scene, but that's not actually true. The animal trainer on set told Stern he'd be fine during the scene as long as he didn't make any sudden movements. Stern responded, "But I’m going to be screaming in Barry's face. Do you think he'll feel threatened by that?!” The animal trainer simply said, "Barry doesn't have ears. He can't hear. Relax."

8. In Love Actually, they originally shot four additional storylines, one of which included the school's headmistress and her partner, who was battling a terminal illness.

Two women consoling each other and hugging in bed
Universal Pictures / Studio Canal

Writer-director Richard Curtis said the scenes ultimately had to be cut, but they were so good that he made sure they were included in the DVD extras.

Here's the DVD commentary and scene:

View this video on YouTube

Universal Pictures / youtube.com

9. In It's a Wonderful Life, writer-director Frank Capra helped create a new type of artificial snow because the then-current movie method (using cornflakes that were painted white) was too noisy when the actors had to walk in scenes.

RKO Radio Pictures / Liberty Films

At the time, it was also popular to use asbestos as snow in films (like in the poppy field scene from The Wizard of Oz). But this new technique made filming a lot easier for Capra, rather than having to film the picture and audio separately and dub it in later. It also earned Russell Shearman and his team a special Technical Achievement Award at the Oscars.

10. In A Christmas Story, Flick's tongue was actually suctioned by a hidden vacuum to give the illusion that it was frozen to the pole.

Flick sticking his tongue out and getting it stuck to the frozen pole
MGM/UA Entertainment Company / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Scott Schwartz, who played Flick, said the set directors actually put a piece of plastic over the flagpole to film this scene: "It had a little hole in it with a suction tube that went into the snow — you couldn’t see it. It was a little motor, like a small vacuum cleaner, [and] the hole's opening [in the plastic] was about the size of your pinky nail. So when you put your tongue there or finger or whatever, it just stuck."

11. In Jingle all the Way, the whole premise of the movie was actually inspired by the Cabbage Patch Kids craze from the Christmas season of 1983, when parents were literally fighting at stores to get their children these dolls.

Twentieth Century Fox / 1492 Pictures, History Channel / youtube.com

In 1983, parents were camping out at stores to make sure they got their children Cabbage Patch Kids for Christmas. When doors opened to stores, adults would get into physical fights over the dolls, and some people were even trampled on, resulting in broken bones.

12. In Last Holiday, the deluxe hotel that Queen Latifah's character stayed at, called Grandhotel Pupp, is actually a real hotel in the Czech Republic.

Georgia checking into the hotel and admiring the ceiling
Paramount Pictures

13. In Miracle on 34th Street, the parade scenes were shot on location during the 1946 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which meant they only had one morning to film all the scenes they needed for the movie's opening.

20th Century Fox

Maureen O'Hara wrote in her autobiography that Edmund Gwenn, who won an Oscar for playing Kris Kringle in the film, was the actual Santa in the 1946 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade because that was the only way they'd be able to get the necessary shots for the movie.

14. In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, both Eddie Murphy and Jack Nicholson were originally considered for the role of the Grinch, but it ultimately went to Jim Carrey.

Jim Carrey dressed as the Grinch in a Santa costume, Eddie Murphy during his "SNL" monologue on stage, and Jack Nicholson driving a car in "The Bucket List"
Universal Pictures / NBC / Columbia Pictures

15. In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Donald Trump would only give the production team a permit to film in the Plaza Hotel (which he owned at the time) if they wrote him into the movie.

Trump in his scene in "Home Alone 2"
20th Century Fox

Matt Damon revealed that this was actually really common: "The deal was that if you wanted to shoot in one of his buildings, you had to write him in a part. Martin Brest had to write something in Scent of a Woman — and the whole crew was in on it. You have to waste an hour of your day with a bullsh*t shot: Donald Trump walks in, and Al Pacino’s like, 'Hello, Mr. Trump!' — you had to call him by name — and then he exits. You waste a little time so that you can get the permit, and then you can cut the scene out. But I guess in Home Alone 2 they left it in."

16. In It's a Wonderful Life, the entire Christmas movie was actually shot in the summer of 1946, and it occasionally got so hot that production literally had to be shut down for a few days.

The cast sweating during scenes while filming the movie
RKO Radio Pictures / Liberty Films

They filmed in 90+-degree weather, so Frank Capra and the studio would shut everything down to give people a chance to recover from heat exhaustion.

17. In Elf, Will Ferrell, Jon Favreau, and a cameraman ran through New York on the final day of shooting and interacted with people on the street to film the "Buddy discovers New York" montage. So, no, those people weren't paid extras — they were just random New Yorkers.

Buddy interacting with random New Yorkers
New Line Cinema

In Netflix's The Holiday Movies That Made Us, Greg Gardiner, the director of photography for Elf, talked about how important these random shots were because they added a sense of realness to the movie.

You can watch the full scene here:

View this video on YouTube

New Line Cinema / youtube.com

18. In Home Alone, that picture of Buzz's girlfriend was actually a picture of the art director's son wearing a wig.

Kevin looking at a picture of Buzz's girlfriend
20th Century Fox

Devin Ratray, the actor who played Buzz, admitted that the girl in the picture was actually the son of the movie's art director: "[They] decided it would be unkind to put a girl in that role of just being funny-looking. The art director had a son who was more than willing to volunteer for the part. I think if he had known it would become the highest-grossing family comedy of all time, he might have had second thoughts about it."

19. And in Love Actually, Emma Thompson actually wore a fat suit underneath her clothes throughout the entire production.

Emma Thompson's character crying and then opening up her gift with her family
Universal Pictures

Emma Thompson admitted this a few years ago, saying, "Oh, and I wore a fat suit for Love Actually — and I knew just how to play that part [of a wife who has stumbled across evidence of what might be her husband’s infidelity]. I’ve had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom and then having to go out and be cheerful, gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer.”

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