It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
And to help you get even more into the festive spirit, we’re looking back on one of our favorite holiday movies: “The Santa Clause.”
Since its release in 1994, “The Santa Clause” has been an instant classic. However, what most people don’t know is that the film almost didn’t star Tim Allen. At the time, producers were hesitant he could lead a box office movie since he was mainly known for his hit television series, “Home Improvement.” But could you imagine the film with Mel Gibson, Bill Murray or any other actor?
What’s more? Back in 2018, he revealed during an appearance on “The Tonight Show” that the original script wasn’t as light-hearted. Instead, he claimed it featured a dark storyline, one in which Santa Claus was involved in a violent death. Yes, you read that right. Not exactly the Kris Kringle you know and love.
We’re just scratching the surface about the Disney classic. So before you snuggle up in your favorite ugly holiday sweater and warm up some hot chocolate to rewatch “The Santa Clause,” read through the film’s 25 secrets below…
1. The original name of the movie was “Such a Clatter.”
2. Other actors considered for the role of Scott Calvin/Santa Claus were major stars like Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson, according to an interview first-time film director John Pasquin gave on the “Grunt Work” podcast. And it was Bill Murray who was reportedly the top candidate. But after starring in the Christmas classic comedy “Scrooged,” Murray “had no interest in pursuing another holiday-themed project,” shared Pasquin.
3. But producers weren’t totally sold on Tim Allen despite “Home Improvement’s” wild popularity. In a 2011 episode of “Biography” screenwriters Steve Rudnick and Leo Benvenuti shared that producers claimed Allen “can’t open a movie, he’s a TV star.”
4. Allen’s “Home Improvement” wife Patricia Richardson and “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Patricia Heaton were considered for the role of Laura, but Wendy Crewson ultimately landed the role of Scott’s ex-wife.
5. Judge Reinhold nabbed the part of Laura’s spouse (and Scott’s nemesis) Neal Miller, though Jeff Daniels, Stanley Tucci, and Bradley Whitford were considered. He would go on to appear in all three films.
6. The hardest role to cast was Charlie, Scott’s son, as they were looking for a child actor between the ages of 6 and 9, “who had sensitivity” casting director Renee Rousselot shared and was “able to really access those emotions, but have a real innocence about him.” The production team launched open auditions in 13 different cities before finding Eric Lloyd.
7. During filming of the original movie, Lloyd had to wear dentures after knocking out his front teeth when he went to a baseball game with his family. Oh, and that poster image of Scott and Charlie? It wasn’t actually Lloyd’s body, with the actor revealing on Reddit in 2014, “It’s some other kid standing behind a cutout of Tim Allen. And they just put my face on it. So they didn’t have to pay me for another day.”
8. The original script was much darker, with Scott actually shooting Santa Claus as he believed he was a robber. However, Allen revealed on “The Tonight Show” in 2018 that DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg “was adamant, ‘We can’t start a movie like that.'”
9. Peter Boyle plays Scott’s boss in the first film but would go on to star in the next two movies as a different character: Father Time.
10. Allen’s “Home Improvement” co-star Jimmy Labriola (Benny) makes a brief appearance in the film as a truck driver Scott and Charlie ask a question from while they are in the sleigh.
11. Allen underwent four to five hours of makeup and prosthetic applications to transform in Santa (and that doesn’t count the two hours it took to take it all off) and had to wear multiple fat suits during filming, which took place in the middle of summer. “You can’t describe how maddening the process is,” Allen said of getting into character as Kris Kringle, calling it “terrible.” Because of the latex, Allen experienced heat rashes, scars, scratches and infections.
12. There was a time limit on how long Allen could be in the suit while filming, maxing out at six hours because of the poor ventilation. “They got better and better at air-conditioning me, just keeping me calm,” Allen told ABC News of the later films.
13. Casting real children as the North Pole’s elves proved a bit challenging for Allen, who was known to improvise on set. “You didn’t want the kids around when Tim got going,” actress Crewson said on “Biography.” “He would go on these hilarious rants, streaked through with obscenity.” This lead to production pulling their star away for the occasional “time out” when he seemed close to cursing.
14. Allen had to go back and re-record many of his lines because of the sounds the bells on the Santa suit made. He later explained he had to use Automatic Dialog Replacement for most of that film because people [said], ‘What’s all that ringing?’ And it was me walking.”
15. While filming, Allen was also writing his first book, so “any break I had, I had a guy in my trailer, like, ‘So can we get started with work?'” he shared on ABC News. “And I had just kind of left a job…that was a really stupid thing on my part.”
16. But all the hard work paid off: Allen had the No. 1 movie at the box office, the No. 1 show on TV with “Home Improvement” and was at the top of The New York Times Best-Sellers list with “Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man.”
17. The original script focused more on Charlie outside of his relationship with his dad (meaning scenes without Allen in them), but the running time was deemed too long for children so the scenes were cut. The scenes included Charlie struggling with his dad’s transition into Santa Claus and dealing with bullying at school. Overall, more than 30 minutes of footage was cut.
18. Old DVD releases of the film include a line that was later removed, with Scott making a joke about calling “1-800-SPANK-ME,” which the filmmakers did not realize was a real phone number for a sex line. Disney received complaints about children calling the number and decided to cut the line from the movie moving forward.
19. In its opening weekend in early November 1994, “The Santa Clause” debuted at No. 2 behind “Interview With a Vampire,” making $19 million, almost the same amount as the film’s total budget. But then something strange happened: It kept performing, ultimately landing at No. 1 at the box office almost one month after its premiere. By Christmas, it had made well over $100 million in the U.S. alone.
20. Given the surprise success of the first film, Disney was keen on doing a sequel, but Allen wanted to wait and make sure it would be a worthy follow-up. At one point, 16 different contributors had been involved in “The Santa Clause 2,” which finally hit theaters in 2002, with Allen almost walking away at a certain point. “We gave up. We got to the point where we all got frustrated,” he told One Guy’s Opinion. “They greenlit the script, and I said I don’t want to do this. But we pushed through.”
21. Despite continuing to work together on “Home Improvement,” Pasquin did not return to direct the follow-up films and Allen credited new director Michael Lembeck for helping make the sequel possible. “The studio and I were really disagreeing on which direction to take it if we were going to take it at all,” the star explained to “One Guy’s Opinion.” “We really didn’t think they were going to do this. We were so far apart. And then Michael came in…and made the thing. He came to the set every day with an attitude that was great.”
22. David Krumholtz (a.k.a. Bernard the Elf) revealed two surprising fans of the film: Khloe and Kim Kardashian. “They came up to me and said, ‘We’ve seen “The Santa Clause” a hundred times!'” In fact, it’s a tradition for the Kardashian family to watch the movie each Christmas Eve.
23. Krumholtz could not reprise the fan-favorite role of Bernard in the third and final film due to scheduling conflicts with his hit CBS procedural “Numbers.”
24. Kelly Preston, Jennifer Connelly and Brooke Shields were all reportedly considered for the role of Carol (aka the future Mrs. Claus) for “The Santa Clause 2,” with “Lost: star Elizabeth Mitchell ultimately being cast.
25. For the third film, “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” Martin Short joined the cast as Jack Frost, Santa’s rival. Allen and Short had previously worked together on 1997’s “Jungle 2 Jungle.”
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2021.