After 2006’s “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” actor/comedian Tim Allen, an alumnus of Seaholm High School in Birmingham and Western Michigan University, thought he was done playing Santa.
But Disney General Entertainment Content chairman Dana Walden approached Allen about portraying Santa in “The Santa Clauses,” a six-part miniseries currently airing on Disney+. The final premieres on Wednesday 14 December.
“It’s a bridge between TV episodes and movies. I said, ‘Look, just frame it for me like chapters in a book.’ It’s about the clauses about the clauses — it’s a double standard, if you will,” said Allen, 69, of Los Angeles, also known for the long-running sitcoms “Home Improvement” and “Last Man Standing,” as well as the “Toy Story” franchise.
Allen’s time as Santa began with “The Santa Clause” from 1994. In it, Santa Claus (Steve Lucescu, Allen’s stunt double) falls from the roof of Scott Calvin’s (Allen) house and disappears. Scott then becomes the new Santa.
In “Clauses”, Allen wanted to address the following question: What happened to the previous Santa Claus? Why did the elves never ask about him? Were there other wife clauses?
“The writers listened and came up with a really beautiful idea,” he said. “It ends this issue of the clauses. It had to adapt, answer some questions, point to the future, entertain kids and families. It’s not rocket science. . . . When (the writers) finished the script, (the crew) had very little time to (make) costumes for all the elves and the sets. It was like a war zone the way the crew worked to make it look the way it did. It was mind-blowing how beautiful this thing looked, given how little time we had to do this.”
Playing Santa Claus is a big responsibility for Allen.
“It’s overwhelming to the comedian in me that it’s a smart ass because I like to make jokes. In the first one, I was definitely a smart ass around the kids,” he said. “Finally, the weight of the cape, if you will … you have to give it its due. The reason I say that is there were times — certainly this one — when I walked onto the set in full regalia… (and) the crew (regardless of age) got very quiet. There was no doubt that the costume and the way they presented it affects people. It has very little to do with me. I honor that. I become that guy … it becomes organic. In the suit, I think I’m a better actor than out of it. I was blown away when I saw the look on people’s faces.”
Allen enjoyed working with Elizabeth Mitchell, aka Mrs. Claus, again.
“Where did the years go? She doesn’t seem to age… It was amazing how quickly we got back to being Mr. and Mrs. Claus. She jumped right in 100% – it was incredible, he said.
He also talked about the best parts about this miniseries. First, it took less time to put on the elf makeup and costume. He also worked with his daughter, Elizabeth Allen-Dick, 13. Allen insisted he had nothing to do with her being cast as Sandra Claus, Santa’s daughter.
“By herself, she read dialogue, which impressed the studio and the casting people that she ended up getting the job,” he said. “Every time on set, I would gravitate between ‘This is a gifted young actor’ and ‘That’s my daughter’… Every time I bring it up, none of it makes any sense… She’s a brilliant part of the show – it’s my child that I’m working with. It’s hard to describe because I didn’t see it coming. It was a surprise to both her mother (Jane Hajduk) and I. We weren’t exactly thrilled about her getting into acting because she is so good in athletics and in school; we want her to stay that way.”
Allen said it was “rigorous and magical” to play Santa again.
“The reward alone was when we saw the premiere. All of us were like, ‘Damn!'” he said. “It was put together so well, I have nothing but respect for everyone involved.”
He also wanted to acknowledge his Michigan roots.
“You have no idea what a beautiful place you are until you walk away from it,” he said. “My adopted state of California is a great (comparison) to see what a beautiful place I come from, so kudos and happy holidays to everyone in Michigan.”
Tim Allen remembers Kirstie Alley
Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress Kirstie, best known for her roles on “Cheers” and “Veronica’s Closet,” died Dec. 5 at age 71. Tim Allen worked with Alley on the 1997 comedy “For Richer, For Poorer ,” where they played a couple. He was “shocked and saddened” to hear of her death.
“She was one of the kindest, brightest, soulful people I have ever met. It was a wonderful experience working with her – she was eclectic, smart, funny and warm. I was just shocked,” Allen recalled fondly. “We played husband and wife and worked our way back to each other. It was a tremendous experience. I just felt this gap… It’s one of those empty feelings… I got really quiet and had a moment of silence myself. She really meant a lot to me. She was a wonderful person.”
IF YOU SEE: The season finale episode of “The Santa Clauses” airs Wednesday, December 14 on Disney+.