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December 25, 2020

Actors Who Played Santa Claus through the Years — Who Is Your Favorite?

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Many actors have given the iconic character a try, but only a few have made a lasting impression on the collective conscious. These are some of our personal favorites.

American filmgoers have a very typical image formed about the personification of Christmas himself, Santa Claus, but every once in a while, an actor leaves his mark in the people’s imagination by appropriating the character.

Some of the following actors made a lasting impression because of the depth and fidelity to tradition that they add to the role, while others remain remarkable for doing exactly the opposite.

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PAUL GIAMATTI

53-year-old Golden Globe winner and very versatile actor Paul Giamatti had a chance to portray Santa Claus in the 2007 film “Fred Claus,” playing the title’s character brother.

Played by Vince Vaughn, Fred in the title is an ex-convict that is bailed out of jail and taken back to the North Pole by Santa Claus, who happens to be his older brother.

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KURT RUSSELL

69-year-old Kurt Russell was first cast as Santa Claus in the 2018 Netflix film “The Christmas Chronicles” in which the character along with his two children, saves Christmas.

Russell played an energetic and modern version of Santa Claus with such success that he returned to reprise the role in 2020’s “The Christmas Chronicles 2,” this time sharing the screen with his longtime partner Goldie Hawn.

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TIM ALLEN

In 1994’s “The Santa Clause,” 67-year-old Golden Globe-winning actor Tim Allen played an ordinary man named Scott Calvin who accidentally kills the actual Santa Claus and becomes legally obliged to take over the role.

To add further comic effect to the already absurd situation, Calvin undergoes a physical transformation to look the part, causing all kinds of funny situations. Allen reprised the role in the film’s two sequels.

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RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH

Late English actor Richard Attenborough didn’t have to change his look much to become Santa Claus in the 1994 remake of the film of the same name “Miracle on 34th Street.”

The movie follows real Santa Claus as he disguises himself as Kris Kringle, a man who works as a department store Santa during the holidays and ends up trying to prove his true identity in front of the law.

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BILLY BOB THORNTON

65-year-old Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton played probably the most cynical and the darkest version of “Santa Claus” ever pictured on film, and we add the quotes because he actually played one of many mall Santas.

We are talking, of course, about the 2003 film “Bad Santa,” by acclaimed independent filmmaker Terry Zwigoff, in which Thornton played a criminal with a scheme to rob a mall. He reprised the role in the 2016 sequel.

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