Chris Columbus has been part of our Christmas for years now—he just doesn’t know it. Watching the director, writer and producer’s films “Home Alone,” “Home Alone 2: Lost In New York” and “Jingle All the Way” during the holidays has become a tradition for us.
But we’re not just obsessed with his Christmas movies. Chris also wrote “The Goonies” and “Gremlins” and directed “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Adventures in Babysitting,” “Gremlins” and the first two Harry Potter films, which are some of our all-time favorites.
This year, he adds “The Christmas Chronicles” to the list of movies he’s helped bring to the world. (You can now stream it on Netflix.) In the film, which is directed by Clay Kaytis and produced by Chris, Kurt Russell stars as Santa Claus and takes two siblings on an exciting holiday adventure.
In this Super interview, we quiz Chris about his work, Kurt Russell as Santa Claus and his favorite Christmas movies.
Watching “Home Alone” is still a Christmas tradition for us as adults. What do you think is the secret behind its timelessness and enduring appeal?
We went into the making of “Home Alone” with the intention of creating a film that would feel timeless, that if you watched it 20-30 years after it was made, it would still feel original and fresh. So the wardrobe, the behavior of the characters had to feel timeless as well. It couldn’t feel too contemporary.
What for you makes a great Christmas movie?
A great Christmas movie has a combination of everything you’d want to feel and see—comedy, adventure, strong emotion and Kurt Russell as a Santa Claus unlike you’ve ever seen on screens before. We truly hope that this becomes a film that people will want to share with their families every Christmas.
Can you talk about the decision to cast Kurt Russell as Santa Claus?
Kurt is the definitive Santa Claus. Charismatic, tough when needed, with a wicked and edgy sense of humor. We’re really excited for audiences to see his performance onscreen and hope “The Christmas Chronicles” becomes a timeless classic.
How did you cast the kids in the film? What can you tell us about Judah Lewis and Darby Camp?
I wanted kids that felt like real people, who were relatable to other children all around the world. Judah and Darby deliver honest, naturalistic performances. They are two of the best child actors I’ve ever worked with.
What’s it like working with Netflix?
Netflix is the perfect place for this film to reach millions and millions of people all around the world. Netflix gives us the opportunity to make an original, big Christmas family movie with action, adventure, comedy and state of the art visual effects.
What can viewers expect from “The Christmas Chronicles?”
A film that you’ll want to watch over and over again, with your family and friends. A film that will make you laugh a lot and maybe bring a tear to your eye.
The movie is about two kids trying to prove Santa’s existence who end up going on a great adventure. What’s your own Santa Claus story?
What I fell in love with in this particular script was the fact that we were doing somewhat of a found-footage idea. We’re tapping into this concept that is the fantasy and wish-fulfillment of every child. I remember being a kid with a Super-8 camera, wanting to set it up on a tripod and hoping to get some footage of Santa Claus coming down the chimney. Unfortunately, I never did get the footage of Santa. But man, would my friends have been impressed if I could have actually filmed Santa and have proof that he existed? That concept fuels our movie.
Has the internet changed the way you work?
Yeah, as a writer, I tend to procrastinate at every opportunity. Back in the day it meant watching TV or reading the newspaper. These days, procrastination means surfing the internet. It makes writing a lot more difficult.
We watch your films over and over again but we’re curious: do you ever watch your old films too for enjoyment?
Not really. I certainly don’t make an effort to sit down and watch any of my old films. If they’re on TV and I stumble upon one of my old films, I’ll watch for a bit, just to bring back the memories of making those films. But I have too much new stuff to watch. Too many new films, too many new TV shows… Life is too short to rewatch my old stuff. My philosophy has always been: Don’t look back.
What are your favorite Christmas movies?
“It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Elf” and “Bad Santa.”