David Harbour Wasn’t Sure About Playing Violent Night’s Killer Santa

David Harbour was unsure at first about playing a killer, action-hero version of Santa Claus in Violent Night. The film stars Harbour as the Christmas icon as he battles a band of mercenaries that have taken a family hostage on Christmas Eve. Trailers for the movie are already teasing a massive amount of holiday-themed action sequences, including Santa killing armed mercenaries with candy canes and a Christmas tree star. The film is being produced by 87North Productions whose first film in 2021, Nobody, set the groundwork for the violent, action-packed movies they’ve specialized in since.

In an interview with Variety, Harbour admitted that he wasn’t sure at first about the idea of playing Violent Night’s action-hero Santa, but that over time he warmed up to the idea. He also hints at the possibility of Santa’s backstory deviating from what most people know about him in the movie as a way to establish why he behaves so aggressively in the movie. Check out what Harbour had to say below:

My initial thoughts were like, ‘What the hell is this? I don’t know what you guys are talking about.’ It was pitched to me as an action-comedy Christmas movie with Santa Claus at the center — who had a very different past and 10,000 years ago was a very different man — and that he has acquired a certain set of skills that he must use to fight bad guys in the future. I thought, ‘Wow, this is… I don’t know about this.’

There was something so special about the attempt that I thought, ‘Wow, if we can hit the right sweet spot with this, it’d be quite a leap — it’d be quite an achievement.’

Why David Harbour Works As Violent Night’s Santa Claus

While Harbour may have had his doubts surrounding his role as Santa in Violent Night, trailers for the film underscore just how perfect he is for the role of a less-than-jolly Saint Nick. The effort in Harbour’s performance harkens back to his previous role as Red Guardian in Black Widow, where he also had to flex his talents for an action-packed thrill ride. Harbour’s prior experience in an action role meant that he could lend himself well to a version of Santa that isn’t so nice to the people on his naughty list. It also meant he could explore his Santa’s character through the violent nature of the movie.

In addition to Santa’s action hero status in Violent Night, the film will also feature Harbour’s Santa communicating regularly with Trudy, a little girl that he was supposed to be delivering presents to whom he now seeks to rescue from the mercenaries. Harbour’s prior experience as Jim Hopper in Stranger Things lends itself well to this part of the plot. In Stranger Things, Hopper ends up forming a fatherly bond with Eleven, a young girl who had been experimented on in Hawkins Laboratory but escaped. The experience Harbour has playing a father character in Stranger Things makes him all the more perfect to give Violent Night’s Santa a more sympathetic side despite his intent to kill the film’s main antagonists.

Harbour’s experience is also coupled with the generally fun atmosphere Violent Night’s trailers display. The film’s promotional materials indicate that Harbour is having a blast playing a version of Santa Claus that hunts down mercenaries for the sake of protecting a family. Because of the level of confidence with which he portrays a violent version of Santa, Harbour proves himself as being a great fit for the role from the trailers alone. With both Harbour and director Tommy Wirkola expressing excitement for Violent Night and Harbour’s role as Santa, the film is sure to be a fun time for viewers waiting for an action-packed holiday experience.

Source: Variety