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9 Famous Actors That Have Played Santa

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Richard Attenborough Miracle on 34th Street image
20th Century Fox

Lots of people have played Santa Claus on the big and small screens over the years. Here are nine famous actors that have donned the big red suit.

9. Tim Allen

Tim Allen is probably the most well-known actor to play Santa. Mostly because he played the role in all three of the Santa Clause films. He did a pretty good job, too. Granted, he needed a bit of padding, but he gave St Nick a homely charm. Especially as he plays a salesman who accidentally knocks the real Santa off a roof. Which leaves him to take his place. These are feel-good Christmas movies.

8. Ed Asner

Legendary actor Ed Asner played Santa in one of the most iconic Christmas movies of all time. 2003’s Elf with Will Ferrell. He had the warm grandfather look required for Santa, and the acting chops to go with it. He also played Santa in a previous film from 1986 called The Christmas Star. A true legend of festive films.

7. Jim Broadbent

Jim Broadbent has had an eclectic career with a variety of different roles. He was in the Harry Potter films, Bridget Jones Diary and Game of Thrones amongst many others. A fine actor in his own right, but did you know he played Santa? He did in the 2014 British comedy Get Santa. Jim does a fantastic job of playing a bombastic Santa Claus. It’s a perfect feel-good movie that’s the ideal complement to Christmas Eve by the fire.

6. Billy Bob Thornton

Okay, this one is a bit of a cop-out as Billy Bob only plays someone dressed in a Santa costume. But before you shout that’s what all actors on the list do, let me point something out. He’s not actually playing Santa, but donning Santa’s costume so he can steal from the shopping malls he’s working at. It’s a dark comedy, obviously, but still a fun movie. Billy plays a thief pretending to be Santa and he’s got the part down to a tee. Naughty, cheeky, but still a good Christmas movie.

5. Kurt Russell

When you think of Kurt Russell you think about a bit of a rough-edged hero. A guy that you wouldn’t want to mess with. It was a bit of a surprise when Netflix released The Christmas Chronicles with him in the lead role. He does a good job, though. The film is written by the master of family movies, Chris Columbus, so you get the gist. It’s a very well-done movie and leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Kurt Russell also suits a white beard and long hair very well. So well, in fact, they made a sequel in 2020.

4. Leslie Nielson

I must admit, this one was a surprise for me. Leslie Nielson was one of the greatest comedy actors from the past few decades. His deadpan delivery made Police Squad and Airplane! cult classics. He did don the Santa suit for two television movies. 1991’s All I Want for Christmas, and Santa Who? in 2000. The first of the two films were universally panned by critics. It is a cheesy snooze fest with terrible acting. Apart from Nielson, of course. The latter film is slightly better, but at the end of the day, they were both TV movies. Nielson pulls Santa off well, but you’re just waiting for a deadpan one-liner.

3. Tom Hanks

Yep, even one of the world’s most famous actors has played Santa Claus. Ok, so not quite in person but he lent his voice to the character. 2004’s The Polar Express to be specific. The animated movie was a box office success and gained awards for its visuals. Hanks himself voiced a variety of roles in the film as well as narrated. Talented guy.

2. John Goodman

We’re keeping with the animated film theme with the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer movie from 1998. The film looks quite dated looking back now. The animation looks like it came from the 1950s, not the ’90s. That said, it’s a kid-friendly romp about everyone’s favourite reindeer. John Goodman lends his powerful voice to the role of Santa, and it shines through. Right through the fading animation. Also, John Goodman played Santa in the flesh in 2006’s The Year Without a Santa Claus. So, an extra bonus point to Mr Goodman for his Santa portrayals.

1. Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough was one the finest British actors ever to grace a stage. Miracle on 34th Street was one of the finest Christmas movies ever made when it was released in 1947. When they remade it in 1994 there was only one actor to take on the iconic role of Santa. Step forward, Richard Attenborough. The original actor Edmund Gwenn did an incredible job at the time. But Attenborough managed to bring the character into modern times without losing any of the magic.


That’s our list of nine famous actors that have played Santa. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out the Christmas collections we recommend on Disney Plus HERE.

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9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies

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Wayne's World image
Paramount Pictures

There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.

1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)

Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.

2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.

3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)

You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.

4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.

5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)

Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.

6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)

I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.

7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)

This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.

8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)

We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.

9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)

Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.


That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.

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