Many actors have played Santa Claus, usually a traditional version of the jolly fat man. In Fred Claus, Santa's size is explained by an eating disorder, and the increasing demands for Christmas gifts only cause him more stress. Paul Giamatti played that up in creating his version of St. Nick.
Paul Giamatti on Fred Claus
"Part of the nice thing about it is that it’s such an archetype," said Giamatti. "You know a lot of the stuff you're supposed to do. I had to work up a good Ho-Ho-Ho. So I worked on that. I put in as much effort as I could to get the right things down that everyone expects. It’s a character on the page and he’s supposed to be sort of a regular guy who is over worked and over stressed, runs a huge business that drives him crazy. I took a character like that and then I overlaid all the typical Santa Claus stuff, tried to lay that stuff on top of it."
Instead of going method and putting on the pounds, Giamatti wore a fat suit. "I don’t know how much the fat suit weighed. Trying to hold a fork or anything was impossible. I don’t know how much it weighed. 70 pounds or something like that? It was a lot. It was really hot, I sweated a lot. They got me out of it every 40 minutes or something like that. I had to open up and cool me down. It was a whole lot of stuff, but yeah, it was but it was fun. It could have been a lot worse."
Even though he was able to make Santa another quirky character in his quirky resume, Giamatti was not particular about his role. "I have to say, I get a script like this and I’m not thinking ‘Oh, I’m doing a big holiday movie.’ I just got a good script. I got something that was interesting to me. It’s a nice part, a fine director, and then when I hear all the other people doing it I know it’s going to be a good time. Working with him, I know how great he is. This guy is a great director. I never think of it in terms of, ‘Oh, I’m going to do a holiday picture.’ It just was a good script."
Holiday believers may be disappointed to know that the actor playing Santa does not actually believe in him himself. "I was never buying it, I never bought it. It never made sense to me, it didn’t add up, never bought it. The Easter Bunny, for some reason, I bought."
Fred Claus opens to theaters tomorrow, November 9th.