Tim Allen, star of 1994 live-action Disney hit The Santa Clause, says the film’s original opening — in which toymaker executive Scott Calvin (Allen) shoots and kills a trespassing Santa Claus — was deemed too inappropriate for the opening of a Disney movie, which Allen argued was in keeping with Disney’s famed trope of killing parental figures.
“The original Santa Clause was a little darker — written by two comedians — and I actually shot and killed Santa in the original movie, and he fell off the roof, because I thought it was a burglar,” Allen told The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon.
“And he gives me the card, and the whole movie starts. The kid starts [crying], ‘You just killed Santa!’ I said, ‘He shouldn’t have been on the roof when he wasn’t invited.’”
The opening was softened at the behest of then Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, resulting in a lighter opening centering around a toy company holiday party.
“I’m laughing so hard, but the head of Disney at the time, Katzenberg, said, ‘Well, we can’t start a movie like that.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He goes, ‘Well, you can’t start a Disney movie with you murdering Santa,’” Allen said.
“I go, ‘I’m a comedian, why not? That’s funny.’ And I go, ‘You kill all the parents in all your other movies anyway!’”
Despite being best remembered for his role as at first delusional space ranger toy Buzz Lightyear in Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story franchise and affable but clumsy dad Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor in Disney-owned sitcom Home Improvement, the comic admitted he had troubles adjusting when portraying jolly old Saint Nick in the family-friendly comedy.
Allen recounted an instance where he was chastised by director John Pasquin — now a director on Allen’s Last Man Standing — for his liberal use of the “F word” while sporting Santa’s suit, which boiled over when a smoking Allen exclaimed, “You gotta keep those frickin’ kids away from me!”
“He goes, ‘Number one, shut the door. You gotta stop saying that word when you’re in that Santa suit. You’re smoking a cigarette, and these kids, they think you’re Santa,’” Allen said.
“’I go, ‘They’re actors!’ He goes, ‘They’re not actors, they’re children!’ And I go, ‘So I gotta act like I’m actually Santa Claus? These little creeps think this is actually Santa Claus?’”
Allen, as Santa, was then bombarded with questions from the film’s younger stars — most of whom portrayed the North Pole’s pint-sized workforce — who asked such pressing questions as, “‘What does Santa eat? What do the elves eat?’”
“I go, ‘How the hell would I know what they eat?’ But all that comes out of my mouth, I said, ‘Reindeer, I guess.’ Look, it’s the best I could come up with,” Allen recalled.
“’Why do you like milk and cookies?’ ‘Because it takes the edge off the Jack and Coke. That’s what it does.’ Wrong guy, wrong guy to be Santa. But I loved the movie, though.”
Allen next lends his voice to Toy Story 4, which he revealed will include a role for John Wick star Keanu Reeves, in theaters June 21, 2019.