Hollywood Holiday: 10 Actors Who Have Played Santa Claus

7:30 AM 12/22/2016

by THR Staff

From Tim Allen to Billy Bob Thornton, a look at who has portrayed (or voiced) Saint Nick onscreen.

'Bad Santa'
'Bad Santa'
Dimension Films/Photofest

  • Tim Allen in 'The Santa Clause'

    1994

    Photofest

    In the 1994 family comedy, Allen plays a divorcee who accidentally kills a Santa impersonator on Christmas Eve — and is transported to the North Pole to take over Santa's duties. At first skeptical that the whole stint is just a wild dream, he begins to believe it after he suddenly gains weight and grows a thick, white beard.  

    The film went on to spawn two sequels — 2002's The Santa Clause 2 and 2006's The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.

  • Ed Asner in 'Elf'

    2003

    Photofest

    The Will Ferrell starrer centers on oprhaned baby (Buddy) who sneaks into Santa Claus' sack and spends his childhood (and adulthood) in the North Pole believing he is an elf. Asner plays Santa, who sends Buddy to New York City on a quest to find his birth father after he learns that he is a human who was adopted as an infant.

  • Paul Giamatti in 'Fred Claus'

    2007

    Photofest

    Giamatti plays Saint Nick in this fantasy comedy that focuses on Santa's relationship with his resentful older brother, Fred Claus (played by Vince Vaughn). When Fred ends up in a bind and tries scheming his brother into loaning him $50,000, Nick demands he travel to the North Pole and earn his money by helping work during the Christmas rush.

  • Billy Bob Thornton in 'Bad Santa'

    2003

    Photofest

    The 2003 comedy (and its 2016 sequel Bad Santa 2) sees Thornton in the role of a conman who, along with his dwarf sidekick, dress as Santa Claus and his elf helper at a department store each holiday season just to rob the mall once Christmas Eve hits, and all shoppers have gone home. 

  • Jim Carrey in 'Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas'

    2000

    Photofest

    The film adaptation of Dr. Seuss' book of the same title stars Carrey as the Grinch, a resident of Whoville who hates Christmas and plots to ruin the holiday for the entire town. Though the Grinch isn't exactly Santa himself, he dons Santa's suit in an attempt to disguise himself and steal presents from children while they're sleeping.

  • Richard Attenborough in 'Miracle on 34th Street'

    1994

    Photofest

    One of many remakes of the holiday classic (originally released in 1947), 1994's Miracle on 34th Street centers on a man named Kris Kringle (Attenborough), whose insistence that he's the real Santa Claus helps a young 6-year-old girl believe in the spirit of Christmas.

  • Tom Hanks in 'The Polar Express'

    2004

    Photofest

    Hanks voices Santa (and a multitude of other characters) in the animation about a skeptical young boy who embarks on a journey of self-discovery as he boards a magical train en route to the North Pole.

  • Mickey Rooney in 'Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town'

    1970

    Photofest

    In the stop-motion animated TV special, a mailman (voiced by Fred Astaire) answers children's letters to Santa Claus (voiced by Mickey Rooney) by telling the origin story of Kris Kringle and how he came to be the legend of Sombertown.

  • Ben Affleck in 'Reindeer Games'

    2000

    Photofest

    Though Affleck doesn't necessarily play Santa Claus himself, he dresses up as Saint Nick when his character, an ex-convict recently released from jail, becomes entangled in a plot to rob a casino on Christmas Eve.

  • John Goodman in 'The Year Without a Santa Claus'

    2006

    Photofest

    A live-action remake of 1974's stop-motion special, NBC's 2006 TV movie follows a discouraged Santa (played by Goodman) who becomes intent on skipping toy deliveries on Christmas until a young boy helps him rediscover the holiday spirit.

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