There are so many holiday movies to enjoy throughout the Christmas season. From holiday classics to new favorites, a number of beloved actors have played the one and only Santa. Who can forget Tim Allen’s transformation in The Santa Clause? Or Kurt Russell’s recent turn as St. Nick in The Christmas Chronicles?
Playing Santa is one of the most coveted holiday roles for an actor. Many of these iterations of the legendary character are timeless, and actors are willing to undergo major transformations to play Father Christmas. See some of the most notable actors as Santa below.
Tim Allen, 68, became a holiday icon when he took on the role of St. Nick in The Santa Clause, which was released in 1994. After Tim’s character, Scott, accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit, Scott has to take Santa’s place before next Christmas arrives. The movie was a huge hit, grossing nearly $190 million during its run.
Tim returned to the role for two sequels, which were released in 2002 and 2006. The actor’s transformation into the classic Christmas character is showcased throughout the films. Tim’s character grows a long white beard and gets a huge belly that’s ready for all the Christmas cookies of Christmas Eve.
Kurt Russell, 70, took on the role of Santa in the 2018 Netflix film The Christmas Chronicles. The film follows two kids who decide to hide on Santa’s sleigh when they try to get a closer look at him. When they surprise Santa with their presence, he loses control of his sleigh. The sleigh eventually breaks down, and Santa loses his magical hat. The kids have to team up with Santa to deliver gifts in time or the Christmas Spirit will be gone.
For his version of Santa, Kurt rocked a red suit with fur lining. He sported longer white hair and a shorter, curlier white beard in the film. He returned for the 2020 sequel, which featured his longtime partner Goldie Hawn, 76, as Mrs. Claus.
Tom Hanks, 65, voiced Santa Clause in the 2004 Christmas film The Polar Express. Tom actually voiced several characters in the movie, including the Hero Boy who hops on a train bound for the North Pole before Christmas to embark on an unforgettable journey. Tom also voices the Hero Boy’s father, the Conductor, a hobo, and the Scrooge puppet. The Polar Express is truly a Christmas classic!
Legendary late actor Ed Asner played Santa Claus in Will Ferrell’s 2003 holiday hit Elf. Ed’s version of Santa Claus finds Buddy in his sack and gives him to Papa Elf to raise in the North Pole. When Santa crashes his sleigh in Central Park, Elf helps Santa save Christmas.
The late Richard Attenborough starred as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus in the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street. Richard’s character is hired as a Santa replacement at the fictional Cole’s Department Store. Over the course of the holiday film, Kris helps a young 6-year-old girl named Susan (Mara Wilson) believe in the spirit of Christmas. Richard sadly died in 2014.
Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton, 66, played a very edgy version of St. Nick in the 2003 comedy Bad Santa. Billy’s character, Willie, is a conman who poses as Santa to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. In the end, Willie goes to great lengths to help out a troubled kid on Christmas Eve. Billy reprised the role in the 2016 sequel.
Paul Giamatti, 54, played Santa Claus in the 2007 film Fred Claus that focuses on Santa’s troubled brother (Vince Vaughn). Fred’s been in his brother’s shadow his whole life, but Fred has to save Christmas when Nick/Santa is unable to deliver gifts.
Paul has the Santa look down pat. From the iconic red and white suit to a bushy white beard, Paul’s transformation into Father Christmas is pretty amazing.
John Travolta, 67, starred as Santa Claus in a 2020 Capital One commercial. He was featured in the holiday ad with his Pulp Fiction co-star Samuel L. Jackson. John was completely unrecognizable with his long white hair and beard.
John wasn’t dressed up in a typical Santa suit. However, he was still very festive. He wore a red vest and holiday-themed socks. John’s turn as Santa took everyone by surprise!
Similar to Travolta, Steve Carell, 59, played Santa Claus in an Xfinity holiday ad. The Office alum makes a complete transformation into Santa Claus with his huge white beard and Santa outfit. He’s even got rosy cheeks and glasses on. Honestly, if there’s another Santa Claus movie in the works, then Steve’s your guy.