Old friends and new faces: Casting THE SANTA CLAUSE 3

For this third go-round, the filmmakers put together a stellar ensemble that combined stars from the previous “Santa Clause” films with several first-rate additions.

“It’s a tremendous cast – Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin, Marty Short – just to name three,” says Tim Allen. “This is a great group of actors. It’s amazing to see how well Michael Lembeck put this terrific cast together.”

“It is something special when a director knows how to bring a great cast together and understands the magic that can happen between different people,” adds Ingrid Ferrin.

The new cast members are highlighted by Martin Short, who, from “SCTV” to “Saturday Night Live” to feature films like “Jiminy Glick in Lalawood,” has been making Americans laugh for over 20 years. The character of Jack Frost was too scrumptious for Short to resist. “Jack feels he’s just as qualified as Santa and has all this untapped potential – he just hasn’t been given his moment yet,” says Short.

Despite being labelled as the villain at the North Pole, Jack Frost has charm to spare. “He’s almost loveable in a sleazy, cheesy sort of way,” explains Short. “He’s constantly sucking up to people, but none of it is sincere. I don’t think there’s an honest bone in his body.”

Executive producer William W Wilson III raves, “Marty is funny, hardworking and gives it his all 100 percent of the time. He literally threw himself into the part.”

Rounding out the newcomers are the incomparable Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin as Sylvia and Bud, Santa’s in-laws.

Joining the freshmen were several actors who returned from previous “Santa Clause” sojourns, including Elizabeth Mitchell as Mrs Claus, Judge Reinhold as psychobabbler Dr Neil Miller, and Wendy Crewson as his wife, Laura. Also returning were Spencer Breslin as trusty elf Curtis, Eric Lloyd as Charlie Calvin and Liliana Mumy as Lucy Miller.

“It really does feel like a big family reunion,” says Elizabeth Mitchell. “It was great to see everybody and to hear what’s happening in their lives.”

Mitchell had her own personal news to share – she gave birth to her first child six weeks before shooting began. It wasn’t a big stretch, therefore, for Mitchell to return to the North Pole as an expectant Mrs Claus.

“It felt great to come back after having the baby and to get to wear big clothes,” says Mitchell. “I was really happy.”

Judge Reinhold, who reprises his role as Neil Miller from the original film, thinks the third instalment may be the best yet. “It’s more whimsical, and there’s a lot of new elements,” says the actor. “It’s got more comic energy. There’s something a little wilder about it.”

Reinhold, who has come to accept that by portraying Dr Miller, he is not only recognized for being a permanent part of Christmas but also for “really ugly sweaters,” gets to take his character to New (Age) heights in THE SANTA CLAUSE 3.

“It takes Neil maybe 30 minutes after he arrives at the North Pole to begin conducting an elf yoga class,” says Reinhold. “He takes it upon himself to make sure that elfin stress levels are managed. He’s been reading a bit too much Deepak Chopra.”

Wendy Crewson is back as Scott’s ex-wife, Laura, who makes her first visit to the North Pole along with her husband, Neil, and daughter, Lucy. One element of the script that Crewson particularly admires is the positive message that the blended Calvin/Miller/Claus family sends to audiences.

“This is a perfect tale for today,” she explains. “This modern, divorced family gets along so well, and I love that aspect of the story. I really think this movie is the guide to a good divorce! It’s a good lesson for today’s audience.”

Spencer Breslin reprises his role as Curtis from “The Santa Clause 2.” The bespectacled assistant has now landed the plum assignment of Santa’s Head Elf.

“Curtis got a promotion for his 900th birthday, I think. Now he’s the number-one elf, and he likes the power,” says Breslin of his character. “But although he may get a little crazy sometimes, he would never try to steal Christmas from the big guy, like Jack Frost.”

“Spencer is a 55-year-old man in a 13-year-old’s body,” laughs producer Brian Reilly. “He has such authority, and he is so good at what he does.”

Liliana Mumy, whose real-life dad is Bill Mumy, aka Will Robinson from the famous 1960s television series “Lost in Space,” is glad that her returning character, Lucy, gets an opportunity to visit the North Pole this time around.

“In the last movie, I didn’t get to go to the North Pole. I am so glad I got to go this time, because it looks so cool,” she says. “It’s so big, and when you walk around, you keep noticing new things.”

About her co-star Eric Lloyd, who originated the role of Scott Calvin’s son and Lucy’s older brother, Charlie, at the age of eight in “The Santa Clause,” Liliana says, “He’s changed so much from the last movie. He’s in college now. He teases me a little bit, but that’s okay with me.”

Executive producer William W Wilson III admires the contributions of the younger cast members. “Spencer and Liliana – and also Abigail Breslin, Spencer’s little sister in real life, who also has a role in the film – are such professionals. They give such honest performances in our fantasy world.”

Adds Reilly, “Liliana Mumy is so wide-eyed, I think there is a part of her that thinks she is actually in the North Pole. She is a genuine child. She loves what she’s doing.”

Also reuniting for THE SANTA CLAUSE 3 is the Council of Legendary Figures, comprised of Mother Nature (Aisha Tyler), Father Time (Peter Boyle), Easter Bunny (Jay Thomas), Cupid (Kevin Pollak), Tooth Fairy (Art La Fleur) and Sandman (Michael Dorn).