The Sun Herald

October 31, 2002

Allen on the importance of being Santa

For 17 centuries, children have been told they’d better watch out, they’d better not pout or there will be no gifts on Christmas morning. And, except for sightings on weather forecasters’ radars, the elusive old elf hasn’t had to answer to the media.

Enough with the mystery man routine. Time to get the skinny on the fat man. Tim Allen may not actually be Santa Claus, but he’s done two tours of duty in the jolly man’s shoes, in the 1994 feature film “The Santa Clause” and in the sequel, “The Santa Clause 2,” which opens Friday.

Allen and his co-star Elizabeth Mitchell, who plays the soon-to-be Mrs. Claus, were in Dallas last week to talk about their new movie, but first we wanted the scoop on Santa.
So what don’t we know about Santa?
“That he has some time off – he doesn’t work all year,” Allen says.
And he sleeps with his whiskers outside the covers.
“I have a very large belly and if I pulled the covers up over it, I wouldn’t be able to breathe,” he deadpans. “I actually put a little bow around it, it’s a little neat thing ( personal assistant elf) Judy fixed. It’s like a little sleeping sack that goes on the bottom of the beard. It’s made of silk. It’s very old, about a thousand years old.”

The North Pole isn’t perfect, either. They’ve got problems up there bigger than keeping up with the naughty and nice list.
“Global warming,” Allen says. “It’s affecting us more than anyone else. It could destroy the whole system.”

And what about that naughty and nice thing? How’s a kid supposed to know where he stands?
“Every elf will tell you the same thing,” Allen says with a twinkle in his eye, “Oh, they know. The minute a kid does something wrong, they know.”

In “The Santa Clause 2,” Allen reprises his role as a toy marketing guy who becomes Santa after the big fellow falls off his roof on Christmas Eve.
Whether it’s a carryover of Allen’s personality or not, he has managed to play several characters who have really cool stuff. As the star of the popular Emmy Award-winning sitcom “Home Improvement,” his character Tim Taylor got to play with power tools every week. As the voice of Buzz Lightyear, the animated spaceman action hero in “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2,” Allen soared with pretend telecommunicators and a flip-top space shield.

So who has the best toys of all: Santa Claus, Tim Taylor, Buzz Lightyear or Tim Allen?
“Tim Allen, definitely,” Allen says firmly. “For one thing, I have toys that are made by man. I have a fully functional Robbie the Robot from ‘Forbidden Planet.’ ” He has the entire movie dialogue in a computer chip.
“I have a ’32 nickel-plated hot rod and two handmade cars made by seven people. I helped design it. It’s the only one in the world. Santa doesn’t do this kind of stuff.”

In the new film, Santa gets stuck driving his ex-wife’s minivan. So what should Santa drive?
“He would drive my minivan. I have a slammed and flared, supercharged Ford Aerostar… . It has big flare fenders on it, 18-inch tires and spoke wheels and Rambo disc brakes, supercharged V-6.”

Allen also seems to like good-looking co-stars.
Mitchell, slim, blond, beautiful and 5 foot 8-1/2 in her stocking feet, doesn’t look or sound like the quintessential apple-cheeked ho-ho-ho homemaker.
“Stick around for the credits,” advises Mitchell, an outgoing Dallas girl. “Santa explains to her that there’s going to be a huge metamorphosis. I add on about 80 pounds. There’s a little bit of cheeks, a little bit of something here and there, capes and her hair in a bun,” she says, laughing.

So how does Santa kiss?
Mitchell grins. “It was really fun to kiss Santa, so soft. Not tickly, just soft,” she smiles again at the memory and makes a circle with her thumb and forefinger.
Mitchell’s character, Carol Newman, is the high school principal who keeps busting Charlie, Santa’s son. Mitchell says she modeled her no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners character after some of her own teachers.
“I only did well in school because I had tough teachers,” Mitchell explains. “She’s not evil. She just wants them to behave.”
Santa uses a little magic to soften her up, and the big guy ends up with the babe.
“It’s a movie about Santa for adults, and it’s OK if you kids want to watch,” Allen explains. “It’s really a love story and an action-adventure film.”

Michael Lembeck, the Emmy-winning director of “The Santa Clause 2,” sees his film as a little story with a bigger theme.
“Santa is a microcosm of the bigger picture,” Lembeck explains. “It’s the gift of faith, believing in something.”

The Sun Herald

Santa Clause 2