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David Harbour Explains Why He Likes Gruff Archetypes


violent night is a lot of things at once, juggling the tenors and tones of a long history of Christmas movies like Home alone Y miracle on 34th street while displaying some brutal action that would not be out of place in a john wick movie. The film stars David Harbour, who plays a weary Santa Claus who finds a reason to keep fighting, giving it a balance of comedy, action and drama that fleshes out this version of the Christmas icon.


During an interview with CBR before the theatrical release on December 2, violent nightDavid Harbor (Santa) spoke about his initial reactions to being cast “die hard but with Santa” as a movie. He dove into what draws him to the gruff archetype he’s honed on shows like Strange things and movies like Marvel Cinematic Universe black widow and how he thinks Santa would fare in a cage fight with his other more famous roles.

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CBR: So, I have to ask: the first time you heard the speech of violent nightwhat was your answer?

david port: I mean, the initial response was, “What are you talking about? This sounds ridiculous.” I think they were saying, “He’s Santa Claus, but he fights a lot of bad guys and kills a lot of people.” I was like, “Okay, this sounds terrible.” Then they said, “Look, the director [Tommy Wirkola] and David Leitch, the producer, they want to talk to you via Zoom before they send you a script.” I was like, “Okay.”

Then I met Tommy… and he’s kind of a childish Norwegian who’s done a lot of great movies and he loves Christmas. I guess in Norway they have reindeer all over the place, and he has all this real affinity for that kind of Nordic and Christmas thing. He was just elated with this enthusiasm. David is a very skilled action guy and he was talking about all the lengths we would go to to do this.

When they sent me the script, I thought it was something unique. I was like, “I’ve never seen this before.” So often with movies, rarely do I get sent something where I’m like, “Oh, not only is this not an action movie, but at its core, it’s really a Christmas movie.” it’s really like miracle on 34th street at the end, where this girl believes in Santa Claus while he’s dripping blood all over her face. When I feel that kind of complex mixed stuff, when something feels unique to me, I get excited because I feel like it’s something I want people to see.

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So let’s throw Santa in a cage with Hellboy, Strange things Hopper and the Red Guardian of the MCU. How do you think Santa holds up in that takedown?

[Laughs] Wow. I mean, I don’t know, I think she’s going to defend herself. You know, I think eventually Hellboy will win that grudge match, but you know, Hopper and Red Guardian will probably go down before Santa does. I think Santa stays there longer… he’s 10,000 years old delivering presents and doing all kinds of things we have no idea about. So yeah, I’m putting some good money into Santa Claus.

Between Santa Claus and those other roles, you can really play the archetype of the gruff and reluctant protector. As a performer, what is it about that type of character that excites you?

It’s a very good question, actually. I really like it when people do the right thing, but they don’t know why they’re doing it, or don’t even like it, and there’s something about that. I think there’s something to that gruff masculinity, where there’s this outer layer of not wanting to do the right thing or wanting to be difficult or wanting to be this or that, but there’s a heart that breaks through.

I don’t know why, I find it so much more beautiful than people who just know they are doing the right thing and do the right thing. There is something heroic that we find in those people who are like the direct heroes, right? The boys who know that this is the right thing to do, [and] I’m going to do it. Then there’s the guy who doesn’t really know the right path or doesn’t want to take the right path, but takes the right path in spite of himself. I find those people, they are just my people. So yeah, that’s just my thing.

Violent Night hits theaters on December 2.



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