violent night is an explosive movie, the rare Christmas movie that is able to balance a genuine sense of festivity with a subversive element, incorporating john wickaction-comedy style in an ultimate story about Santa helping a girl’s family through a very hard time. Opposing Santa stands a gang of dangerous criminals led by Ben, aka Mr. Scrooge, a ruthless killer who faces a much tougher Christmas than he bargained for, especially once he realizes that Santa Claus (David Harbour) isn’t just some guy in a red suit.
Prior to violent nights Making its theatrical debut December 2, CBR sat down with John Leguizamo (Ben/Mr. Scrooge) to discuss what drew him to a gory take on a traditional Christmas movie. He explained how he makes sure that his villainous role deserves the right amount of respect and how he was trained with some of the best stunt teams in the world for the film.
CBR: So this is kind of a…unique Christmas movie. What was her reaction the first time she heard the tone of violent night?
Juan Leguizamo: When they told me it’s a subversive Christmas movie, I signed up because I’m all about subversion. So I mean, Santa comes in [and] fight and beat the villains? I was like, what? An action movie with Santa! And it was funny and moving. I was like, “How did you change me?” I don’t understand how they caught me, but they transferred me. [The film] I was moved at the end. I cried!
I mean, your character has a lot of reasons to cry at the end of the movie.
[laughs] Oh yeah. Yes, there is a different kind of crying. That is a cry of pain.
One of the things I love about your performance in the film is how you really play off so many Christmas movie villain archetypes. What was it like to dive into that kind of role?
You know, there’s a lot of pressure in being the villain in a movie and making sure it’s really smart because [your movie] is always as smart as your villain. So how do I make sure that he was really smart, where you really respected him… he had to earn my respect, and I had to gain it’s. It doesn’t just happen. So I had to make sure that I kept up the rage, that my fights were close, that you believed that I was a murderer.
So, I trained a lot with some great stunt coordinators – Jonathan Eusebio is one of the best in the world right now – and we would train every day, four or five hours, for a month to get those sequences. My God, it hurt. Hurts! I’m not going to lie, the next day, I couldn’t get out of bed. I rolled and then had to roll on the ground until I could get my movement back.
Violent Night opens in theaters on December 2.