The Fred Claus funnyman spills the beans on what he really thinks about Santa

By People Staff
Updated October 29, 2007 08:35 AM

Vince Vaughn hopes to put the “ho ho ho” back into the holidays with his new movie Fred Claus – in which he plays the older, overlooked brother of the big man in the red suit (Paul Giamatti as Santa). It opens Nov. 9. At a press conference for the comedy, a very unScrooge-like Vaughn, 37, talked of Christmases past, present and future.

What was it like going down the chimney for the movie?
Here is the good news. Sometimes I would come down the chimney, and that was fine, because I would just kind of come down the chimney. [But] when you see people falling and doing weird stuff? That is a stunt guy named Joe Bucaro, out of Chicago. I’m an actor, and it’s not fashionable to mention stunt guys. A lot of actors are like, ‘Yeah, I do my stunts.’ I don’t do any of my stuff. I don’t like to do my stunts. I like to have a stunt guy do my stuff. So, Joe will go and fall on his head and then we’ll do some kind of high five thing or something, and then I will lie on the ground and get up.

What is your secret Christmas wish?
I guess, understanding. As a kid, Christmas is fun because you want toys. Then when you get socks or shirts you kind of don’t want those. As you get older that is all you get. It’s nice to have kids around, because you kind of get to enjoy Christmas. I have a nephew and some nieces and them opening presents and being excited in that way is fun.

Do you remember when your belief in Santa was first shaken? (SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you still believe in Santa Claus.)
I remember the day I had neighbors that let me know – I was 6 years old – that there was no Santa Claus. They go, ‘You know there’s not a Santa Claus, right?’ – and, of course, covering in front of them I was like, ‘Well, yeah. Of course there’s not a Santa Claus, guys.’ Then I went to my sisters, and they said, ‘Okay, now you know the painful truth, there is not a Santa Claus.’ I was the youngest. They said, ‘Don’t tell mom and dad, because then we may not get gifts anymore. You got to keep pretending that you think there is Santa Claus, or you are not going to get any gifts.’ I was like 16 going, ‘Dad, when is Santa coming down the chimney?’ My dad was like, ‘Look it’s getting weird, you are getting older, you know there’s not a Santa, right?’ ”

What would it take to restore your belief in Santa?
Funny how that works. We just did this fun short [film] for the World Series with these kids. We did Claus kind of coaching. We did the whole thing and it was over, one of the kids was 9 or 10, came running up to me afterwards. He goes, ‘Hey, Fred.’ I felt like Joe Green in that Coca-Cola commercial. He’s like, ‘Hey, Fred.’ I turned and looked at him, I said, ‘Yeah.’ He says, ‘Tell your brother to get me something this year.’ I looked at him and I said, ‘Oh, I got you. I got you.’ So, now I’m just hoping that this guy is getting something good. Otherwise he’s going to hunt me down.”

Naughty or nice … which were you?
I would have been naughty, but in a very nice way.