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Ho, ho, ho! Santa Claus is basically Christmas embodied, so it’s no surprise that he’s popped up at so many points in pop culture. It takes a particular talent to play Santa Claus, but a select few actors (and even some actresses!) have take on the role.
One of the big screen’s most memorable Santas is Tim Allen in The Santa Clause films and TV series. In the movies, he plays a man who has to take on the mantle of Saint Nick after witnessing the demise of another Santa. After decades away from the role, Tim put the red suit back on for 2022’s The Santa Clauses on Disney+.
Ready to learn about more actors who played Santa Claus on TV or in movies? Check out our gallery right here.
2019’s Noelle gave Santa a gender twist with Anna Kendrick as Kris Kringle’s daughter. In the film, she has to take over the family business when her father retires and her brother gets cold feet.
Charles Durning teamed up with Elmo for 1996’s Elmo Saves Christmas. The movie was about what happens when Elmo wishes it was Christmas every day.
Charles was a pro at playing Santa. He also put on the beard for It Nearly Wasn’t Christmas (1989,) Mrs. Santa Claus (1996,) Mr. St. Nick (2002,) and A Boyfriend for Christmas (2004.) He passed away in 2012.
Leslie Nielson was quite the wacky Santa in 1991’s All I Want For Christmas, with Ethan Embry and Thora Birch. He played the Santa that puts the story into action after Thora wishes for her divorced parents to get back together. The kooky comic would return to the role of St. Nick in 200’s Santa Who?
Elf (2003) is a bonafide Christmas classic. Everyone loves Will Ferrell as Buddy The Elf and Ed Asner is just an awesome Santa. The comedy is about Buddy’s journey from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father, Walter Hobbs.
John Goodman was super jolly in the 2006 live action adaptation of The Year Without A Santa Claus. The movie followed what happens when a taken-for-granted Santa decides to skip town.
Jim Broadbent was the target of 2014’s Get Santa, a Christmas action comedy. After Santa is put behind bars, a recently paroled prisoner and his young son attempt to save Christmas.
Whoopi Goldberg got to act opposite Nigel Hawthorne as Santa in 2001’s Call Me Claus. The TV movie was about what happens after a TV producer hires the real Santa for her home shopping show.
Bad to the bone. Billy Bob Thornton was wickedly funny in 2003’s Bad Santa. The flick was about a con-man who poses as Saint Nick while casing a department store.
Miracle On 34th Street is a classic, remade many times. The original 1947 flick starred Edmund Gwenn as a department store Santa who just might be the real deal.
Double trouble! Charles Durning played Santa Claus with Angela Lansbury as his wife in the 1996 movie Mrs. Santa Claus. The film follows Mrs. Claus after she ends up stranded in the multicultural neighborhood of Manhattan’s Lower East Side of the early 1900s.
Charles Durning really was a pro Santa. He appeared with Kelli Williams (left) and Patrick Muldoon in 2004’s Boyfriend For Christmas, a Hallmark film about the drama that happens when Santa brings two lonely people together.
Richard Attenborough played Santa in the 1994 version of Miracle On 34th Street. The Jurassic Park actor gave the movie a modern, but still classic feeling.
Paul Giamatti (here with Kevin Spacey) took on the role of Santa in 2007’s Fred Claus. The movie, starring Vince Vaughn, was about Santa’s bitter older brother.
Kurt Russell was quite the handsome Santa in Netflix’s 2018 The Christmas Chronicles and its 2020 follow-up. The movie was about sister and brother Kate and Teddy Pierce and what happens after their Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera takes a wild turn.