Tim Allen, in a role that is increasingly age-appropriate now that he is 69, is Santa Claus again. The difference this time is that his daughter, Elizabeth Allen-Dick, is playing Santa’s daughter, Sandra.
Speaking on Sunday with Entertainment Weekly about the upcoming Disney+ series “The Santa Clauses,” Allen wondered aloud, “My daughter is playing my daughter.”
There are clear benefits to the arrangement, of course, natural chemistry being chief among them. But could she act? Allen, best known for his roles in “Home Improvement”, “Last Man Standing”, and the “Toy Story” franchise, didn’t know how it would go. He was surprised by the casting directors’ interest in her to begin with.
As an executive producer for the project, Allen could have pushed his daughter for the role, but he didn’t. He only had her in mind for a bit part as an elf. It was the casting directors that noticed something in Elizabeth and wanted to see more.
“It’s difficult to believe, but it had very little to do with me,” he said. “I wanted to put my youngest daughter as an elf, just so she’d see herself in a movie. But as she was reading for that, she read so well that they said, ‘We’d like to read her for more of a part.’ I said, ‘Whatever you want to do. I want nothing to do with it.'”
Casting agents must be wary of casting actors’ kids, especially adolescents. The offspring of actors rarely reflect the acting ability of their parents. By appearances, though, this 13-year-old daughter of Tim Allen seems to be a chip off the old block.
Allen kept asking himself, “Has she ever done this before?”‘ And he kept answering himself, “No.”
“But she’s read scripts with me all the time,” he reasoned. “We got to play all the time as a comedian. I’m that way around the house. She’s able to take a line, make it her own, add value to it and be honest about it.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 12, 2022
Allen remembers thinking, “I don’t want to pitch my daughter for a part in the movie.” But he watched the casting process unfold, noticing that she kept advancing, all the way to the late stages. “They loved how she read, loved it so much, because she’s playing a 13-year-old girl and she is 13. They ended up casting her as Santa’s daughter. It was a surprise but it became the most amazing experience.”
When the time came for filming, the veteran actor, having played Scott Calvin/Santa Claus three times from 1994-2006, must have thought about the long process of getting into that Santa suit again. He must have had to muster the role back to his consciousness again, after a 16-year hiatus. But he said it was fun from the beginning.
“As I walked on set for the first time in the full regalia, everybody got very quiet, both adults and kids,” Allen told EW. “When I show up dressed in the full suit and everything else, there’s big smiles on people’s faces. Little kids are quiet. I had totally forgotten that. It does feel like Santa’s in the room.”
The movie centers on Scott Calvin’s decision to move on from his career as Santa Claus. The suspension of disbelief might experience a little challenge, as he decides to move the family to Chicago in search of a new Santa.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but [Sandra] doesn’t want to go. So I tell her, ‘Being afraid is okay as long as we can be afraid together.’ Even saying the line, I get a little choked up. I looked right at her.”
“One of my photographer buddies was shooting and said it was tear-jerking to watch. I said, ‘Well, I’m looking at my kid.’ And she literally showed what I learned from Pat Richardson on Home Improvement: Real actors can really emote real emotions. She did it to me there, and I reacted to it, and it was an amazing moment. I’ll never forget it.”
Reportedly, much of the original cast is back, notably with Elizabeth Mitchell returning as Carol Calvin (Mrs. Claus) and David Krumholtz as Bernard. Look for some cameos, too, including Peyton Manning’s appearance as someone auditioning to be Santa.
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The first two episodes of the limited series will premiere on November 16 on Disney+.
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