Peter Billingsley Told Why He Agreed to Return to The “Christmas Story”

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2022 was a good year for holiday quelches, especially in the streaming world. Disney+ subscribers are looking forward to the “Santa Clauses” that will unfold over the next few weeks, and this is in addition to all the new releases of films that have already been released over the past couple of weeks.

One of the most promising is HBO’s original “Christmas Story” Max (opens in new tab), in which actor Peter Billingsley returns to the role of Ralph “Ralphie” Parker almost 40 years after the original holiday classic. As it turned out, his return to the series that helped launch his acting career was based on very mature thinking.

Having been a fan of “A Christmas Story” since childhood, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk to Mr. Billingsley on the day of the press release of this sequel. Although there have been many sequels and ill-fated attempts to revive the franchise, “The Christmas Story of Christmas” seems the most appropriate. This is not a coincidence, as Peter Billingsley shared with CinemaBlend the factors that brought him back:

This is something I’ve obviously been thinking about for many years. As you said, almost 40 years have passed, so it was probably time. … I wanted to be in my life, I feel where, so to speak, there was enough meat on the bone to return to the role of Ralphie Parker. So the idea that now he would have his own children, his own family, the desire to give them Christmas, as once in childhood, seemed like the right starting point. Also, the Old Man’s departure as a kind of inflammatory incident that calls Ralphie home… other than the musical, I had nothing to do with the franchise. Didn’t touch it, didn’t even dream of touching it until we were able to do something that we could do right.

The death of the classic patriarch author Jean Shepard is not a spoiler, as the trailer for “The Christmas Story┬áChristmas” puts this plot point right on the table. Giving Ralphie Parker a reason to bring his family to a house that once proudly displayed a foot lamp in the window as a “major reward,” memories of the past begin to surface. Nostalgia is definitely strong in this film, which leads to quite impressive attempts to recreate the atmosphere of the predecessor, directed by Bob Clark.

Although this new chapter of “A Christmas Story” is exclusive to streaming, it looks like the Warner Bros home studio has done its best to bring everyone back to the little old house on Cleveland Street. In his quest to make another Ralphie Parker Christmas, Peter Billingsley had a support team that included, among others, “The Christmas Chronicles” director Clay Katis and production partner Vince Vaughn.

After receiving the award for the story of the new film, you can see above how Billingsley helped shape the story to be told, which was also a huge win. But perhaps the biggest help seems to have come from the studio level, as the actor/co-writer said:

To do this, you will need resources. So, with Warner Bros and Legendary, we were able to build 11 structures on Cleveland Street, including the original house built to scale, the Bumpus House. …We were able to recreate everything. It was important for fans and viewers to feel that they were back in that world. We wanted to have original parts, the original cast was the main component, choosing the right time. All the kids come back in this.

Looking ahead, in 1973, the world has moved forward somewhat after the events of the “Christmas Story”. Ralphie moved to Chicago and is still trying to become a writer who will blow everyone away when this story begins, but fate eventually reunites him with old friends Flick (Scott Schwartz) and Schwartz (R. D. Robb). As Peter Billingsgli said above, both of these characters are reproduced by the actors who created them, and there are a couple more that look too good to spoil them.

The legacy of Christmas films as iconic as the one that underlies the work of Jean Shepard is not easy to find. As with any popular franchise, continuing the story can be a risky move if the right parts are missing. Sometimes even what was not included in the final version can leave a mark in the memory of such classics as “The Christmas Story”. From this point of view, Billingsley’s return to The Christmas Story was absolutely the right decision, since he understands the character of Ralph Parker very well.

This is good news for families who are looking for more caustic, carefree magic under the tree this year. Although it may be too early for some of you to watch “The Christmas Story Christmas” or its predecessor, given that it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. However, if you have an HBO Max subscription and the festive mood has already settled in your heart, both of these films will be available to make the season bright. We won’t tell if you don’t.

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