Luke Macfarlane Talks Playing Santa in Catch Me If You Claus, Leaning into High-Concept Hallmark Fare

Luke Macfarlane Talks Playing Santa in Catch Me If You Claus, Leaning into High-Concept Hallmark Fare
By: TV Fanatic Posted On: November 22, 2023 View: 50

There's no doubt that when it comes to the leading men in Hallmark movies, Luke Macfarlane is not only one of the hunkiest, but he's also one of the funniest.

Those of you who appreciate his comedic talents are in for a special surprise as he pairs with Italia Ricci for Catch Me If You Claus for a funny holiday romp in which he gets to play Chris, the son of and heir to the Santa Claus legacy.

Settle in for an enjoyable and insightful conversation with one of the best talents Hallmark is privileged to have on its roster.

Luke Macfarlane for Catch Me If You Claus

This is funny. I last interviewed you for Platonic, and it ran the day before the strike, so this is like kismet.

Oh my gosh, you're the bookends. [laughs] You're the bookends of my PR tours. I love it. Wonderful.

Talking with you is such a pleasure. And I've got to say that you hit another comedic performance out of the park with Catch Me If You Claus.

Oh, I appreciate that. I was really grateful that I got the opportunity to be funny. I love playing the leading man, but often, they don't get to make that many jokes, so I was really grateful to get to be funny in this one.

Chris Has a Job to Do!

I like your funny roles so much better, not because I don't like you as a leading man, but because anybody can be a leading man; what you do with your comedy is so unique.

Oh, thank you. I really appreciate that. I aspire to be a Jon Hamm who can do it all.

Well, you are on the right path. Did you learn anything working with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne that you brought to this latest role?

Yeah, absolutely. It's really funny; they both have very different senses of style, and I think I probably talked about this with you in Platonic; they never pushed the joke. The joke always has to come to you, and they both, especially Rose, have this very low-energy sense of comedy that I just think is miraculous.

If the scene is funny, you don't have to do a lot to find the joke. And as I say this, I'm realizing my Santa Claus is definitely a little more high energy than Rose Byrne's performance in Platonic, but I've certainly learned a lot from those two.

Quite the Christmas Pickle

Do you prefer doing the high-energy comedy, or would you like to lean more into the more subtle roles?

I like doing the subtle stuff. I like doing that. I think with this particular movie, the stakes were so high, and that was built into it.

I mentioned earlier today that my character was very much inspired by Will Ferrell in Elf, a kind of wide-eyed earnestness about the world. But yeah, I'd like to play some more of the low-energy stuff going forward, but the role dictates the tempo.

Are you a fan of Elf?

I love that movie. I really love that movie. Are you a fan of Elf?

Catch Me If You Claus Key Art Poster

I love that movie, and I have to tell you that I did see parts of Elf in this movie, which is part of why I really enjoyed it.

Good. The idea that you're raised in this very particular environment, the North Pole, where your entire life is around the Christmas spirit, and there's probably not a lot of darkness in the North Pole. They're always working. They're always focused on the prize.

Christmas is important. So the idea that he hasn't seen a lot of the darker shades of the world, and he's a little bit naive to that. I love to think about that. He's not skeptical of anything. He's not cynical.

Exactly. And that's what my favorite scene in the movie was. Apparently, it was the one that you filmed on the first day when the two characters first meet.

Chris has just come down the chimney, and he's just so surprised that anybody wouldn't understand, "Hello? I came down the chimney because that's what you do. I'm Santa Claus," is just like, "This is so my world, but where are you? It's Christmas."

Yes, exactly. And then it becomes frustrating because she's preventing him from doing the most important thing. This is what he does for a living.

Avery Holds Chris at Arm's Length

It's so crazy, and it's perfect though. Did you emulate Elf at all?

Yes.

Did you emulate Will Ferrell? Did his performance inspire you?

I think it did inspire me, but also, like any good script, I think as he becomes a little bit wiser to the world and a little bit more realizing that he's attracted to this woman that he's spending this time with, he starts to shed a little bit of that. He starts to find his confidence a little bit.

Elf does that quite as much. I think as our movie goes on, Chris Vanderschmidt starts to really discover himself a little bit more, and it makes him a little bit less freaked out, a little bit wide-eyed, a little bit more of a grounded man, and starting to figure out what his purpose is, what his role is.

Chris is All tied Up

How would you describe his character?

There's this one moment in the movie, and it's shortly after she's escorting him across his front lawn, and my jacket falls off, and she very carefully and lovingly puts it on my shoulders. And to me, it's this moment of like, "Oh, she's a caring, kind person. You can relax a little bit. She's not going to harm you. It's okay. And isn't that nice? And oh, maybe I like her."

So that, for me, is the first moment when he realizes there might be something more than just an obstacle here. This woman is maybe someone who has something deeper and is going to help him, and they're going to start to be aligned.

So I think for him, that was the first moment of the journey, but then also realizing that he doesn't need to be afraid of his father and that he is going to do things his own way. And that's part of also growing up is saying, "Mom, Dad, I love you, but I've got to do things a little bit differently than you do."

And that was part of it. And I think once he is able to do all that, he can become a little bit more grounded and, frankly, become a little bit more appealing to Avery and not just a guy that's freaking out all the time because he's not going to finish his job.

Avery Has Chris All Tied Up

Well, in contrast, though, somebody might look at her and think that all she thinks about is her job as well. They have different jobs that they can both become too involved with.

That's right. And I think that was a very clever part of the script is the moment you start to realize that your life is going to find its direction, don't worry.

Just continue to be honest and in the moment and present. Yeah, I think that they have very parallel journeys in this movie, especially the shadow of a very impressive parent.

Absolutely. And so many of us can understand that.

Mm-hmm. Yes. You say that as if I should know who your mother or father is. [laughs]

Christmas Standoff

[laughs] Doesn't everybody feel like a child in the shadow of their parents, even if they're not Santa Claus?

Yes, totally. But I wouldn't be surprised if you were like, "My father is Tom Brokaw." [laughs]

Apparently, I'm a great actress. Who knew? [laughs]

Yeah, for sure. [laughs] Mom and Dad's opinion still means a great deal to me. Absolutely.

Chris Catches a Nap

So, where do you think this movie falls in line with your past Hallmark movies?

That's a great question. I do feel like it stands a little bit alone. It's definitely different.

I know that I had a really, really good time filming it. I'm not just saying that. I think the movie that I think it might closely resemble... I'm just trying to think over my other movies.

I don't know. I'm actually kind of struggling to think of another movie that it compares itself to. I know within the Hallmark recent canon, it's a little bit closer to Three Wise Men and a Baby in that it's a little bit more concept, and it's a little bit more big laughs. But as far as anything I've done, I can't really think of a comparative movie.

A Handsome Addition the Claus Family

Do you enjoy doing these higher-concept movies for Hallmark? That's a perfect way to phrase it -- concept movies. You get to do a lot of different stuff now.

Absolutely. And I also think Hallmark is really having a fun time experimenting with the model that they've built so beautifully.

It's like, "It's still the movie. We still have a wonderful romance. We still have all the great feelings of Christmas and that sense of comfort and joy and calmness and alright-ness in the world, but we're just turning it on its head a little bit and play a little bit more with concepts and asking the audience to come along and trust us on that."

So, I certainly have a fun time doing it, but it's partly because they've done such a good job establishing what the formula is. If you can show everybody what the formula is and then start to alter that formula a little bit, I think you have a recipe for continued growth, which is what Hallmark is doing so beautifully.

A Goofy Smile

Do you want to keep being a part of the Hallmark family? Your career is so wide and varied.

I do. I think that's exactly why I want to. I think everybody's career is kind of a mystery to them. When I started working for Hallmark, I want to say over ten years ago now, I didn't know a lot about them. And I feel like it's such a wonderful addition to all the other things I do.

As long as they keep having me, I will certainly keep coming and working with them for sure. I love making Hallmark films. I also have to say the cast, crews, directors, and producers I work with have always been some of the most collaborative, open-minded people I've worked with.

That's just for any actor a dream to not only feel like you're coming in to do a job but also to offer a perspective and an opinion and that it's heard. So that's a wonderful thing.

Christmas Comedy

When I talked to Italia earlier, she mentioned that you got to do a little bit of improv with this movie. Was that fun? From what I understand, that's not always the norm.

I was very grateful they gave me a couple of opportunities to, "Can I just try saying a line here or there?" There was one moment in the film where one of our thespians goes, "And as we say in the theater, the show must go on."

And I just thought it would be really funny if Chris offered his own idiom from the North Pole that he thought was just as popular as something like, "The show must go on."

Of course, nobody had any idea because they're not from the North Pole. So I just had fun riffing on idioms that made no sense.

So I was like, "Like we say in the North Pole, the gingerbread man has to run or else the fox is going to eat him," or, "Just like we say in the North Pole, 'Candy canes and thistles and wackadoodle missiles,'" something like that.

And I just kept on making up these ridiculous idioms, and it was a lot of fun. I think that they kept one of them. It was also fun to make Italia laugh. She has a great laugh.

Catching Chris Claus

Yeah, she said that she wishes that we could see the blooper reel because you guys had so much fun.

We honestly did. We were also filming that movie almost entirely in the middle of the night in Ottawa, so you're kind of a little punchy in the middle of the night. So, I like to think I'm funny, but I also had sleep deprivation to add to the punchiness of it all.

Well, now that you've played a member of the Claus family, how are you going to follow that up with your own holiday traditions?

Very funny. [laughs] My sister-in-law is making a stocking for my daughter, and it has Santa Claus on a sleigh, and I thought, "Oh my gosh, my daughter's going to be so confused." She's going to be like, "Is that Dad, or is that Santa Claus?" [laughs]

Another Intrusion?

This is your first Christmas with your big family.

The life of an actor -- confusing our kids. Yes, it is. Yes, it is. I'm really excited about that.

How exciting is it?

It's really exciting. I think it's more exciting for us than it is for her right now. Yeah, we're going up to Northern Colorado, and it's going to be snowy, hopefully. It's going to be great. Very excited.

Chris and Avery Decipher the Clues

And you get to tell her, "For your first Christmas, I played Santa Claus." So, not every kid gets that gift.

I know, but I also think that's just the poor kids of actors. It must be so confusing.

Well, you just have to wait a little while until she knows that Santa Claus isn't real. You don't want to spoil that dream with your face plastered all over her images of Santa Claus. [laughs] That would be tough.

[laughs] Yes, definitely. Definitely.

Chris Enjoying Christmas

Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that your holidays are fantastic. And I can't wait for everybody to see the movie and laugh along with the rest of us.

Thank you so much. I really love this movie, so I hope everyone loves it as much as I did making it.

-----------------------

Make sure your Thanksgiving is jolly and bright by tuning into Hallmark on Thursday, November 23 at 8/7c for the premiere of Catch Me If You Claus!

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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