Violent Night Interview – Director Tommy Wirkola teases Christmas action flick with new trailer – interviews, must-see trailers, trailers •

Entitled “Die Hard” with Santa Claus director, Tommy Wirkola hopes his new Christmas comedy action movie will become one of those movies that audiences come back to every Christmas. Arriving in theaters in December, “Violent Night” seems like a new Christmas classic. Set on a wealthy family estate on Christmas Eve, a group of mercenaries burst in and take everyone hostage, the team unprepared for a surprise fighter: Santa Claus is in the field, and he’s about to show why this Nick isn’t a saint. Watch the first trailer here ->

We caught up with razor-sharp Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola, who previously directed Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, and the Dead Snow franchise to discuss his celebratory flick.

Watch the VIOLENT NIGHT trailer below

So, Tommy, what drew you to ‘Violent Night’?
Well, that was the script, honestly…the producers sent it to me, a little over a year ago. So it was a quick process. They sent me the script and only said one thing, it’s basically “Die Hard” with Santa Claus. I thought it was a beautiful script, it was so funny and full of action and everything I expected. He really had a big heart, like it was a Christmas movie. And that’s the first thing I said to the studio, it’s great. I would like to. I love the script. But one thing that we should really focus on is the Christmas movie aspect, and really, really try to go swinging for a big beating heart because then we can go crazy with all this other stuff. It was a home run for me when I read it, and I loved it.

You are known for subverting genres, “Dead Snow”, “Hansel and Gretel” to name just a few of your films. So when it came to ‘Violent Night,’ were you excited about being able to subvert another kind of Christmas movie?

That was definitely part of the appeal… I love Christmas movies. When I read it I said, yeah, that’s the one thing that struck me, I really want to try and embrace it and go for it. So when we did the rewrite after that, that’s what we’re trying to explore more and bring in other Christmas tropes and cliches and try to make it more our own and try to have fun with them. And there’s a few scenes in the movie, which I don’t want to spoil, but we’re basically paying homage to a Christmas movie, compressed into two minutes, and going crazy with that and I think that’s a showstopper in the movie .

Plus, it was really fun to explore this amazing world and genre. Again, if you have real emotion and I’m trying not to hide the fact that you’re doing a Christmas movie and you’re okay with it, you can really get into other things, and we we really did. And kudos to Universal Studios for really letting us have it. There were a few times where we were working on the script, and we sent it to them. And I was pretty sure they were going to say ‘what the hell are you doing?, you have to cut this… You can’t do this’. But they were quite the opposite.

They wanted us to go there and swing for the fences. I think they know nowadays and you know it’s a movie it’s 130 million dollars it’s gonna be a theatrical release you gotta have something it gotta be something extra it there has to be an attitude or an edge or something that will make people go to the movies. They really supported us and I think the film because of that, at least for me, is special.

You have to find the perfect cast for Santa Claus. What was the process for choosing Santa Claus? And how did you end up casting David Harbour?
Well, I mean, Santa Claus when you meet him in the script, he’s kind of in a weird place. He’s a bit depressed and he’s kind of lost a bit of faith in himself, in humanity, and in Christmas. It’s just that consumerism has taken over. He wonders why do we still celebrate Christmas? We do not care? Who cares about that, who cares about me, so he’s in a dark spot? Then it’s up to him to deliver his presents, and he thinks it’s going to be a normal Christmas, but then he gets sucked into history with these terrorists taking over this house. And he meets this little girl whom he decides to help and through this little girl he discovers his old self and his belief in himself and in Christmas.

So there were plenty of strings for any actor to play on and plenty of fun places. And it was one of those things where you met the producers in the studio, and he started throwing out names. And then when David’s name came up, it was like, oh, yeah, that’s it. As if it made any sense in the world.

He read the script and he loved it. He saw the same movie as us and had a lot of good ideas. I’m so excited for people to see what he’s done in this role. I didn’t think about it until I made the movie and I’m sure it can be intimidating for an actor to play Santa Claus. He’s obviously a character done so many times, in so many variations, and he’s an iconic figure, and doing something new and fresh and original is hard. However, I think he really succeeded.

Your hero is only good when there is a big bad guy. You have chosen a great actor for this with John Leguizamo. What was the process to get him into your film?
Obviously, growing up and as a movie buff and movie buff, I’ve seen him in so many different roles and variations. He’s funny, and he’s dangerous, and he’s smart. His stand-up shows are amazing. I read his biography a long time ago. He’s so honest and funny in this book too. So I’ve always been a big fan of him. One of the most iconic performances for me, like, I remember it so well, is in Carlito’s Way. He is always good. It is always interesting. We sent him the script, and he really responded to it and put a lot of effort into it. He is also very good at ad libbing and throwing lines, jokes and gags.

However, when we talked about it, me, David, and him and all the actors, we decided, in this type of film, where it’s augmented reality and augmented concept and all that, we didn’t want to drown out the performances, we can’t try to be funny, because then it won’t work. So he really made the character dangerous. We also added extra layers because it’s not just about stealing the family, it also has a chip on its shoulder when it comes to Christmas. It was truly a pleasure to work with both of them. We have a big scene in the middle of the movie where they face each other for the first time. It was a real joy and John is just an amazing character.

All Christmas movies also rely on their young actors, and here you have a very precocious young actor. What was it like with her and how do you involve her in the more action-oriented nature of the movie, because it’s a very intense, action-packed movie?
There’s no denying that she and Harbor are central to the film. If they don’t work, the movie doesn’t work. They have a common thread throughout the film, how they find each other, help each other and support each other. She was smart, funny and good. She just had her natural innocence and ability to perform on camera. And there are some intense scenes for her as well as some scenes where she has to deliver a few lines that are some of the biggest laughs in the film. And that is not easy. It’s not an easy thing, timing, comic timing, and luckily she had a mother who rehearsed a lot with her before she showed up. And the mom also understood the tone of the film. So she knew how to come in a lot of things. But again, I have to give Harbor credit, there’s a lot of scenes where they’re talking on the walkie-talkie, and he really helped her. They really have something special in the film. They are so funny together too. But you’re right, it’s a Christmas movie. Good childlike character is so important. The writers really understood that from day one.

What do you think of bringing Violent Night to New York Comic-Con?
Well, this is my first time attending a con, so I’m super excited to go. I have so many good things. Also, David is going to be there and so is John, and we’re going to show that on Friday. I’m very nervous and excited about this. I think it looks like a good fit for the crowd though the movie.

What do you hope audience ticket audiences take away from Violent Night? It’s always that type of subversive film that sometimes gives you more heart, I think.
Going back to that first meeting I had with Universal Studios and the producers, and I think, and I know people will appreciate the action and the humor and the fact that we pushed it a lot and we’re there went. But I said that when the audience came out of the theater, I really wanted to have that good feeling of seeing a Christmas movie. I really think we did. ‘Violent Night’ really wears its heart on its sleeve. I hope they come out with a smile on their face and are ready for Christmas, and I hope they watch it next Christmas at home, and it becomes one of those movies where you will be able to watch it after seeing all the normal Christmas Movies.

Words – Graham Day

VIOLENT NIGHT hits Irish cinemas on December 2

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