‘A Christmas Story’ star Peter Billingsley reveals why he’s finally rehashing Ralphie and all the bad sequel ideas he’s heard over the years

‘A Christmas Story’ star Peter Billingsley reveals why he’s finally rehashing Ralphie and all the bad sequel ideas he’s heard over the years

Peter Billingsley (Getty Images)

Peter Billingsley (Getty Images)

Of all the “Where are they now?” stories about former child stars, Peter Billingsley has one of the most fascinating.

The man who so famously played Ralphie Parker, the air rifle seeker, Hammond, Ind., pre-teen in the 1940s on vacation A Christmas Story, was not at all lost in anonymity. He just moved mostly behind the camera as a producer and director. Often collaborating with close friends Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, the now 51-year-old Billingsley produced on He made (2001), The separation (2005), Iron Man (2008) and Four Christmases (2008) and directed the ensemble comedy in 2009 Couples Retreat.

Billingsley never stopped acting, not even in bits and pieces: He blew the internet’s collective mind with an incredible performance in the Favreau-helmed Elfand repeated his Iron Man role of Stark Industries scientist William Ginter Riva in 2019 Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Returning to Ralphie, however, is something Billingsley has been thinking about for some time since he finished the 1983 classic, and he finally took a chance with the new HBO Max sequel four decades later. Christmas story Christmas.

“It’s officially been in the works for about four years,” Billingsley explains. “But over the years it would pop into my head and then nothing necessarily stuck. I don’t know that the timing was right or the entry point was right. There have been some bad ideas that have been pushed to me. Or people who just want to generate income. Whenever something is successful, you know Hollywood: “Do it again, do it again, do it again.”

“But for me, just knowing the story of the original, it’s almost sacred now, this movie, at this point. So you really want to have the confidence at the starting point to get it right. And so it took a while to build the story around the elements we needed.”

Peter Billingsley at

Peter Billingsley in ‘A Christmas Story Christmas’ (Warner Bros/HBO Max)

Billingsley wrote the story for the sequel, and co-produced it with Vaughn (directed by Clay Katis from a script by Kaytis and Nick Schenk). In 1973, Ralphie is now a struggling Chicago science fiction writer, married with two children, who returns to Hammond after the death of his father, aka “The Old Man” (Darren McGavin) — and feels all the his burden to plan the perfect Christmas. something his father excelled at, on his shoulders.

As for those bad ideas Billingsley put forth? “The low-hanging fruit [was always], “Ralphie wants something new. What object do adults want? And it will go crazy trying to get it.” [There’s] I just don’t think about what this trip was.

“So the starting point [in A Christmas Story Christmas] is, how is ralph as a father? How is his family? The premise that we open the film with is that as a child you want the perfect gift, but as a parent you want Christmas to be perfect for your children. And he’s kind of in that shift where he’s in this place now and that’s what he wants to do. And his struggles are the death of the Old Man recently, so he can’t rely on anyone, and go home [when] his life is not where he wants it to be.” He has a big family. It’s in the Big City. But with his career, he hasn’t counted enough yet.”

A CHRISTMAS STORY, Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, Darrin McGavin, Melinda Dillon, 1983, (c) MGM/co

Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, Darrin McGavin and Melinda Dillon in ‘A Christmas Story’ 1983 (Photo: MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection)

In Art Imitating Life, Billingsley admits he felt pressured to revive a property as beloved as A Christmas Story.

“One hundred percent,” he says. “We described it a lot as a real mix of offense and defense, which you don’t generally do in a movie, you just want to be aggressive and go score and win and do something great. But you have to be smart and protective about it. You have to be disciplined. Eat your Easter eggs, but don’t soak them too long [when it comes to] your callbacks. Have the nostalgia but don’t dwell on it. Create something new.”

Billingsley credits Vaughn, Kaytis, Schenk and his cast (incl Airplane! vet Julie Haggerty, who plays Mrs. Parker) helping him responsibly return to Christmas story universe.

“It took a while to get it right,” he says. “We had to have the pieces in place and the resources. Otherwise, go do something else. It wasn’t what was meant to be dealt with.”

Christmas story Christmas now streaming on HBO Max. Billingsley will also appear soon Christmas with the Campbellswhich opens in theaters and airs on AMC+ Dec. 2.

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