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

Peter Billingsley (Getty Images)

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

The man best known for playing Ralphie Parker, the air rifle seeker, Hammond, Indiana, pre-teen in the 1940s holiday staple Christmas story, she did not disappear at all in anonymity. He has mostly moved behind the camera as producer and director. The 51-year-old Billingsley often worked with close friends Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn as producer on Manufacture (2001), Hour farewell (2005), Iron Man (2008) and four holidays (2008), and he directed the comedy in 2009 Retrieving pairs.

Billingsley never stopped acting, both in parts and in parts: He blew up the Internet’s collective mind with an uncredited appearance in Favreau-helmed dwarfand reprized it Iron Man The role of Stark Industries scientist William Ginter Riva in 2019 Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Returning to Ralphie, though, is something Billingsley has long considered since he wrapped the 1983 classic, and he’s finally taking a shot at it with the new four-decade-old HBO Max sequel, Christmas story Christmas.

“It’s been official for about four years,” Billingsley explains. “But over the years it got into my head, and then nothing necessarily stuck. I don’t know the timing was right, or the point of entry was right. There were some bad ideas that were thrown at me. Or people who just want to monetize it. Anytime is Something works, Hollywood knows: “Do it again, do it again, do it again.”

“But for me, just knowing the history 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 do it right. And so it took a while to build a story around the elements that we needed.” .

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

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

Billingsley co-wrote the story for the sequel, and also co-produced it with Vaughn (Clay Catess directed it from a screenplay by Catess and Nick Schenk). In 1973, Ralphie is now a struggling Chicago sci-fi author married with two children who returns to Hammond after the death of his father, aka “Old Man” (Darren McGavin) – and feels the full weight of planning the perfect Christmas, something his father excelled on his shoulders.

As for those bad ideas Billingsley promoted? “Language fruit [was always]”Ralphie wants something new. What thing do adults want? And he’s going.” crazy trying to get it. [There’s] Just without thinking about what that trip is.

So that’s the starting point [in A Christmas Story Christmas] Ho, what does Ralphie look like as a father? What does his family look like? The premise with which we open the movie is that you wanted the perfect gift as a child, but as a parent, you want Christmas to be perfect for your kids. And he’s kind of in that transition where he’s in that place right now and that’s what he wants to do. It was his suffering that the old man had recently gone away, so he could not count on anyone, and went home [when] His life isn’t where he wants to be.” He’s got a great family. He’s in the big city. But with his career, he just hasn’t measured it yet.”

A Christmas Story, Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, 1983, (c) MGM/co

Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon in 1983’s A Christmas Story (Photo: MGM/courtesy Everett Collection)

In the life that imitates art, Billingsley admits he felt the pressure of reviving such treasured possessions as hers Christmas story.

He says “one hundred percent”. “We’ve pretty much described it as a real mix of playing offense and defense, which you generally don’t do in a movie, you just want to be offensive and go and score and win and make something great. But you have to be smart and protective of it. You have to be disciplined. Get your easter eggs.” , but don’t immerse yourself in it for too long [when it comes to] your callbacks. Get the nostalgia but don’t overdo it. Create something new. “

Billingsley credits Vaughn, Kaytis, Schenk, and his crew (incl an airport! Julie Hagerty, who takes on the role of Mrs. Parker) helps him return faithfully to the Christmas story Universe.

“It took a while to get well,” he says. “We had to save the pieces and the resources. Otherwise, something else would have been done. This wasn’t the person to deal with.”

Christmas story Christmas Streaming now on HBO Max. Billingsley will also appear soon at Christmas with the Campbellsopening in theaters and broadcasting on AMC+ December 2.

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