Mel Gibson Santa

Quick: who’s the first actor who comes to mind when you think about Santa Claus, that good-natured, jolly old Christmas mascot who brings joy to millions of children around the world? For me, it will always be Edmund Gwenn, the guy who played Kris Kringle in the 1947 classic Miracle on 34th Street. But for a whole new generation of kids, the answer just might end up being actor/director Mel Gibson, who has just been cast to play Santa in a new movie called Fatman. And in this movie, Santa’s being hunted down by a hitman.

The Hollywood Reporter says that this Mel Gibson Santa Claus movie is not some elaborate joke, but in fact a real project that’s looking for funding at Cannes this year. Here’s how the outlet describes the film:

Fatman is the story of a rowdy, unorthodox Santa who is fighting his business decline. Meanwhile, Billy, a neglected and precocious 12-year-old hires a hitman to kill Santa after receiving a lump of coal in his stocking.

Ian and Eshom Nelms (Small Town CrimeWaffle Street, Lost on Purpose) wrote the script and will direct together.

The notion of Santa being played by an action star isn’t new – Kurt Russell played him for Netflix in last year’s The Christmas Chronicles, and even wrestler Bill Goldberg suited up at St. Nick in the horror film Santa’s Slay. Gibson’s resume is full of action movies, so I suppose, if you squint and twist yourself into a pretzel, you can make this casting make sense in terms of continuing that legacy. On the other hand, this is Mel Gibson we’re talking about. While Hollywood has clearly forgiven him for his myriad off-screen transgressions, there’s something inherently troubling to me about a beloved children’s icon being portrayed by a guy who once told his girlfriend, “You look like a fucking bitch in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of ni**ers it’ll be your fault. All right? Because you provoked it.”

“I am excited to be working with the incredibly talented Nelms Brothers who have written a unique, highly entertaining script,” said producer Nadine de Barros. “Mel is the perfect choice as Kris Kringle like we’ve never seen him before. I couldn’t be more thrilled to watch this darkly comedic Christmas film come to life.”

The idea of Santa Claus reckoning with competing businesses is an interesting one. If the movie were to ask the question of whether or not Santa is necessary in a world dominated by Amazon, that has some fascinating dramatic potential and the chance to give us some insight into Santa as a character instead of just as a surface level, larger-than-life figure. I certainly don’t judge anyone who thinks this sounds like an amusing concept and is looking forward to seeing how it plays out. I just know that because of Gibson’s involvement, I’ll probably end up skipping this one.

Filming is scheduled to begin in Canada early next year.

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