FSM Media

by Dianna Ranere

Interview: Peter Billingsley On Bringing Back the Right Amount of Nostalgia in A Christmas Story Christmas

Ralphie is all grown up in this sequel to the annual holiday favorite in which he must deal with Christmas and all that comes with it, this time as a dad.  Peter Billingsley returns to the role that has made kids of all ages anticipate Christmas morning like no other.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Billingsley about the movie. It’s been nearly 40 years since the original movie A Christmas Story debuted, and in this film, we get quite a few callbacks to some of the most iconic scenes from the original. I told Peter that this film feels like a love letter to the fans with all of the callbacks to the original, so I asked what role he had in choosing those callbacks.

I co-wrote the story and produced the film, and wanted to make sure that we were doing it right. (I’m) glad you feel that way about callbacks, it’s easy to lean into them and just kind of redo scenes based on the original iconic scenes, but I think then you have kind of a hollow movie. So it was important to have its own story, but you know that people want some access to those things.

I think for any of us who have gone back to our childhood homes, which a lot of us have as adults, it’s a weird feeling, it kind of looks the same, but it’s not, but it kind of feels the same and you almost hear voices or echoes, you see things, and then even I think for Ralph’s character to go back to home, you want to be a success, but then maybe you haven’t quite measured up yet and your friends think you’re a big success. So it’s a combustible feeling but we tried to balance giving enough easter eggs, nostalgia, and callbacks, but not having the movie rely on them because it would have been easy to do that.

I love when I pick up the lampshade in the attic and I just throw it away to grab the typewriter. It’s like it’s sort of this almost frustrating, but in a good way. Because I think that’s real. It’s like, I’m way past that, and I’ve got something that I’m looking for. So we tried to tease and then there’s a little shot of the BB gun when I’m writing the story.

We did a lot of still photos of the original composition of certain shots, and then how we married and match the composition of those shots. There are quite a few shot-for-shot elements that are the same, that aren’t even necessarily really story elements. Like when I’m sitting with my mom, and the fuse goes out, that was really the ending shot of the movie with Darren and Melinda in the original. So there are lots of cool moments like that.

Watch the full interview below featuring myself and other bloggers discussing the film which will air exclusively on HBO Max on November 17th.