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SYFY WIRE Santa Claus

Tim Allen welcomes his daughter to 'The Santa Clauses' family and Elizabeth Mitchell finally gets Mrs. Claus rights

The new Disney+ series has Father Christmas working with his real-life daughter. 

By Tara Bennett

Is there a better gig than getting booked in a holiday movie? Who can hate the world when everyone is being nice and there's fake snow and hot cocoa is used as an actual prop? Even months later, when SYFY WIRE spoke with the stars of the new Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, you could feel the Christmas cheer. Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Kal Penn, Austin Kane, and Elizabeth Allen-Dick about their gave us the gift of talking about the show, which debuted on Nov. 16. 

The six-episode series continues the story that begin in the 1994 holiday comedy, The Santa Clause. It's 28 years later and Scott Calvin (Allen) has settled into his role as Santa Claus, along with his long-suffering wife, Carol (Mitchell), and their now teen kids, Buddy (Kane) and Sandra (Allen-Dick). In the first two episodes, "Chapter One: Good To Ho" and "Chapter Two: The Secessus Clause," it's clear that the whole Calvin family is suffering from the demands of Santa's role on the planet, which prompts the big guy to think about finding a replacement. 

In particular, Carol/Mrs. Claus is definitely feeling underutilized and under-appreciated because the elves — and the whole world — just know her as the missus, and she doesn't much agency of her own. She's salty about getting her rights back, and not hiding it which Mitchell tells SYFY WIRE was a delight to read in the scripts. "Our writers room has so many women and I am so nuts about each and every one of them," the actress says. "I felt like I was in great hands so I very rarely had to be like, 'Oh, we need more.' I felt like they gave me so much. I loved what I read."

Mitchell adds that coming out of the pandemic lockdowns, she especially had empathy for where Carol starts in this series. "I know at the beginning of our lockdown here, I was cooking every night and finally I was like, 'You know what, I get zero appreciation for this. I'm out. Have fun!'" she laughs. "As a result, everybody in the house cooked but me, and I was like, 'Fantastic! I love this.' I just needed a little bit of appreciation and I think Carol is the same way."

The Calvin family also features a surprise familial connection with Tim Allen and Elizabeth Allen-Dick, who are really father and daughter in real life. During casting, Allen says he jokingly suggested that Elizabeth should audition to play an elf. Then the producers said she should read for an actual speaking part. 

"I said, 'No! I'm not asking you to put her in the movie. She's got school and basketball. She's got a lot of stuff going on. This is not something she does,'" Allen recalls.

But she, read for the part of Sandra and landed it. "Even though the Sandra's she's playing was supposed to be older, they said, 'We like her as this,'" Allen explains. "And I said, 'I want to stay out of this if I can,' But, she's in it and the magic happened. Now I've got family in it and it's about family. You couldn't coordinate this better."

The Santa Clauses Season 1 Episode 2

Austin Kane — a veteran child actor who is now a college student — plays Sandra's brother Buddy/Cal. Kane admits that he expected that he might be asked to show Allen-Dick the ropes of working on a set, but that never materialized.

"I've been around the [acting] block then it feels like you're new every time you're on a new set, especially one full of iconic actors and actresses," Kane says. "I thought I was going to have to mentor Elizabeth Allen but she's a pro. She didn't need it."

As the siblings, Sandra and Buddy are bonded by their remote childhoods being raised in the North Pole. Because of their closed circle, she has an affinity for odd creatures and Buddy is obsessed with escaping into VR which lets him experience a normal life doing normal things. Kane says they became close on set, too, building their brother/sister dynamic. "She is a single child for the most part and grew up without an older brother," Kane explains. "But she did mention towards the end of [the shoot] how it really does feel like she has an older brother now, and that was like the nicest thing to hear." 

Asked if it was calming or nerve-wracking to have her dad on set with her on her first acting job, and Allen-Dick admits she was neutral about his presence. "I'm happy that he was on set with me because it was so much fun," she shares. "He's funny. He makes jokes in between the takes. And all the cast members, we just got along so well. But also, he isn't my dad on set. I'm not asking him for help. I'm not telling him like, 'Okay, what do I do next?' He really let me experience it on my own, which I really enjoyed because then I was able to make it my own and decide what worked for me."

She did appreciate getting to start the job by filming with her dad on a pivotal scene. "We did one scene that was just the two of us and it was a big scene set at the Disney Ranch," she says. "It was just very emotional. We both enjoyed it and I think it was probably one of my favorite things that I did."

The other major player in the series is Kal Penn's game developer Simon Choks who is one of those candidates Scott ends up considering as the man who will take over the red coat and reindeer. Penn says after he was cast, he first got to meet Mitchell and Allen via a Zoom script read-through.

"But, the first time I met Tim in real life, he was already in the Santa suit, so that was very surreal because then the kid in you is just like, 'Be on your best behavior. This is Santa Claus," Penn says with a laugh. "Getting to know him was great. He's such a very funny guy off-screen, obviously. But also incredibly thoughtful and a real joy to work with, talking through scene structure and making sure everything's grounded. And then also just finding weird, random jokes that come off the page that may, or may not, be scripted is a lot of fun with him."

As to the odds of Simon getting to wear the costume himself by the season's end? Penn laughs and says, "It's pretty cool that Simon Choks' initials are S.C."

In the mood for Christmas cheer? Stream tons of great holiday movies on Peacock.