Tony Cox has stepped back into his elf costume to rejoin Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa 2, the sequel to the successful 2003 film. Tony chatted with us about reprising his role as Marcus, working with the sequels new cast member Kathy Bates, as well as working with new director Mark Waters.
So let’s talk about re-visiting this character after 13 years, tell me what that first day back on set was like?
Tony: It was great. I know the first day, I didn’t have maybe but one line. It was the second day when I really felt like I was back. I could feel that character because I had that scene with Billy like when we first meet my first meeting with him. That’s when I felt like we’re back.
And then when they first asked you back initially what was that conversation like?
Tony: I was happy. I think we all had the same feeling. There had been a few changes with the studio and different thing like that. After five years I started thinking like maybe it won’t get done. But once they decided they wanted to do it everything happened pretty fast. I had a meeting with the producers then next thing about a week and a half later I think I had the script, it was going on pretty fast happening pretty fast.
Why do you think people initially fell in love with the original Bad Santa, because it was very unconventional for its time?
Tony: I just felt it was something different. It was funny, and even though it had the language in it, it was real because Christmas is not everybody in this world is like Christmas isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, you know loving and family people are going through different things. I think people can relate to that and then I think the kid brought the Christmas element to it because Billy’s character even though you know he is a womanizer he doesn’t care about nothing, and he didn’t want to care about the kid, but he just couldn’t help it. It was something about that kid that kept drawing him back to the kid. I just think that was the whole element that made the Christmas movie work.
Your character is definitely a trip to say the least, what do you love about playing Marcus?
Tony: I like picking on Billy’s character. Really I just like picking on him and I think he likes the fact that I do that. Here’s this three foot six inch guy and I’m dishing it out. Billy Bob just has a way he does lines that just makes me want to give it to him. I just think that’s what does it for me. I get the chance to just let him have it.
This time you guys had the legendary Kathy Bates around, what was that like having her the second time around?
Tony: That was one of the best things to happen in the film. I remember I was on the phone with the producer and him saying we’re changing Billy having a father to Billy having a mother. And as soon as he said that I said man Kathy Bates would be great and he said that’s who we’re trying to get. Kathy was the best thing to happen to the movie. She was willing to go along with whatever. She was a big fan of the first Bad Santa. Kathy was just excellent. I can’t think of anybody else who could have done that. Kathy stands alone. Somebody should create an Academy Award for her.
The film uses a lot of self-deprecating humor. Why is it so important for people to laugh at themselves sometimes?
Tony: I just think the world needs more of it. I just think there’s a lot of things happening in the world. I just like making people laugh. It just seems like those are the roles that I get even though I can do drama, I like doing comedy. People can just let go, and I think in a time like this and everything is happening here and there I just think Bad Santa is the perfect movie. It took thirteen years to make it, and sometimes time gets better with time.
In what ways is the second movie a different film from the first one?
Tony: It’s a continuation, but it’s really the same thing except for the kid. I think Brett really had to come up with some stuff because he was like eight years old at the time when we made the film, so now he came back and in real life he just graduated from college like two weeks before we did this movie. So I think Brett had to make the biggest change from playing that kid to now being this adult. But the thing is he still has that mentality from when he was an eight year old. I think that just makes the whole thing worse.
Talk about working with Mark Waters.
Tony: Mark was the best. One thing about Mark he would always come to me about certain things and we the one that played the roles and here he was the director coming in. He’s an actor’s director . Mark was just great. He was probably the best director besides the one that made it. If you had to bring him back then Mark is the one he would bring on. Everybody got along with Mark. Mark cast in his mind the way he wanted it. He’s the perfect actor’s director.