Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa wound up being a big hit and a season favorite when it came out in 2003, and yet it took a shockingly long time for a sequel to get made. Now Bad Santa 2 is finally on the way, featuring Billy Bob Thornton's Willie Stokes teaming up with his mother, played by Kathy Bates... but it may surprise you to learn that an early version of the film was actually planned to star Robert Duvall as Willie's father.
I learned about this part of Bad Santa 2's history when I had the opportunity to sit down with director Mark Waters at the movie's Los Angeles press day earlier this month. At the start of the interview, I asked the filmmaker if he could tell me about the different ideas that were tossed around prior to the one that was settled on for the plot, and Waters told me that there was a point when the sequel was going to be an adventure with Willie and his father. Said the director,
According to Mark Waters, Kathy Bates came aboard as soon as she was asked - but was only in November 2015, so that was pretty late in the process. The director didn't elaborate on how far things actually went with Duvall, so for now we don't know if he was just thought of as a potential actor for the part, or if he was actually approached.
Of course, the change from being about Willie's dad to being about Willie's mom wasn't the only change that Bad Santa 2 went through during its long wait to be made. According to Mark Waters -- who admittedly wasn't around for the entire development process -- there was some debate early on about if and how to bring back Tony Cox's Marcus and Brett Kelly's Thurman Merman. The director explained,
You can watch Mark Waters talk about the long development process for Bad Santa 2 and the casting of Kathy Bates in the video below!
Bad Santa 2 arrives in theaters this Wednesday, November 23rd, and be sure to stay tuned for more from my interview with director Mark Waters and Billy Bob Thornton!