London, UK – Renowned British actor Timothy Spall is set to enchant audiences this Christmas in a heartwarming yet unconventional holiday tale titled “Joy to the World.” In an exclusive interview with Variety, Spall shared insights into the film, directed by Edward Hall and produced by Calico Pictures and Studio Hamburg U.K. for Sky. Joining Spall in this festive adventure is the talented James Nesbitt.
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“It’s a Christmas story, but an unusual Christmas story,” Spall remarked. He went on to provide a glimpse into the film’s premise: “It’s about a troubled 12-year-old kid who is pretty obnoxious, really. He is clever but doesn’t like his life. His mom is struggling, and his brother is desperate for a present he is not going to get. He is full of hate. Then he witnesses a robbery.”
The plot takes a unique turn as this robbery unfolds during a “Santa Dash.” Spall elaborated further: “He sees one of them rob a bank, tries to pursue him, and then encounters this old man in the woods, under the tree, claiming he is Father Christmas. Obviously, the kid thinks he’s mad. It’s a sweet movie, but it has this hard edge to it, too. It’s all about the battle for this boy’s soul. Which way is he going to go?”
Spall, currently in Finland promoting “The Last Bus,” revealed that he will adopt “a bit of a Nordic accent” for his role in “Joy to the World.” When asked about the challenge of portraying Father Christmas, he humorously shared, “When I was being made up as Father Christmas, they would always say: ‘Can we film you?’ I said no. How many magicians reveal their tricks? I have seven grandchildren. One of them is always watching ‘Enchanted’ and goes: ‘Oh, fat granddad.’ So she knows, but I hope other kids won’t recognize me this time. I want them to wonder: ‘Is that real Santa?'”
Spall, a BAFTA-nominated actor known for his acclaimed collaborations with director Mike Leigh, is no stranger to younger audiences thanks to his role as Peter Pettigrew, a.k.a. Wormtail, in the “Harry Potter” franchise. Reflecting on the enduring appeal of the series, he commented, “Harry Potter is still such a big deal. It’s edging towards becoming a bit of a religion. It’s bizarre.”
Turning his attention to the film industry’s evolving landscape, Spall expressed his concern regarding the use of artificial intelligence in filmmaking. “I am on strike because of that! That’s about intellectual property as well, about creativity and your image being your own. People are suffering now, and it’s not just actors – it’s many, many crew members as well. It seems like a very important moment, and we have to define it all across the board.”
As Timothy Spall prepares to bring “Joy to the World” to screens this holiday season, audiences can anticipate a heartwarming and thought-provoking cinematic experience that captures the essence of Christmas while challenging conventional storytelling norms.