Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates Reveal 5 Fun Facts about Bad Santa 2

 Bad Santa 2 Billy Bob Thornton on set

Thirteen years has passed since the original BAD SANTA, and Billy Bob Thornton returns for more holiday shenanigans as the drunken Willie along with his two sidekicks in a sequel to the offbeat comedy. The BAD SANTA 2 stars and director talk about the long and windy road in making the sequel.

Kathy Bates joins the cast as a tough motorcycle chick who’s the reason why Willie wants to drink himself to death. Tony Cox’s Marcus convinces Willie to join in another heist, but the catch is his mom, Sunny Soke, is part of the crew. BAD SANTA 2 stars Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates and director Mark Waters discussed some interesting stories surrounding the sequel at a recent Los Angeles press conference for the movie.

1. Billy Bob Thornton Fought Twice To Cast Tony Cox and Bretty Kelly As Sidekicks

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The original idea for the sequel was to bring back only Willie, but Thornton insisted the angry little sidekick played by Tony Cox and the chubby but cheery Thurman Murman (Brett Kelly) also had to return. He equates the trio’s chemistry to music group ZZ Top.

“This is like going to see ZZ Top, and Dusty Hill is the only one left, and the guitar player is Steve Vai and the drummer is Tommy Lee. That ain’t ZZ Top. You gotta have this trio. That’s what people want to see. They just don’t want to see Bad Santa. They want to see those three together.”

Thornton added he was “adamant” about that and everyone obliged.

This wasn’t the first time he had to fight for the cast. In the original, BAD SANTA director Terry Zwigoff called Thornton to help him convince producers and studio executives that Tony Cox and Brett Kelly were the right choices for the Marcus and Therman Merman roles. The BAD SANTA star says they wanted to hire different actors, but together he and Zwigoff convinced the film’s producers.

Bad Santa2 Billy Bob Thornton Kathy Bates

“I got on Terry’s side and we pushed that through,” says Thornton.

Another setback occurred when Brett Kelly got chicken pox so Thornton didn’t meet him until afterwards. The director insisted on waiting for his recovery, and didn’t want to cast anyone else. When he did finally meet him. It was a like a dream come true.

“Are you kidding me? This is like the Marlon Brando of Thurman Murmans.”

2. Mother vs Father

Early drafts of the BAD SANTA sequel included an equally screwed up father figure for Willie, but director Mark Waters says Thornton pushed back on the idea.

“The problem with having the father is that you have two Willies,” says Thornton before he heads off in another direction. ” Which by the way I do. (press erupt in laughter) It’s like the space shuttle. (more laughter) If you have another man doing what Willie is doing, then it’s too close.”

He credits someone else with coming up with the idea of making the character the mom instead, and that prompted someone else to bring up Kathy Bates for the role. Thornton thought both ideas were brilliant. The character’s’ name was changed from “Sonny” to “Sunny” on the script.

Director Waters says having the mother who is less than nurturing in the traditional sense provided more fodder for drama.

3. Reason Why It Took 13 Years For Sequel

Thornton reveals the reason for the long gap between movies came down to various factors.

First the studio was in transition a few times. “We had to wait for all the red tape to be sorted out.”

Another reason for the delay was getting the script right which took over a three year span.

“One of the mistakes comedies make sometimes is that they do a sequel if it’s successful - they do a sequel immediately. And you have the same people you just saw, they do it in order to make it different. They go really far with it. They make it broader.”

In BAD SANTA 2, they looked to push the boundaries especially with the “raunchy stuff,” but Thornton feels the the sequel is a little more emotional and much more in the Christmas spirit than the first one.

4. Kathy Bates' Acting Process

Bad Santa2 Billy Bob Thornton Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates’ Sunny Sokes definitely doesn’t get the mother of the year award for BAD SANTA 2. The boozing, awful mother has no redeeming qualities.

Bates has played a string of negative characters recently with this movie and the current season of “American Horror Stories.”

She revealed during the interview that she has a ritual of getting rid of those characters once she wraps for the day.

“If I’m doing something really horrendous. I actually go through a ritual when I take my costume and make-up off, and I visualize removing all that negative energy from myself. It’s not me. It’s someone else.”

5. Thornton Tricks Tony Cox

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Billy Bob Thornton calls his BAD SANTA co-star a “genuinely good human being” so the beating scenes in the first movie were really hard for Cox to lay into Thornton’s Willie. BAD SANTA director Terry Zwigoff asked Thornton to help him get a rise out of Tony Cox.

“Tony just doesn’t have that part of him that wanted to beat me up because we were buddies, you know. And I told him one day that his wife had been flirting with me. I don’t know what it is about your wife, she just won’t leave me alone. He started slapping me in the face. The next take was perfect.”

It was after that take when Thornton revealed he was just “messing with him.”

BAD SANTA 2 director added that Tony Cox didn’t have an issue with spouting the profanity-laced insults at his co-stars, but he did ask the writers to cut out the “Jesus” and “Christ” from his dialogue since he is a “devout Christian.”

BAD SANTA 2 is now playing in movie theaters.

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