When Disney first offered actor Eric Stonestreet the role of Magnus Antas, aka the “Mad Santa,” in the holiday series The Santa Clauses on Disney+, he wasn’t actually looking for a job.
In a recent interview, the former Modern Family actor talked about how he came into the role opposite actor Tim Allen as Santa Claus in Season 2 of the festive series.
“The Santa Clauses” on Disney+
The Santa Clauses, starring Santa extraordinaire Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Kal Penn, Austin Kane, Elizabeth Allen Dick, Gabriel Iglesias, and Eric Stonestreet, picks up years after the events of Disney’s The Santa Clause, The Santa Clause 2, and The Santa Clause 3 and follows the story of Scott Calvin, who became Santa Claus years ago when the previous Santa fell off his roof.
In the series, Santa, aka Scott Calvin, is married with two more children, Cal and Sandra, and as Santa is aging, so is his magic. Now, he’s tasked with seeking a replacement Santa, and he finds a potential replacement in an interviewee who runs his own goods delivery business in the first season of the series. But the power-hungry replacement Santa begins taking over and commercializing Christmas in the worst way.
It’s then that Santa sees the potential in his own son, Cal, to take on the role of Jolly Old St. Nick, but even Cal isn’t convinced that he’s the one for the job. The second season of the series sees Santa attempting to train Cal but with little obvious success. However, it’s evident throughout the season that Cal naturally possesses “Santa magic.”
The second season also introduces Magnus Antas, known as the “Mad Santa,” played by actor Eric Stonestreet, who played Cameron Tucker on ABC’s Modern Family.
In the 1400s, as the story goes, Magnus Antas had the role of Santa Claus, but he became a tyrannical leader, and the elves finally turned him into a nutcracker to stop his villainous reign. But when he is accidentally loosed from his nutcracker form, he discovers that there is a new Santa at the North Pole and vows to remove him and take back his rightful place as Santa.
A Photo Sets Everything in Motion
While Stonestreet is the perfect actor for the role, he says he wasn’t even looking for a job when he was offered the role.
Stonestreet’s friend, Jack Burditt, created the holiday series for Disney+, and Stonestreet says that he sent a photo of his fiancee’s 11-year-old boys watching The Santa Clauses to Burditt.
“I was saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got a couple of fans here in Kansas City, loving the show,” Stonestreet said about his message to Jack Burditt, who also worked with Stonestreet on Modern Family. “He wrote back saying, ‘If we get picked up for a second season, maybe you could come play.’ And that was kind of where we left it.”
As soon as Season two of The Santa Clauses got the green light from Disney, Burditt reached out to Stonestreet, just as he promised.
“He’s like, ‘Hear me out,’ and started explaining it,” Stonestreet says. “I’d always thought Santa would be something I’d get to play at some point.”
Eric Stonestreet Accidentally Lands a Role in “The Santa Clauses”
Stonestreet clarified his comment, saying that he wasn’t referring to the Magnus Antas version of Santa.
“[Burditt] said, ‘You’re this 14th century, you know, medieval Santa,’” Stonestreet explained. “I didn’t know at first, but then he started talking to me, and just the opportunity to put the suit on and kind of create some of the Santa lore for the show–it all just made too much sense. Going from my couch in Kansas City to the North Pole was quite a treat.”
At the time, Stonestreet had no idea he’d be playing a “mad” version of Santa. During his time as Santa, he became so tyrannical that his elves turned him into a nutcracker, and that nutcracker finds its way to a Christmas museum at Santapolis, a holiday theme park struggling to keep the doors open. When the owner of the museum, Kris Moreno, played by comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, accidentally breaks the nutcracker, the Mad Santa is finally free, and he’s not happy about what has transpired over the last several hundred years.
Mad Santa Isn’t a Bad Santa?
But Stonestreet argues that Magnus Antas isn’t bad; instead, Stonestreet says he’s simply misunderstood.
“Magnus Antas is only a bad guy because he was wronged in his mind,” he says. “He used to be great. He tells his gnomes that: ‘You said I was the best Santa ever. You said it.’ So, at some point, I was the great Santa that we all know and love, and then something changed in my heart and brought me over to the dark side. I started to change how Christmas was, and I was exiled into this nutcracker.”
No spoilers here, but Stonestreet says that his character enjoys a redemption arc over the course of Season 2 of The Santa Clauses.
“I still have the good heart of Santa Claus in me,” he says. “So, for me, it was fun to get the opportunity to play the duality of that.
“You know, I said from the beginning, I wanted my character to be someone, if a 7-year-old or 8-year-old saw at Disneyland, that they would reluctantly line up to meet,” Stonestreet says. “Meaning, they knew I was scary and intimidating, fun, funny, loveable.”
A Great Experience for Eric Stonestreet
Stonestreet had nothing but good things to say about his co-star, Tim Allen, on the set of The Santa Clauses.
“It was great working with him,” Stonestreet said of Allen. “He’s the OG, so I just loved sharing space and loved being a part of this world that he has created.”
The future of the holiday series is not completely clear yet. Though it seems likely that Disney will greenlight the series for a third season, there’s been nothing confirmed by Disney as of the time of this post.
All episodes of Season 1 and Season 2 of The Santa Clauses are now available to stream on Disney+.