Actor and director Mel Gibson has nabbed the role of Santa Claus in dark action comedy Fatman. Gibson, whose most recent acting credits include crime thriller Dragged Across Concrete and comedy sequel Daddy’s Home 2, will join a whole host of fellow actors who have also played Father Christmas on the big screen, including Richard Attenborough (Miracle on 34th Street) and Tim Allen (The Santa Clause). Although by the sound of it, it’s possible Gibson’s version might be closer in tone to Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa.
Fatman features a script penned by brothers Ian and Eshom Nelms who will also direct the festive film. Their previous credits include drama Lost on Purpose, comedy Waffle Street and thriller Small Town Crime. Brandon James of Rough House Pictures, Nadine de Barros of Fortitude International and Lisa Wolofsky of Skywolf Media will produce while Rough House partners Danny McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green will executive produce. Fortitude will handle international sales rights and will introduce Fatman to buyers at next week’s Cannes Film Festival while CAA will handle US sales.
According to Deadline, Gibson will play a rowdy and unorthodox Santa Claus who is fighting against a decline in business and comes up against a neglected and precocious 12-year-old kid named Billy who has hired a hitman to kill Santa after receiving a lump of coal in his stocking. Filming of Fatman is scheduled to start in Canada in early 2020. Nadine de Barros of Fortitude said of the upcoming project:
“I am excited to be working with the incredibly talented Nelms brothers who have written a unique, highly entertaining script. Mel is the perfect choice as Chris Cringle like we’ve never seen him before. I couldn’t be more thrilled to watch this darkly comedic Christmas film come to life.”
The Santa Claus role comes on the tail of a flurry of activity in Gibson’s acting and directing career. He’s set to star in biographical drama The Professor and the Madman this month and has also nabbed roles alongside Sons of Anarchy actor Charlie Hunnam in forthcoming action thriller Waldo and alongside Colin Farrell in action film War Pigs, which is helmed by Norwegian Dead Snow director Tommy Wirkola. In the next few years, Gibson will write and direct a remake of classic western The Wild Bunch and he’ll team up with actor Jim Caviezel once again when he directs The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection - a sequel to his controversial 2004 biblical drama The Passion of the Christ.
Presumably the irony of starring in a film as Santa Claus while also preparing to make a film about our lord and saviour Jesus Christ isn’t lost on Gibson. There are no doubt many people who’ll find Gibson’s casting as a jolly and wholesome figure like Father Christmas quite strange too given his infamous racist, anti-Semitic rant from a few years ago. Actor Seth Rogen is one of those people and a recent tweet of his stating “Ho-ho-holocaust denier” suggests he doesn’t exactly approve of Gibson’s casting as Santa. See Rogen's tweet below.