A Christmas Story is a beloved holiday tradition for many Canadiana. It’s a great story with compelling characters but it’s also because it was filmed in Toronto and stars a slew of local actors including Zack Ward who plays bully Scut Farkus in the original as well as a just-released second instalment.
Ward, who left the city for the bright lights of Los Angeles many years ago, still gets recognized for his portrayal of the ginger bully Scut Farkus to this day. Although there has been a number of attempts to revisit A Christmas Story over the years, this new version was a keeper and Ward signed on along with most of the original cast.
“With this version, they brought on Nick Schenk, who wrote Gran Torino and The Mule for Clint Eastwood. And Nick brought a very distinct, gritty Americana feel to it, that had a similar texture to Jean Shepherd’s original work, but he’s really able to capture that,” Ward says. “So that was really the launching pad for everything coming together.”
The new version sees the return to the yuletime screen of the whole gang including Ralphie, the lead character of the original, now an adult as he returns to the family home on Cleveland Street following his father’s death to reconnect with old friends and give his own kids a special family Christmas. Scut Farkus is there, and now he’s a cop.
In the original film, which dates back to 1983, young Ralphie, who dreams of getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, and his friends are terrorized by neighbourhood bully Scut Farkus while Ralphie’s father is challenged to create an ideal family Christmas at home. The movie has a few pretty iconic scenes including Ralphie punching Scut in the nose at long last, and fellow youth Flick getting his tongue stuck to a metal pole on a dare. Classic.
Scut was such a compelling little cretin, that Ward still wears a baseball cap pulled down low to keep from getting recognized even though he’s now 53. FYI: It doesn’t always work.
“It’s strange, man. I’m 53 years old, I wear glasses, and I wear a baseball hat when I’m out,” Ward says. “I was out the other night basically at a restaurant-slash-game place, you know, where adults go to play video games and stuff like that. And we’re just over at a high table having a conversation. And people come over from 20 feet away who had recognized me as Scut Farkus, and wanted a photo. I’ve got a coat on, glasses on, and I’ve got stubble. And honestly, I’m like, really? That’s impressive. I wouldn’t recognize me. But yes, it still happens. Apparently, my very punchable face from childhood has not changed.”
Ward was born in Toronto and his mother is actor Pam Hyatt. He has appeared in dozens of movies including a role in an upcoming action movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme but is most excited about a film he is directing, which is, not surprisingly, a homage to 80’s cult-classics like Goonies and Big Trouble in Little China. Patsy Lee & The Keepers of the 5 Kingdoms stars James Hong and Michelle Mao.
Ward is also making an appearance at the original A Christmas Story house, which is located in Ohio, for an Alzheimer’s Association fundraiser.
Looking for a new addition to the Christmas movie lineup? How about a back-to-back A Christmas Story marathon?