Around this time of year, families gather around the TV to watch holiday classics from White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life to Elf. One such classic was prominently made in the Toronto area: A Christmas Story. Although Toronto and area subbed in for an American city (as is the norm), we’re happy to take credit for this memorable holiday flick. Most of the principal actors are American, but one crucial character—the despicable Scut Farkus—is a hometown kid.
The story revolves around the bespectacled youngster Ralphie and his quest for the ultimate Christmas present: a Red Ryder BB rifle. But, he has a few hiccups along the way, including a memorable run-in with the local bully, Scut, (see video below) who torments the youngster until Ralphie snaps and lays a whooping on him.
Scut is played by Toronto actor Zack Ward, in his first film role. Ward, a graduate of Northern Secondary School, went on to roles in a steady stream of film and TV projects, including recent guest spots on Hawaii Five-0 and CSI: Miami.
But, as a testament to the immense popularity of A Christmas Story, Ward is still best known for his performance as Scut. His celebrity has been put to good use recently, with an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to make a free app called Fark-O-Vision that will in turn raise funds for bully prevention programs.
We tracked down Ward in Los Angeles to ask him about the lasting impact Scut has had on his life.
Was Scut your first film role?
Yes, Scut Farkus was my first movie role. I had done a bunch of commercials before that, but that was my first venture into Film. Like most young actors I got the audition as a Cattle-call against 300 other kids in Toronto then it went down to 200, 150, 50,10 people and then finally I got the job!
What impact did the role have on your career—good or bad?
The impact on my career has always been good. It has become the calling card or touchstone, and is how people relate to me; seeing me through the eyes of their Christmas experiences which are usually very happy. It's as if I have been adopted into hundreds and thousands of families of people I've never met. It's quite an honor.
Do you still get recognized for portraying Scut?
All the time. But pretty much three to five times a day around the holidays.
Have you participated in any reunions, things like that, or generally do you keep up with any of the cast?
We are in the midst of the 30th anniversary right now. However I have stayed good friends with all of the cast. Knowing someone for 30 years and sharing this experience with them makes the relationship very meaningful and rare.
Tell me about your anti-bullying project on Indiegogo and what you hope to accomplish?
I thought to use Scut Farkus as a lightning rod for conversation as there is so much interest in ACS around this time of year, especially for the 30th anniversary, and none of that interest generates positive opportunities for those that really need help. My goal is simple: raise money for programs in under-financed schools and communities that would help children believe in themselves. When kids have support, love and mentorship with ideas of integrity, team building and humility, they become unstoppable and filled with joy. Happy people don't bully others, they help them. Get them believing in themselves when they're young and they'll grow up to change the world.
And you went to Northern Secondary in Toronto?
I did! And we shot Resident Evil: Apocalypse there, which I thought was hilarious irony. When I get killed by zombie dogs, it's in my old cafeteria. How's that for full circle? I've never been invited to a class reunion though.
Where can we see you next?
Check zackward.me for links. The movie Last Stop starring Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green and myself, which I produced. I'm directing/writing/starring a film next year called #1 Zombie Killer. I just had an episode of Mike and Molly play. Always a fan of comedy.