How did Santa Claus get to be, well…Santa Claus? And what if he wasn’t the selfless and jolly magical figure we thought he was? That’s the idea behind The Santa Clause, the 1994 comedy film starring Tim Allen. Directed with childlike wonder by John Pasquin with a genuinely humorous and touching screenplay by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, the film revolves around businessman Scott Calvin (Allen) who causes the real Santa to slip and fall from his roof. What he doesn’t realize is that by putting on the jolly man’s red coat, he has committed to take over the role of Santa — and it’s harder than it seems.
It’s a simple concept, but one that the film does successfully, with memorable characters, a fully committed cast, and a grounded-yet-magical mythology. Audiences seemed to agree, with the film earning over $144 million against a $22 million budget in addition to yielding two sequels, The Santa Clause 2 in 2002 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause in 2006. Despite diminishing financial returns, both follow-ups maintain the sense of wonder and whimsical fun established by the first film while continuing the story of Scott and his Santa “clauses” in new and (mostly) innovative ways.
Whether you’re sipping hot cocoa while marathoning the trilogy from your couch or just looking for a refresher on the familiar faces in the North Pole and beyond, here’s a handy guide to who’s who in the trilogy, from Santa to Jack Frost and everyone in between.
Scott Calvin / Santa Claus / Toy Santa (Tim Allen)
Scott Calvin is a businessman and Charlie’s father. His life changes forever when he causes the real Santa Claus to take a fatal tumble from his roof on Christmas Eve. By putting on his red coat, Scott unknowingly takes on the role of Santa. Despite his horror, Scott eventually warms up to the importance and honor of having the job of Santa. He faces new challenges and obstacles in the latter films, including having to find a Mrs. Claus and Jack Frost’s malicious efforts to usurp him as Santa.
Prior to suiting up as Santa, Tim Allen was known for his stand-up comedy routines in addition to starring as Tim “The Toolman” Taylor on Home Improvement. He also voiced Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story franchise, Eliot Arnold in Big Trouble, and Luther Krank in Christmas with the Kranks.
Now, Allen recently wrapped up 9 seasons playing Mike Baxter on Last Man Standing and can be found co-hosting the competition series Assembly Required with his Home Improvement co-star, Richard Karn.
Charlie Calvin (Eric Lloyd)
Charlie is Scott and Laura’s young son who loves Christmas and is not shy about telling everyone he meets that his dad has taken on the role of Santa. He has a strong belief in the spirit of the season and helps his dad understand Santa’s importance. Charlie appears in The Santa Clause 2 as well as The Santa Clause 3, where he has grown from a sweet, innocent kid into a sullen and angry teenager who resents that his dad is never around. He takes out his frustrations by vandalizing his high school, which lands him on Santa’s Naughty List. Despite his frustrations and jealousies, he once again finds the true spirit of Christmas through his interactions with Lucy (Liliana Mumy) and Principal Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell).
Prior to his time as Santa’s son, Eric Lloyd appeared on sitcoms such as The Wonder Years, Laurie, and Love & War. He also played a young Bruce Wayne in Batman & Robin in addition to Blanky in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars.
Following the Santa Clause franchise, Lloyd appeared in the 2012 miniseries True Perfection before taking a break from acting to co-found LP Studios, a production and post-production music and film space.
Laura Miller (Wendy Crewson)
Laura is Scott’s ex-wife and Neal’s wife. Along with Neal, she is alarmed when she believes that Scott is trying to persuade Charlie that his father is really Santa Claus. Despite Scott’s claims against it, his changing weight, beard growth, and ravenous sweet tooth lead Laura to think that Scott has gone off the deep end of delusion. Laura’s doubts are washed away, however, when Scott convinces her that he really is Santa, gifting her with the childhood game she’d always wanted: Mystery Date. Laura appears in both of the film’s sequels, along with Neal and their daughter Lucy.
Prior to The Santa Clause, Wendy Crewson starred in the film The Good Son before moving on to other film projects such as What Lies Beneath, Bicentennial Man, and Eight Below.
More recently, she can be seen in Room, the 2018 remake of Death Wish, in addition to playing roles like Harriet Griswold in On the Basis of Sex, Dr. Dana Kinney in the medical drama Saving Hope, Valeska Nox in Titans, and Vivian Katz the upcoming medical series Good Sam (2022).
Neal Miller (Judge Reinhold)
Neal is Laura’s husband and Charlie’s stepfather. He is a psychiatrist who tends to believe only in what he can see. He stopped believing in Santa at a young age and thinks it’s unhealthy for Charlie to continue believing himself. He’s even more horrified when he believes that Scott is deliberately changing his appearance to play into the idea that he’s Santa. After believing that Scott is suffering a mental break, Scott eventually manages to convince Neal that he really is Santa Claus, bolstering his belief by giving him the one gift Neal always wanted as a child but never received: an Oscar Mayer Weenie Whistle. Neal appears in both of the film’s sequels.
Judge Reinhold appeared in memorable roles such as Brad Hamilton in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Gerald Hopkins in Gremlins, and Detective William “Billy” Rosewood in the Bevery Hills Cop series.
Reinhold also appeared in series like The King of Queens and Monk, in addition to films like 2008’s Swing Vote and 2017’s Bad Grandmas. Now, Reinhold seems to have taken a break from acting, with his most recent acting credit being 2017’s Four Christmases and a Wedding.
Head Elf Bernard (David Krumholtz)
Bernard is the Head Elf at the North Pole in The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2. He is the one who first explains the “Santa Clause” to Scott — the idea that, by putting on Santa’s suit, he willingly accepts the role and responsibilities of Santa. Initially chilly towards Scott, he eventually warms up to him and becomes a quite loyal supporter and confidant who takes a special shine to Charlie. He does not appear in the third film.
In addition to his role as Bernard, David Krumholtz appeared in films such as Addams Family Values, Ray, and the Harold and Kumar franchise. Later, he continued to appear in mainstream films like This Is the End, The Judge, and Sausage Party, in addition to playing the main role of Charlie Eppes in all 6 seasons of Numb3rs.
Now, he can be seen in recent series such as The Good Wife and The Deuce, in addition to Billions, The Plot Against America, and Jordan Peele‘s reboot of The Twilight Zone.
Judy the Elf (Paige Tamada)
Judy is the 1,200-year-old elf who greets Scott when he first arrives at the North Pole. She has a helpful personality and takes great delight and pride in providing necessities to Santa, whether it be food, monogrammed pajamas, or round after round of steaming hot cocoa. She is incredibly patient with Scott’s initial refusal to believe that he is truly at the North Pole, and shares with him the important quote: “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.”
A former child actress, Paige Tamada has left acting behind in favor of other pursuits. Prior to leaving acting, she appeared in series such as Full House, Home Improvement, Seinfeld, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Her last acting credit was a 1999 episode of the television series Ally McBeal.
Principal Carol Newman / Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Mitchell)
Carol Newman is Charlie’s high school principal in The Santa Clause 2. Her dealings with misbehaving teenagers (including Charlie) force her to display a chilly and authoritative exterior, though she has an incredibly warm heart. Despite her students’ poor decisions, she believes in them and wants them to live up to their full potential. After a traumatizing childhood Christmas, Carol once again finds solace and wonder in the holiday season when she begins dating Scott (much to Charlie’s horror). She eventually becomes Mrs. Claus and teaches at a North Pole elf school in addition to helping Scott with his duties as Santa.
Before her days as Mrs. Claus, Elizabeth Mitchell appeared in television series such as ER and Boston Legal. Following the Santa Clause series, Mitchell starred in The Purge: Election Year in addition to playing recurring characters on series like Lost, V, Once Upon a Time, and Dead of Summer.
Most recently, she can be seen as Carla Limbrey in Outer Banks as well as the upcoming coming-of-age drama film When Time Got Louder (TBA).
Curtis the Elf (Spencer Breslin)
Curtis is an elf first introduced in The Santa Clause 2. While he has a playful attitude and a good sense of humor, he takes his job as an elf very seriously and remains incredibly loyal to Santa. As the keeper of the “Handbook of Christmas,” he is the one to first inform Scott of the “Mrs. Clause,” the condition that he must find a wife before Christmas Eve or risk losing his role as Santa. Curtis also appears in The Santa Clause 3 where he is promoted to Head Elf, despite inadvertently revealing the details of the “Escape Clause” to Jack Frost (Martin Short).
Before stepping into Curtis’ shoes, Spencer Breslin appeared in films such as The Kid, Meet the Parents, and The Cat in the Hat. He also starred in M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Happening. His most recent acting credit is the 2015 film Some Kind of Hate. He has since founded his own record label and writes songs for (and plays in) his band.
Lucy Miller (Liliana Mumy)
Lucy is the daughter of Laura and Neal, and Scott’s stepdaughter. Appearing in both The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Lucy is an innocent six-year-old who passionately believes in Santa and the magic of Christmas. She notices that her Uncle Scott bears a striking resemblance to Santa Claus and remains convinced that he is the real Santa. Lucy has no filter with her opinions and is wise beyond her years, often imparting advice or wisdom onto Charlie or her Uncle Scott.
Liliana Mumy appeared in television shows such as Scrubs and That ’70s Show prior to her role as Lucy. She went on to portray characters in films like Cheaper by the Dozen, Snow Buddies, and Batman: Year One. More recently, she can be seen in series like Fresh Off the Boat and The Loud House.
Jack Frost (Martin Short)
Jack Frost is the main antagonist in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. He is envious, scheming, and always looking to push his own hidden agenda. While Santa, the Easter Bunny, and even Cupid have holidays honoring them, Frost feels slighted that he doesn’t have a specific holiday to call his own. His jealousy builds to villainy when he attempts to trick Scott into unknowingly relinquishing his role as Santa.
In addition to his comedy specials, Martin Short has appeared in films such as The Three Amigos and Father of the Bride, plus television series like Saturday Night Live and The Martin Short Show. He has also starred in recent films such as Frankenweenie, Inherent Vice, and The Addams Family.
Most recently, Short can be seen in series like The Morning Show and Only Murders in the Building, in addition to the upcoming film Back Home Again.
Bud Newman (Alan Arkin)
Bud is Carol’s dad who first makes an appearance in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. Along with his wife, Sylvia (Ann-Margret Olsson), he comes to the North Pole to visit his daughter. In an effort to conceal that Scott is really Santa Claus and that Bud and Sylvia are truly at the North Pole, Scott, Carol, and the elves transform the Pole into “Canada.” Bud quickly buys into the charade and shows a humorous fondness for Mother Nature (Aisha Tyler).
Alan Arkin is an Academy Award-nominated actor who, prior to his role as Bud Newman, was best known for film roles such as Roat in Wait Until Dark, Bill Boggs in Edward Scissorhands, and Edwin Hoover in Little Miss Sunshine. He later appeared in films such as Get Smart, Marley & Me, and Argo where he played Lester Siegel.
Most recently, Arkin can be seen in films like Love the Coopers, Going in Style, and as Norman Newlander in the series The Kominsky Method, in addition to a role in the upcoming Despicable Me spin-off, Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022).
Sylvia Newman (Ann-Margret Olsson)
Sylvia is Carol’s mom. She wishes that she saw her daugher more often since Carol moved to “Canada,” but is happy to visit and spend time with her, Scott, and their family. Hilarity ensues when she attracts the attention — and affection — of Jack Frost due to her singing voice.
Ann-Magret Olsson is a Golden Globe-, Acadamy Award-, and Emmy-nominated actress and singer. She starred alongside Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas and played memorable roles such as Dallas in Stagecoach, Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Ariel Truax in Grumpy Old Men.
Following the Santa Clause franchise, Olsson appeared as Martha in Old Dogs, Annie in Going in Style, and Margot in Queen Bees. Most recently, she can be seen in recurring guest-starring roles in series like Ray Donovan and The Kominksy Method.
Rounding out the cast in recurring supporting roles are Kevin Pollak as Cupid, Art LaFleur as Tooth Fairy, Jay Thomas as Easter Bunny, Michael Dorn as Sandman, Aisha Tyler as Mother Nature, and Peter Boyle as Father Time (and Mr. Whittle in The Santa Clause).