November 2, 2002
‘Women don’t want to think Santa has to have a skinny wife’
BY MICHAEL JANUSONIS
Actress Elizabeth Mitchell pushed for making Mrs. Claus believable.
Elizabeth Mitchell is pleased to put on the pounds to play Mrs. Claus
In her varied screen career Elizabeth Mitchell has played Linda McCartney, a ’70s supermodel, Dr. Kim Legaspi in a popular recurring role on ER and now Mrs. Santa Claus in the heartwarming The Santa Clause 2, which opened yesterday.
Tall and slim, the Dallas-born Mitchell may not look like anyone’s idea of Mrs. Santa Claus. Actually, for much of the film she plays a demanding, straitlaced high school principal, her blonde hair pulled back in a bun, who has caught the eye of Tim Allen’s Scott Calvin. Scott, who signed on to be Santa eight years earlier, has left his Santa persona behind at the North Pole and is desperately looking for a wife to fulfill a clause in his Santa Claus contract. Otherwise, he will no longer be Santa.
It’s only in the film’s last moments that Mitchell’s Carol Newman is whisked to the North Pole to become Mrs. Claus to Allen’s Santa. She’s still slender at that point. And she would have remained so if she hadn’t petitioned director Michael Lembeck to let her become a little more ample by wearing a chubby suit and prosthetics to fill out her face.
“I wanted them to do it,” she says gleefully during a stop in Boston to promote the film.
Originally The Santa Clause 2 ended with Carol marrying Allen’s Santa and then having him ride off to deliver presents on Christmas Eve with a hearty “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.” It was an ending Allen liked. “I told Michael I was happy with ending it there and just moving on. In fact, I petitioned strongly to not go there, to let the audience imagine what happened to Mrs. Claus at the end,” Allen said.
But Lembeck listened to Mitchell. Now we see her during the end credits with a plump face and body in scenes that were filmed only weeks ago.
“I campaigned for it. I wanted it really badly,” Mitchell says. “You can’t have a magnificent, gorgeous, full-blooded Santa and have him next to a scawny wife. I really think that would be inappropriate.
No skinny wife “And I also believe the women of the world don’t want to think that even Santa has to have a skinny wife, even though all the men thought the women wouldn’t like to see a chubby Mrs. Claus. They thought the women would want her to stay thin. But I disagreed heartily and it turned out that a lot of women agreed with me when they saw the film.”
During the film, Allen’s character changes back from the wiry Scott Calvin into a plump Santa and a lot of people in the audience wondered why Mitchell’s Mrs. Claus didn’t have a similar transformation.
Mitchell happily says of the larger-sized Mrs. Claus, “She’s so cute! I can’t even tell you how much I loved this character when I looked in the mirror and I saw the whole thing done. She’s so adorable!
“I sent a little Polaroid to my sister and she phoned me and said, ‘Oh my God! You are so cute!’
“It’s the only time in your life that you can look at yourself without judgments because you’re wearing all the rosthetics.
And man, oh man, oh man, even my boyfriend said, ‘You should put on some weight. You look much better.’ “
Not a prima donna Clearly, Mitchell is not what you’d call a prima donna. In fact, she hates the term and can’t abide actors who put on airs.
“I can’t stand people who act that way when they’re in this profession, which is such a huge gift in that we get to do what we do and are treated magnificently. People know I won’t take it.”
So it’s not surprising that rather than taking credit for any great insight about the way her career has developed, she pegs it all to plain old luck.
“Lucky, lucky. I think my life is unplanned. The only thing that I knew I wanted to do was to act. You know how a lot of people say, ‘I’m going to do this and this and this and by this age I’m going to do this’?
Well, I had already achieved all of the stuff I thought I was going to achieve by the age of 25, so it was like, What’ll I do now? I was making my own money. I was working as an actor and only as an actor. And I was pleased. I think lucky. There are lots of talented people out there.
There are lots of attractive people. Whatever it is about me right at that moment seemed to be a good thing. So you never know.”
Projo.com – Journal Arts Writer