Billy Bob Thornton took a method style approach to his 2003 holiday classic Bad Santa.
The actor, 64, opened up about the making of the film during a sit-down interview on Entertainment Weekly‘s Couch Surfing. Thornton played Willie T. Stokes who reunites with his friend every year for a holiday con.
Posing as a Santa Claus at a mall, Stokes arrives drunk during a photocall with children looking to tell Santa about their Christmas lists. Thornton admitted he “was drunk” during the scene as a way to get into character.
“It’s so obvious. I drank about three glasses of red wine for breakfast. That was just an appetizer,” he said. “Then I switched over to vodka and cranberry juice and then I had a few Bud Lights.”
He continued, “By the time I got to that scene there I barely knew I was in a movie.”
“The fact of the matter is I was supposed to be standing on the escalator. It dumps me out and it literally woke me up and that’s what’s in the movie,” Thornton explained. “And I get up, standing around because I thought I woke up in my house. And then I remembered what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to go there and fall down in all those gifts and be horrible in front of the kids.”
“At least it wasn’t a monologue,” he added.
The movie also starred Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kelly, Bernie Mac and John Ritter.
It was Ritter’s final film appearance before his death in September 2003; the movie was dedicated to his memory.
Bad Santa was a box office success, earning $76.5 million at the box office against a $23 million budget.