The cast of Bad Santa 2 spoke about reviving the franchise on the red carpet Tuesday at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square for the New York premiere of the film.
"[Billy Bob Thornton] has this amazing way to create this real derelict of a character but make him lovable," Kathy Bates, who plays Thornton's character Willy's estranged mother in the Bad Santa sequel, told The Hollywood Reporter. "I think in each of us we probably wish we could escape the whole family, buying gifts, rushing around - you just want to pull your hair out. So [his character] is a wonderful way to escape."
In Bad Santa 2, Willy is drawn to Chicago by his comrade in crime Marcus [Tony Cox] and the prospect of a major payday. Christina Hendricks plays his love interest, while Brett Kelly returns as Thurman "The Kid" Merman, giving Willy and the film its holiday heart.
"At the end of the day, even the lowliest drunk needs love and needs to have a little hope," said Thornton.
Director Mark Waters called Willy an old-school gangster who appeals to every demographic with his unapologetic honesty. "What if we took all of the elements that you love about these characters and deliver something that was a little bigger in scope?" he told THR.
For Cox, reviving these characters more than a decade later means answering fans who have been clamoring for a sequel at just the right time.
"It just means giving the people something that they want," he said. "Everybody's been asking for this movie, wherever I go, 'Tony Cox, when are you guys gonna do another Bad Santa?' And sometimes, 13 years [later], the wait is better."
Bad Santa 2 is set to open Nov. 23.
Read more: 'Bad Santa 2': Film Review