Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian 'A Christmas Story' Bully Zack Ward on Making the Classic Film

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian 'A Christmas Story' Bully Zack Ward on Making the Classic Film

Article excerpt

Canadian 'Christmas Story' bully on making classic film


TORONTO - He's been called one of the greatest holiday-movie villains of all time for his portrayal of a raccoon-hat-wearing, brace-faced bully in the 1983 classic "A Christmas Story."

But Zack Ward says he was actually the opposite of his cruel character while growing up as a latchkey kid with a single mother in Toronto, where some of the film was shot.

"I went to eight different schools before junior high. I was a new kid with red hair named Zack, which was not a thing back then. I had no dad, didn't play hockey, was broke as hell, we were poor, and I had a miniature poodle named Tinker Bell," Ward, who now lives in Los Angeles, said during a recent stop in Toronto to visit family for the holidays.

"I got beat up a lot."

In fact, Ward wasn't originally cast as Scut Farkus, the evil redhead with the "yellow eyes" who terrorizes neighbourhood children in the wintry comedy directed and co-written by Bob Clark.

After a "cattle call" audition against hundreds of kids, Ward initially got the part of bully sidekick Grover Dill while Yano Anaya was cast as Scut.

But when they showed up on set, Clark realized 13-year-old Ward was about a foot taller than Anaya and he swapped their roles.

"That changed my life," said Ward, noting it was his very first feature film after a string of commercials.

"So I became Scut Farkus, the horrible, evil, awesome bully."

"A Christmas Story" stars Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, who longs for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. The story is set in the early 1940s and the wardrobe, including Scut's famous hat, was "very itchy," said Ward.

"The clothing was originally from the 1940s and it was made out of the angriest sheep in the world, because it was wool that just bit into you and tried to tear your skin off," he said. …

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