Chronicling Darby Camp as a True Believer

This year, the 12 Days of Christmas is getting a special TEENPLICITY twist – 12 Days of TEENPLICITY! From Saturday, December 12th through Wednesday, December 23rd, we will be posting a new holiday-themed feature each day! Including interviews with this season’s merriest entertainers as well as tips for the best holiday treats, we hope this celebration will bring some joy and good cheer to all during a very tough year.

As part of this special event, the 6th Teenpliciday features an exclusive interview with Darby Camp of Netflix’s holiday film series, The Christmas Chronicles. Darby shares what it has been like to return to the beloved holiday franchise, the changing dynamics within the second film, and working alongside well-known Hollywood actors, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn!

For Darby Camp, the idea that the Netflix original film The Christmas Chronicles has become an instant holiday classic is a little hard to believe.

The first film, which shattered expectations for the streaming giant and brought in 20 million viewers in the first week, also spawned the sequel which dropped on Netflix earlier this holiday season, The Christmas Chronicles 2.

“It feels crazy and surreal,” the actress starts when TEENPLICITY brings up the fact that the first film has become a staple of holiday traditions for families across the country, the second sure to join. “I never thought that I’d ever be in a Christmas classic. I was like, ‘Maybe I’d be in a Christmas movie one day,’ but I didn’t think it was going to be like this big or become a classic so fast.”

The thought leaves her speechless. It takes a moment for her to form the right words to express her gratitude and joy for the films that have cemented themselves in holiday history. “I’m just proud and honored,” Darby says. “This movie is just so special to me. I worked hard and I just feel really proud and I’m just really excited too.” Her giddiness takes over as even she admits, “I don’t have any words, I’m so happy.”

Coming back to the universe that made its mark on Christmas meant, for Darby, reuniting with some familiar faces. “Returning to the film was just crazy because I got to see a bunch of familiar faces in the Christmas Chronicles family again, but there were also some new cast and crew, which [it was] so great to meet them and for them to join the Christmas Chronicles family.” The actress can’t help but add, the excitement rising in her voice, “And it was just super cool to be back, and it was really fun.”

The second installment in the Christmas Chronicles universe not only expands the lore and mythology of Santa Claus, but it also expands the Pierce family.

The Christmas Chronicles 2 finds the Pierce family – Kate, Teddy [Judah Lewis], and Claire [Kimberly Williams-Paisley] – spending their Christmas at an incredible Mexican beach resort, something that only Kate seems to be against. Not only is she upset over having to spend her holiday on white sandy beaches instead of in her snow-covered neighborhood, but she’s also hesitant to embrace the inclusion of her mother’s new boyfriend Bob [Tyrese Gibson] and his son Jack [Jahzir Bruno].

I was reading the script and I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be so cool to film. It’s going to be great!’

Where the first film focused on the fractured sibling bond between Kate and Teddy – a bond which repairs itself over the course of one outrageous Christmas Eve night – this film focuses on Kate’s struggle with accepting her family moving on. With her plans to run back to Boston alone spoiled, and finding that Jack had been sneaking along with her, they realize that they have to work together to help Santa save Christmas.

“It’s kind of weird not having Judah there,” Darby admits at first when TEENPLICITY asked what it was like to switch dynamics in this film and, instead of playing off of Judah as her scene partner, transitioning to working alongside Jahzir. Although she wasn’t working with Judah as much as she did in the first one, she enjoyed getting to try out the new dynamic between Kate and Jack. “Jahzir Bruno is a wonderful kid and super great to work with,” she says of her co-star.

With Kate older in this film and fighting with the possibilities of her family growing, the actress acknowledges that her character takes up the angst that Teddy had in the original film. “You know, like a teenager and being selfish,” she explains further. “I think it was good for [Kate] to have a younger sibling, just like Teddy did, for her to figure things out. It was really cool.”

Photo Credit: Carlos Vaz

Darby dives deeper, continuing, “It was very hard for Kate to see her mom with another guy that wasn’t her dad. She’s kind of getting the feeling of her mom forgetting about her dad and moving on, and not even remembering him and not even loving him anymore. But really, Claire is just moving on.” Though her character struggles to see it at first, the actress points out, “It’s not that she doesn’t miss Doug or doesn’t love him anymore. I think that the whole family is moving on a lot faster than Kate is ready to move on. And I think throughout the movie, going to the North Pole and seeing Santa really helped her figure it out and help [her dad] be gone.”

A crucial way that Kate is finally able to accept that her father has passed is when she gets stuck in the 1990s with Santa.

Detained by an airport security officer for being an unaccompanied minor roaming around the airport, Kate meets another True Believer that’s her age and helps her see that what is important is the family she has now – that no matter where they are or what they’re doing, all that matters is that they’re together. It’s not until she is about to leave that Kate finds out her true connection to this boy and is finally given closure.

*SPOILERS*

“I thought it was brilliant, like that idea was just so brilliant,” Darby says of the moment between Kate and her father as a boy. “I was reading the script and I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be so cool to film. It’s going to be great!’” The actress also can’t help but gush about how she loves the ‘90s so much. “I was really excited to film in the ‘90s,” she adds as an aside.

“It was definitely really good for Kate to have that closure and meet her dad,” she says as she thinks again on that monumental scene. “Just the realizing of her finding out it’s her dad at the end of the scene was just really incredible and special.”

*END SPOILERS*

Kate didn’t only travel to the 1990s – she also made her way to the North Pole.

I think that the whole family is moving on a lot faster than Kate is ready to move on.

With every iteration of a holiday film featuring Santa Claus, there is some interpretation of the North Pole and Santa’s Village. For The Christmas Chronicles 2, the set took it to another level.

A whole village was erected to depict Santa’s workshops where the elves work on gifts, the stables where the reindeer stay, and the special place where the magic is kept that keeps the North Pole secret.

“It was so crazy,” Darby excitedly recalls of walking onto the North Pole set. She describes how the snow was real and it was cold, the memories of filming taking hold of her. “It was so crazy to be there because you really feel like you’re in the North Pole and you really get that sense of magic. It’s literally huge and it’s just made even better that I was there with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.” She laughs to herself before adding, “It was really incredible and just super fun to film there.”

The Mr. and Mrs. Claus she’s referring to is Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, the iconic duo who have been together for decades and who took up the jolly holiday titles in the first film. Though she only had a cameo at the end of the initial entry, the second installment of the Christmas Chronicles universe has given Goldie Hawn a much bigger story to explore.

“Working with Ms. Goldie… she is just perfect for Mrs. Claus, 100 percent,” Darby declares, the laughter in her voice not detracting from the seriousness of her statement. “I’m so glad that they cast her. It makes sense too because Mr. Kurt and Goldie are together in real life and they just,” the actress pauses, happily searching for the best way to describe the duo’s incredible acting talents on set. “Working together, they’re like the dream team and they light up the room everywhere they go. They’re just such great actors, and you can tell even off-camera and on-camera, they’re so in love with each other, which really, really made it even more special. It was just super cool to work with them.”

As great as Kurt Russell is as Santa Claus, one can’t help but wonder if the two films are setting up the possibility of Kate eventually taking over. Not only is she a true believer, but she can also speak Elvish and the ending of The Christmas Chronicles 2 seems to indicate that she has a similar spark in her eye that Santa has.

While Darby hadn’t heard of any theories like that before speaking with TEENPLICITY, she is fully on-board with the idea. “I would love to do that!” she exclaims. Though she does mention that while she’s hopeful, they haven’t heard any news on a third film yet, so audiences will just have to wait and see what does happen to Kate and Santa in the future.

On the topic of a third film, it had to be asked what Darby would love to see happen. “I would want to see Rudolph, if I’m going to be honest,” she says right away. “And I would love to drive the sleigh!” One can only imagine her amused frustration as she recalls, “See, in the first one, Judah got to drive the sleigh, but I didn’t get to drive it. Then Jahzir got to drive it in the second one but I still haven’t gotten to drive the sleigh! I think it’d be super cool if I got to drive it one day.” Her laughter breaks through her voice as she adds, “But you know, that’s just what I would want.”

In our opinion, that’s a strong enough case for needing a third film.

Working together, they’re like the dream team and they light up the room everywhere they go.

Until then, audiences can rewatch both films and see if, while watching The Christmas Chronicles 2, they catch any references to Home Alone which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. (This could just be TEENPLICITY projecting but the blonde woman in the airport reminds us of Kevin’s mom [Catherine O’Hara] and the way Belsnickel [Julian Dennison] puts out a fire feels very much like the way Harry [Joe Pesci] does in the 1990 classic.)

Darby recalls them joking, “It’d be so cool if when I was running through the airport, that Kevin’s mom from Home Alone would be [there and] we bump into each other while running through the airport.” She laughs before also remembering, “I think they did try to get Marv [Daniel Stern] from the first Home Alone, [have him do] a little cameo in it but he couldn’t do it.”

It becomes a very cool ‘What if?’ moment to think about, especially when finding out that Home Alone makes the list of Darby’s favorite holiday films, alongside Elf and her absolute favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas – the Jim Carrey version, of course.

Photo Credit: Carlos Vaz

If given the chance to have starred in any other holiday film, it’s a no-brainer that Darby picks How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “That was my favorite movie of all time. Even when I was five, I would watch it all year.” She would have loved to have taken up the character of Cindy Lou Who. “I’m around that age and she gets to actually do scenes with the Grinch,” the actress explains.

Darby’s other holiday memories, aside from watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, include the rest of her family and a few surprises along the way. Taking a moment to pick just one favorite memory she says, “Probably when my nana got us tickets to Disney World one year. It was really fun!” The occasion for the tickets was for her cousin graduating high school but everyone got to join in on the fun, even her nana. “She rode the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster!”

However, one person couldn’t get on the ride. “I was too short so I couldn’t go on it and then I cried,” Darby shares, her voice sad before a laugh breaks through. “But I was like five and they gave me a voucher!” she says, her mother adding that the voucher said she can go on the ride when she’s tall enough. “I better be tall enough!” Darby can’t help but joke, bringing out laughs all around.

While it’s hard to think of a Christmas that would top that one, Darby still cherishes her holiday traditions the most. “What I do every year is on Christmas Eve, we get to open a few presents early and we have my grandparents and cousins come over and we have a steak dinner. Then Christmas Day, we’ll go to my cousin’s house and then open some presents there.”

Her favorite moments are the ones with her family around her, spending the holidays together. “They just have a blast. I do see [my family] a lot but it’s just even more special to see them during Christmas,” she says.

While she hopes she will get to see them in some way this holiday, even if it has to be virtually, she is still able to embrace her local traditions. “Where I live in a small town, they have decorative trees and there’s fun activities to do around town. It is obviously different this year, but I still have fun with my friends there.”

The Christmas Chronicles and The Christmas Chronicles 2 are both available to stream NOW on Netflix!

For all things Darby Camp, be sure to follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

25. Television and radio production graduate. || I think some people underestimate the range and variety of things that interest younger generations. I'm determined not to.

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