Peter Billingsley, the star of the Christmas story, revealed why he felt really sick on set. The 1983 holiday classic is a worldwide television commercial that you should see after Thanksgiving. Ralphie van Billingsley is one of the most famous Christmas figures in history and he would like a Red Ryder air rifle from Santa Claus. He is constantly warned that the air rifle is too dangerous and that he would shoot himself in the eye.
In a certain scene in Peter Billingsley’s Christmas story of Ralphie, he dreams of protecting his family with a new air rifle. In the dream sequence, Ralphie is the sheriff who has to save his family from Black Bart. It turned out that one of the team members thought the scene should be a bit more realistic, so he helped Billingsley, who was only 12 years old at the time. Billingsley said it in an interview on set.
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Well, they have ….. totally screwed up. In the scene, he’s dressed like a sheriff. So I’m putting on the suit. And the script says he chews tobacco. Of course, the props person responsible for chewing the tobacco comes to me with a bag that says Red Man. I don’t know the difference, I said: What do you want me to do? He says: Here, slide it over here. Don’t swallow, just spit. So I do this, we get ready, and after about 15 minutes, the world starts to turn upside down. I’m starting to sweat. My stomach starts to hurt and I feel nauseous. Bob (Clark), like, cut. What’s going on here? There was a propeller: Oh, I gave him Red Man, you know. Said Bob: What are you doing? He’s 12 years old!
It must have been hard for 12-year-old Peter Billingsley to get tobacco in his head. At least he didn’t have to keep it in his mouth too long. So we close up and I lie on the couch in the lounge for about 40 minutes until I get rid of the shit, the actor remembers. Luckily, Billingsley was ready to lie down…
What they ended up using was very different from real chewing tobacco. Then they did what they should have done before, someone took a bunch of raisins, crushed them and put them in my mouth so I would have brown saliva, says Peter Billingsley. You can imagine it was a very different time back then. He let me in like this, all red with the sheets cut up. It is not clear why they did not go for raisins in the first place, but the beginning of the eighties was a different time.
The Christmas story will certainly be interpreted differently this year by those who know the Peter Billingsley backstage. The film will probably be shown on television and streaming platforms at Christmas. So there should be more than one chance to see Ralphie movie Black Bart again. You can watch Peter Billingsley’s interview in this scene podcast with Dan Patrick. Below you see Ralphie opposite Black Bart.
Topics: A Christmas story
Screenwriter for Movieweb since 2017. He likes to play katana when he’s not writing about superheroes and Star Wars.