Scott Schwartz is known best for playing the role of Flick in the timeless holiday classic “A Christmas Story”. Scott also starred alongside Richard Pryor in “The Toy”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Scott about his experience on “A Christmas Story” and revisiting it every holiday season.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your experience working with Richard Pryor in the film “The Toy”?
Scott Schwartz: Richard made the experience ten times more fun than what normal movie making was. He was very gracious and kind and he would let me go to him for advice and to ask questions. Whatever I needed I could always go to him. He was an amazing person and outside of my family Richard was probably one of the most influential people I have ever had in my life.
MG: What is your most memorable experience working on “A Christmas Story”?
SS: I don’t know if there is any one particular moment that stands out other than being out in the cold for the infamous tongue on the flag pole scene. It was about 25 degrees below zero with the wind chill and I was out there for that shoot over the course of a few days. It was great forming relationships with Peter Billingsley, Bob Clark and everyone else on the set. Every movie and experience is different but I had fun shooting in Cleveland and Canada. For kids movie making should not be a job. My Dad would tell me you are making a movie but enjoy yourself. Richard Prior told me the same thing so that’s what I have always done.
MG: How was it working with Bob Clark?
SS: Bob and I got along from the first time I met him during my audition for the film. He didn’t even have me read any lines. Him and I just sat down and shot the bull. He wanted to see if I was a decent guy and if I could carry on a conversation. He told me to do whatever felt right and that if I did something he didn’t like he would let me know. When I did the first take of the tongue on the flag pole scene I was kind of conservative. He told me that I had to bring it up so I did and then it was too much so we brought it down a little and it was great. I had a very easy time working with Bob.
MG: Did you get to keep any props or memorabilia from the shoot?
SS: No I have nothing from “A Christmas Story” at all! From “The Toy” they sent me a bunch of stuff like shirts, a jacket as well as the spider man pajamas and military uniform. I think you have to have at least one or two things from every movie you do because it’s yours and down the line it becomes your kids and its now something that Dad used or wore.
MG: This film is such a classic amongst many generations and new fans discover it every year, how can you reflect on that?
SS: That’s an interesting question. That movie was made to not be a generational movie. Yes it was made in the 1980’s however, in terms of a generation that really enjoys the film it’s more those from the 1950’s that enjoy it due to the film being a time piece film set in the mid-west . Most good movies are relationship films. You can say “A Christmas Story” is about a kid wanting a BB gun but when it comes down to it it’s really the father and son relationship between Darren McGavin and Peter Billingsley. At the end of the film when he gives Peter the BB gun you can see the pride in the fathers face because he gave his child the ultimate gift.
MG: Tell us about the development and your involvement with “The Untold Christmas Story”?
SS: We did that so we could have something of ours so that we would never forget this stuff. It’s about five friendships that have developed over the years as well as the back story to the shooting of the film as well as the following that the film has. It really is a multi generational film. Mom and dad grew up in the 40’s-50’s and know about the era Grandma and Grandpa also knew about that generation. Our generation didn’t know what it was like having to go to the radio and listen to our favorite show so the moms and the dads bring this film to us and as we have kids we bring the film to them. It’s a wonderful family movie about relationships and the holiday known as Christmas.
MG: How do you feel when you return to Cleveland each year for the conventions?
SS: I am thrilled that Cleveland is not the same city as it was when we shot the film there 20 or so years ago. Higbee’s square at the time of shooting was very run down and most of the stores were closed and boarded up. To go there now and see stores in places that used to be all boarded up and to see the city is a different light is really nice. Cleveland now has the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and “A Christmas Story” house.