Forget James Bond, I Want To Know Who'll Play The Next Santa Claus

Every now and then, a piece of casting news coming out of Hollywood will serve as a clear reminder that a lot of people are very protective of legacy characters.

This term refers to a character that's endured for long enough in our pop culture lexicon that multiple actors have convincingly played them in tons of adaptations over the years. Sherlock Holmes and James Bond are popular examples, but this term also tends to include comic book characters like Spider-Man, Batman, or the Joker.

And while comic fans are perhaps the most passionate debaters about who did their favorite characters justice — just ask your friends who played the Joker the best and watch the sparks fly — we also can't ignore how fervently people are wondering who will be next in line to fill James Bond's impeccable tuxedo.

But in this rush for a new secret agent, it seems that people have forgotten about one big pop cultural institution who's outlived them all and has made our childhoods magical before any of the others.

That's right, I'm talking about Santa Claus.

Some may wonder why I'm worrying about casting the next Santa Claus when we don't seem to be having much trouble finding them right now.

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After all, Tim Allen transformed Scott Calvin into Santa 27 years and three movies ago, while Kurt Russell has done his own part to fill Santa's big boots through Netflix's Christmas Chronicles movies.

And sure, there's nothing stopping either of them from reprising those roles. But it's not like some fans haven't been clamoring to see how holly jolly some other veteran actors could be in the iconic role.

Besides, the case of James Bond should tell us that there often comes a time when our go-to guy just doesn't want to do it anymore.

So it never hurts to start considering some alternatives, especially when some prime candidates are right in front of us.

For instance, take The Dude himself: Jeff Bridges.

Not only is it very easy to see him throwing himself into the role and having a great time, but he doesn't exactly need a fake beard to look the part. At worst, his turn as Santa might be a little mumbly but that's a small price to pay for holiday joy.

And he wouldn't even be the first Bridges to play Santa as his dad Lloyd filled the role in the 1991 TV movie In The Nick Of Time.

But while Bridges would undoubtedly be a popular choice for Santa, you're just as likely to find people calling for Sam Elliott to take his magical sleigh's reins.

He may not make for the most rotund Santa we've ever seen, but you'll often see him sporting the perfect facial hair.

And his buttery voice and the rugged dignity he's shown while playing a cowboy or a rancher could translate pretty well to a quieter but no less warm take on Kris Kringle.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention another actor that people have wanted to see play Santa for years: Morgan Freeman.

And in case you're wondering, the scene you're looking at here doesn't count because he's just playing a character who briefly dressed as Santa for this moment.

Still, it gives us a good look at how Freeman fills the suit and once again, who isn't looking for another excuse to hear his incredibly satisfying voice?

Furthermore, if Bruce Almighty had taught us anything, it's that Freeman has quite a knack for playing mysterious yet playful otherworldly beings.

Those are all great choices that should inspire some healthy debate, but If you'll indulge me, I'm going to suggest something of a dark horse in this race.

Yes, I'm implying that someone should let Billy Bob Thornton transcend playing a criminal who just pretends to be Santa at the mall and actually put on the suit for real.

And while he could surprise me, I'm basing my nomination on his usual acting style, which means his turn as Santa will likely be more surly and jaded than holly and jolly.

But hey, there's always room for interpretation in legacy characters like these and if the results are as funny as Bad Santa was, I'll be happy.

Besides, anyone trying to tell me that we can't have a cranky Santa is obviously forgetting what he was like in the 1964 Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

There's a precedent here, people.

But as much as I'm pulling for my longshot candidate, it's hard not to be satisfied with any of these picks.

Basically, I'm not likely to get too mad as long as the world doesn't decide that their next Santa is Gilbert Gottfried.

Sure, it might be funny at first. But if even the thought of a person saying, "ho, ho, ho" gives us migraines, it's probably best to go with somebody else.

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