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Deck The Halls - Matthew Broderick interview

Deck The Halls

Compiled by Jack Foley

MATTHEW Broderick talks about appearing in festive comedy Deck The Halls – about neighbours feuding over seasonal decorations – and how he spends Christmas with his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, and family…

Q. What kind of person is your character, Steve Finch?
Matthew Broderick: I enjoyed playing this role because Steve Finch is a husband and a father – it was fun to play a dad, I haven’t done that very much. Also, my character is funny. I’m very square and I get to wear stupid sweaters. I have been the chairman of the Christmas committee in a small town for years.

I’m in charge of decorations and I like Christmas to be tasteful and done exactly the way I want it. I’m very traditional. Everything is disrupted and my life turns upside down when the house across the street from me in our cul-de-sac is sold to Danny DeVito. He decides to go crazy decorating his house with thousands of glowing lights and I can’t stand it.

Q: How much do you enjoy physical comedy like this? It seems to come naturally to you…
Matthew Broderick: It’s all about relaxing and jumping in. I like comedy, I don’t know that it’s easier than anything else, but it’s something I have a feeling for. I do enjoy it and the skating race was particularly fun, because before we started shooting, they asked me if I would like to take some skating lessons.

I was excited. I showed up and there was an Olympic trainer, a speed skater and we had the whole rink to ourselves, an hour a day, and I trained for a few weeks. I really enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to work with an expert. I did have a stunt double for some of the shots – it was the stunt co-ordinator’s son who was a hockey player, so he was very good at getting in exactly the right spot.

Q: Do you think people really get obsessed like these two men?
Matthew Broderick: I do think people go crazy at Christmas, but I don’t think I’m like that. The ones who go crazy are usually people who like to think they are in charge, people who think they are the bosses and like to control everything, so they cannot stand other people getting the glory. Buddy Hall comes to town and people start to call him ‘The Christmas Guy’ which is basically my whole reason for living. When Buddy takes that away from me, I just can’t take it.

Q: What was it like working with Kristin Davis, who plays your wife in the film and who appeared with your real wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, on Sex And The City?
Matthew Broderick: I’ve known Kristin for a long time and it was easy working with her because it wasn’t a big romantic movie – that might have been different. I’ve never worked with her before and Sarah said she’d be great and she was.

Q: What was it like making a Christmas film in the summer heat in Canada?
Matthew Broderick: It was hot and it didn’t feel Christmassy. You have to pretend to act cold. In a way, it would have been much easier filming in the freezing cold in the middle of winter, but that’s the magic thing movies do. We may have been feeling hot and sticky and uncomfortable in our thick sweaters and gloves and coats, but the film ends up looking like a little town in Massachusetts in December, cold and festive.

It was fascinating watching the crew pump out the fake snow and build a huge tent that covered two houses, so we could shoot in the daytime and we didn’t need to shoot every night. The nights in Vancouver are very short during the summer.

Q: What’s a typical Christmas for your family?
Matthew Broderick: A typical Christmas for me revolves around family as well as eating enormous amounts of food. We’ve only lived in our house for about four years, so it’s all a little bit new and having a four-year-old, Christmas really revolves around him and what he likes. My wife [Sarah Jessica Parker] has an enormous family – a lot of brothers and sisters – so they come over and my family comes over and we just juggle going to different houses. I think it’s similar to what everyone does. I always think that Christmas is a lot of work. It means decorating, cooking, seeing people, I find it a lot of trouble.

Q: You’ve been successful on stage and in films for so long. Were you prepared for the impact Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would have on your career, when that became such a huge hit?
Matthew Broderick: I had already had a big hit on Broadway with Neil Simon’s play, Brighton Beach Memories, which meant I was quite well known in New York, but the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off really changed everything and took my career and life to another level.

I remember feeling “wow” when I was at a huge screening of the film in New York one evening with my family. We sat in the back of a packed theatre and the audience went absolutely bananas. It really felt like a big moment. It was great, but I felt it was all bigger than me, the movie was catching on in some extraordinary way that was beyond anything anyone had planned for.

Read our interview with Danny DeVito