'A Christmas Story' bully Zack Ward talks movie, Cleveland house and his new victim
Actor Zack Ward, who played Scut Farkus in "A Christmas Story," is visiting the film's iconic Cleveland home this weekend. He will also attend a screening of its sequel, "A Christmas Story Christmas," in Akron.
Ward reprises his role as Scut, now a grown-up reformed bully, in the new movie. The actor will pose for photos with fans and sign autographs at the Cleveland home, which is currently for sale.
The Enquirer spoke with Ward about the house, "A Christmas Story Christmas" and his work with the Alzheimer's Association. Ward also tried his hand at Cincinnati trivia over on The Enquirer's TikTok. Take a look below.
'Don't ever come here': 'A Christmas Story' actor kicked off iconic home's property
Making 'A Christmas Story' sequel was no easy task
Ward credited Peter Billingsley, aka Ralphie Parker, for making sure the sequel to "A Christmas Story" was done right and not a "cash grab."
"There were a bunch of sequels that were discussed for many, many years, and the story wasn't there," he said. "When the script was not there, he (Peter) was not willing to sign off on it, and neither was I."
Ward signed on to the film after seeing the final script, co-written by Nick Schenk, who is known for his work on "Gran Torino" and "The Mule."
"Not really what you would anticipate for a family Christmas film – the guy who writes films for Clint Eastwood," Ward said, referring to Schenk. "But he kept that rawness to it, that genuine nature that makes you fall in love with that Jean Shepherd world."
No last-minute shake-ups this time around
Unbeknownst to some, Ward was actually cast as the bully sidekick to Yano Anaya's (Grover Dill) main antagonist in "A Christmas Story." However, when director Bob Clark saw Ward in person, he swapped the two teenagers' lines, turning Scut Farkus into the lead villain and Grover Dill into his partner in crime.
"My auditions (for the movie) had been on tape – a brand new invention called VHS tape… So, I had not met him in person," Ward explained. "When I got on set, Bob saw me, and there's Yano Anaya who plays Grover Dill, and I was about a foot taller than him back then. So, he swapped our roles."
No such changes were made on the set of "A Christmas Story Christmas," though, as Ward said, "that was the early '80s."
His hopes for the 'A Christmas Story' house that's for sale
Ward said he's not interested in purchasing the Cleveland house and its surrounding properties, although the idea was floated by some former cast members.
"I was an owner of a bar and live music venue, and I can tell you, running a brick-and-mortar is a full-time job," he said. "We don't have the time to run this. We don't have the money to buy the thing outright. So, I hope that whoever buys it, I want to work with them to help them create the best experience for the fans. That way, the fans get what they want, the new owners get what they want and I get to show up and wave at people and have a good time."
How to see Ward this weekend in Northeast Ohio
Ward will sign autographs and take pictures with fans at the Christmas Story House and Museum in Cleveland on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Sunday, there will be a screening of "A Christmas Story Christmas," which Ward will attend, at the Highland Square Theatre in Akron.
Both events are free, and visitors will be asked to make a donation to the Alzheimer's Association.
Ward became involved with the organization after his father was diagnosed with stage 4 Alzheimer's disease and dementia two years ago.
"It's a nightmare experience. Not only for the person who's going through it, but for their family and their friends," he said. "I would like to bully Alzheimer's. That's my goal in life."
Some questions from the newsroom
The Enquirer's newsroom has a few "Christmas Story" fans in it, and Ward answered their burning questions.
Do you own a leg lamp?
I did! It was the big leg lamp. It was beautiful, but the bulb inside the lamp went out and I tried to fix it myself and I destroyed it. So, I need to get a new one.
Have you ever gotten your tongue stuck to a pole?
No, I'm not an idiot. I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and we were well-warned about this!
What is your favorite Christmas movie, besides "A Christmas Story"?
"Highlander" and "Die Hard."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: 'A Christmas Story' bully Zack Ward talks new movie, Cleveland house