April 1, 2023

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Christmas Vacation star Beverly D’Angelo is back to reclaim her holiday movie crown in Violent Night

More than three decades after starring alongside Chevy Chase in the holiday classic National Lampoon’s Christmas, Beverly D’Angelo can now be seen in what could be a holiday classic-in-the-making, the just-released Violent Night. So is the actress happy to be the Queen of Christmas Movies?

“I will take that,” says D’Angelo, whose many other film credits include 1980’s Coal Miner’s Daughter and 1998’s American History X. “I’m happy to come at Christmas from all different kinds of angles, and illustrate the good, the bad, the ugly, and the joyful.”

Beverly D’Angelo

Universal Pictures Beverly D’Angelo in ‘Violent Night’

D’Angelo’s character in Violent Night is certainly different from the supportive Ellen Griswold of the Vacation franchise. Directed by Tommy Wirkola, the movie stars David Harbour as Father Christmas, who tries to save the life of a young girl (Leah Brady) after her rich family is menaced by home invaders. D’Angelo portrays the clan’s matriarch, Gertrude Lighthouse, a businesswoman and, EW suggests, a nasty piece of work.

“I think that’s fair to say,” says D’Angelo, with a laugh. “She is the CEO of Lightstone Industries, and her overriding goal is to preserve the Lightstone legacy at all cost — and, yeah, okay, there might be some human cost. Like any family that’s all tied-up and burdened by great wealth, there’s going to be a slight lack of humanity there. It was so much fun. You know, when I first went on that interior set of that great room and saw that Christmas tree, [I thought] I’ve been in that Christmas movie. Christmas Vacation had the same kind of setting, but this is a little bit tonier. I relished coming at the holiday and embodying a completely different perspective.”

Beverly D'Angelo

Beverly D’Angelo

Universal Pictures ‘Violent Night’

While Gertrude is a cold character, D’Angelo reveals that the shoot in Canada was literally freezing.

“It averaged 23 below,” says the actress. “It was so cold that we had to get picked up in a van to be taken 50 feet to a soundstage. We were in Winnipeg, beautiful place, but [we were] always fighting against the cold. By the way, it’s called Violent Night, not Violent Middle of the Day When the Sun is Out and It’s Relatively Warm. All those exteriors were at night when temperatures were plummeting even more.”

The chilly nature of the production was in stark contrast to that of Christmas Vacation.

“It was all fake,” she says. “It was on the Warner Bros. lot, and we were definitely in sunny California, except for the exterior stuff that we did in Colorado.”

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION, Johnny Galecki, Beverly D'Angelo, Chevy Chase, Juliette Lewis, 1989

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, Johnny Galecki, Beverly D’Angelo, Chevy Chase, Juliette Lewis, 1989

Everett Collection ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’

D’Angelo hopes that audiences will warm to her new fictional family in the same way they have the Griswolds.

“The fans of Christmas Vacation — and really all of those Vacation movies — are so loyal,” she says. “There’s something about the way that the Griswolds have seeped into our national culture, and I’d love the Lightstones to be in there too. Here’s the thing about Christmas Vacation and Violent Night. [I] don’t want to give spoilers, but the bottom line is, love conquers all.”

Violent Night is now in theaters. Watch the film’s trailer below.

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