JoAnna Garcia Swisher appreciates her share of family films and romcoms. However, a project like Christmas with the Campbells allows her to flex acting somewhere she seldom ever goes; a raunchy holiday comedy. Another unique aspect of the film is that it's a female director helming the project when others like it are often monopolized by men. The film follows Jess (Brittany Snow), who gets dumped by her boyfriend right before Christmas, but his parents still want to celebrate the holiday with her while their son is away. Then she meets his cousin, but Christmas gets a lot more complicated once the ex returns. Garcia-Swisher spoke to Bleeding Cool about reuniting with director Clare Niederpruem, how the film is a welcome change compared to her other work, co-star Julia Duffy, Monopoly, her favorite Christmas films, and her two cents on Die Hard as a Christmas film.
Christmas with the Campbells: Reuniting with Niederpruem
What intrigued you about 'Christmas with the Campbells?'
Garcia Swisher: I love a good Christmas movie, and I'm always up for a little offbeat comedy. So mix the two, and I was in.
Did it feel like kind of a refreshing experience to do something like this?
Yeah, in a ton of ways. It's working with really funny actors and getting to tell Vince Vaughn jokes and make each other laugh. It was refreshing and a lot of fun. I love doing comedy, but I've spent a lot of time as of late in the more heartfelt romance space, and it's a nice little breath of fresh air for me.
Can you break down what it is like working with Clare [Niederpruem] and the type of set she ran?
Clare is a force, and this is the second movie I've done with her. I'm always totally amazed by the fact that she's this pint-sized little thing, but she knows what she wants, and she's not going to stop until she gets it. In the first movie I shot with Clare, we were in Ireland, and she hopped the fence off the cliff somewhere and was willing to get arrested to get the shot. She was so passionate about it that I was willing to hop the fence too. Our producers told us we couldn't, but we almost got this shot.
She's a force to be reckoned with and will be a bright star in this business. She already is, but I look forward to seeing her career take off. It's interesting because she has so much experience in telling these heartfelt love stories and doing it in such a really fun and refreshing way that's got a nice pace to it. Sliding in and being able to direct a heavily comedic movie is a whole different beast, and I was so impressed by her.
Was there anyone in the cast you're most surprised by on set?
It was fun to go to work and know I would be entertained all day. That is how I felt. I remember Julia Duffy kept saying, "What movie are we making?" Like, "I don't know what we are doing?" She was just like, "I have no idea how this will turn out," but she's such a genius when it comes to embodying her characters, living in that space, then the comedy that flows from her, and that is so special. She's also so precious and beautiful, and I admire her in that way. No one surprised me on set; it was a real joy to watch people work.
Was there a particular scene that stood out for you?
Shooting the 'Monopoly' scene, I don't think you see as much of it as we shot a lot more 'Monopoly,' and I can only imagine what the cutting room floor looks like [laughs]. I was well aware that 90 percent of the things we were filming would never even be approved to be put in the movie, even if we made it like a real "pushing the envelope" kind of Christmas movie. It was a lot of fun, but that just had a lot to do with the fact that the four of us were together, and everyone was trying to make each other laugh, so the sky was the limit.
Were there any Christmas movies you liked growing up that resonated with you?
We watched the Griswolds in ['National Lampoons: Christmas Vacation'], and I love those films. Then we showed our daughters 'A Christmas Story' for the first time. My youngest was horrified by the tongue on the frozen metal post. She was horrified and traumatized by that, but I always loved revisiting old Christmas movies. My kids are now old enough that I can show them some of the fun ones.
Do you have a favorite adult comedy, maybe a Christmas-themed one?
I loved 'Love, Actually.' Everybody calls 'Die Hard,' a Christmas movie. I don't know if I necessarily viewed it as a Christmas movie, but I liked it. So if that counts, I'll throw it out there.
It takes place at Christmas, so it qualifies.
Checking the boxes [laughs].