Peter Billingsley Reflects on 'A Christmas Story' and How the Film Shaped His Life

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Ralphie/Peter
  • Ralphie/Peter
Every now and then, BuzzFeed rolls out a nice little story that won't turn brains into list-based gunk. Today, Adam Vary's profile of Peter Billingsley - that's Ralphie to you - hit the website.

The piece speaks for itself, so do check it out. For fans of the canonical Christmas tale, it's a fairly heartwarming look into the impact of the film on its lead star.

Here's a choice excerpt from Mr. Vary's work:

It’s exactly this kind of accelerated adulthood that usually fucks up child actors for the rest of their lives. “When you’re number one on the call sheet, you have a lot of power,” says [Jon] Favreau. “You’re treated a certain way, and certain things are expected of you beyond what’s expected of a kid.”

“Well, you grew up faster, I think, in some ways,” Billingsley says. “There’s a sense of responsibility that maybe other [kids] don’t have. But my parents kept that very much in perspective. It was always regarded as a privilege [and] an honor to be a part of this stuff.”

Fortunately for Billingsley, when A Christmas Story first opened in theaters, it was far from a hit — even if it didn’t feel fortunate at the time. “I remember the only place you could get information on box office was Entertainment Tonight,” he says. “I don’t know what it did cume, but under $20 [million].” (His memory is spot-on: The film made $19.3 million over its initial theatrical run, roughly $48 million in 2013 dollars.) “And so you think, That’s it. This was a 13-channel universe. Movies didn’t have a shelf-life, really."

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