//‘It’s a Fantastic Life’ actors Karolyn Grimes, Jimmy Hawkins recall reminiscences of bringing vacation movie to life

‘It’s a Fantastic Life’ actors Karolyn Grimes, Jimmy Hawkins recall reminiscences of bringing vacation movie to life

In 1946, little one actors Karolyn Grimes and Jimmy Hawkins had no concept they created one of the vital iconic vacation movies in Hollywood historical past.

It was the 12 months when Frank Capra’s movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” first premiered in theaters. The beloved drama tells the story of an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) who is shipped from heaven to assist George Bailey (James Stewart), a desperately annoyed businessman on the verge of suicide. Clarence reveals George what life would actually have been like if he had by no means existed.

The black-and-white basic, which additionally starred Donna Reed, has grow to be a staple through the festive season and continues to be acknowledged as considered one of Stewart’s hottest movies. Grimes, 79, and Hawkins, 78, would go on to win the hearts of tens of millions for their roles as Zuzu and Tommy Bailey.

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In time for the season, Paramount spent over a 12 months restoring the movie utilizing the unique unfavourable, together with the most recent know-how. The result’s a extra vibrant, detailed wealthy image, which is being launched on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Grimes and Hawkins spoke to Fox Information about bringing the enduring basic to life, their favourite reminiscence of the late Stewart and what actually occurred through the wrap get together.

Fox Information: How does it really feel to know that “It’s A Wonderful Life” is among the most celebrated vacation motion pictures in Hollywood historical past?
Karolyn Grimes: Effectively, it is actually a privilege to be part of that. It is an honor to be in that film as a result of it means a lot to folks, not solely in the US however around the globe. And it makes such a distinction in folks’s lives. I really feel prefer it’s grow to be part of American historical past, definitely movie historical past… I really feel very privileged to be part of that.

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American actors James Stewart (1908 - 1997), as George Bailey, and Karolyn Grimes as his daughter Zuzu, in a scene from "It's a Wonderful Life." The film was directed by Frank Capra in 1946.

American actors James Stewart (1908 – 1997), as George Bailey, and Karolyn Grimes as his daughter Zuzu, in a scene from “It is a Fantastic Life.” The movie was directed by Frank Capra in 1946.
(Picture by Silver Display screen Assortment/Getty Photos)

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Jimmy Hawkins: Yeah, me, too. As Tommy used to say. “Me, too!” However [it’s true]. It was a job for everyone. After World Warfare II, issues have been getting again to regular, and simply to be chosen as [part of the] Bailey household, it was an incredible expertise. After which take a look at what occurred so a few years later. It grew to become so widespread. You go, “Wow! Look! We did a job on this film for 12 days, and now it is one of the vital beloved motion pictures ever made.” It is actually unimaginable.

We’re fortunate that we’re nonetheless round to hold Frank Capra’s message of the film — every man’s life touches so many others that in the event that they weren’t round, it could go away an terrible gap. And that is why this image is widespread, as a result of folks really feel, “Effectively, perhaps there’s somewhat little bit of George Bailey in me.” And it is a good message. It is only a stunning message.

Fox Information: The movie is being launched on 4K Extremely HD Blu-ray for the primary time. How do you are feeling about that?
Grimes: It’s simply fabulous. It is simply so clear and crisp. You’re feeling such as you’re proper there, and also you’re part of the story.
Hawkins: It’s stunning. They’ve restored it. It is most likely higher now than after they noticed it on the display screen initially. That is how nice a job they did.

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Jimmy Hawkins (pictured here) won the watermelon-eating contest at the film's wrap party.

Jimmy Hawkins (pictured right here) received the watermelon-eating contest on the movie’s wrap get together.
(Picture courtesy of Jimmy Hawkins)

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Fox Information: The remastered model highlights a bonus clip for followers. Are you able to inform us extra about that?
Hawkins: They uncovered this eight-millimeter footage of the wrap get together, which was a picnic out at Arthur’s Lake, in a city known as Lake Malibu. Issues come out of it. About 25, 30 years in the past, once we first acquired collectively, we’d discuss [it]. And I stated, “Oh, yeah, I keep in mind I received the watermelon contest on the picnic.”

Grimes: And we stated, “No, you did not. You have been four-and-a-half years previous. You could not have received that!”
Hawkins: We have been at a particular screening on the Academy… They stated, “We’ve a shock for you.” And I stated, “Oh, nicely, that is nice. I prefer to be shocked.” And up pops 9 minutes of this picnic. Whoever shot it should have preferred us Bailey youngsters as a result of there’s numerous footage of us. And pictures of me profitable the watermelon contest.

Grimes: 4 years previous. I stated, “How did you do it? How did you do it?” He stated, “I ate the seeds.”
Hawkins: That’s it. You do not take outing… And I received. Now they know I received.

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Actor Jimmy Stewart smiling during a break in filming on the set of the movie "It's A Wonderful Life."

Actor Jimmy Stewart smiling throughout a break in filming on the set of the film “It is A Fantastic Life.”
(Picture By Martha Holmes/The LIFE Premium Assortment/Getty Photos)

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Fox Information: What’s one reminiscence of James Stewart that also makes the each of you smile as we speak?
Grimes: Effectively, after I was upstairs within the petal scene with him and I used to be sick, I tousled a line. Jimmy Stewart stated, “That is OK, Karolyn. You will get it proper subsequent time.” We did the scene once more and I acquired the road completely. I’ll let you know, it was actually good for my ego and my self-confidence.

He actually gave me a pat on the again there, and I will always remember that. He was an exquisite, great man. He touched numerous lives, simply being him. He was George Bailey in actual life.
Hawkins: He was. You may see the place Jimmy Stewart got here from. Indiana, Pennsylvania — form of a small city. And naturally, Donna Reed in Denison, Iowa. They introduced the weather of these cities to that film. You may see it. They have been simply common folks they usually captured who they actually have been, from small-town America.

Fox Information: What have been they like after the filming of “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
Hawkins: The factor you keep in mind most is years after the film, how if you run into Jimmy Stewart, or — I had the pleasure of working with Donna Reed years later, too, — and the way good they have been. They have been simply very good folks. And really giving. That is the most effective reminiscence you’ll be able to take away from doing an image at four-and-a-half years of age. These folks have been very good. Very, very good.

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James Stewart (1908-1997) and Donna Reed (1921-1986) smiling in a publicity portrait issued for the film, "It's A Wonderful Life," circa 1946.

James Stewart (1908-1997) and Donna Reed (1921-1986) smiling in a publicity portrait issued for the movie, “It is A Fantastic Life,” circa 1946.
(Picture by Silver Display screen Assortment/Getty Photos)

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Fox Information: Karolyn, does it ever get tiresome to say your well-known line “Daddy, teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings?”
Grimes: By no means. The film has touched our lives in a really optimistic method. I’m all the time comfortable to share it with others.

Fox Information: It’s been stated director Frank Capra was additionally very type to the each of you. Is that true?
Grimes: Oh, sure. He was very type. He’d get down on his knees and look us within the eyes. On our degree, in order that he might get us to do what he needed us to do. It labored each time. It actually did.

Hawkins: And he was very affected person. I had requested him one time, “What was probably the most tough scene to shoot within the film?” And he stated, “It was the one with you youngsters.” And I went, “Oh, have been we tough?” He stated, “No, no, no.” He stated, “There was a lot occurring.” You had the little woman pound on the piano and the boy asking, “How do you spell this?” And also you’re burping and also you had all these humorous issues occurring, and but George Bailey was contemplating, “Oh, my God! $8,000!” He stated, “It was a fantastic line in order that the folks would not be laughing at you.”

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The Italian American director and screenwriter Frank Capra smiling while leaning on a camera, circa 1930s.

The Italian American director and screenwriter Frank Capra smiling whereas leaning on a digital camera, circa 1930s.
(Picture by Mondadori through Getty Photos)

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He needed them to chuckle with you, and the scene actually turned out excellent. You simply go, “That is the best way households are,” and he captured that. He was doing a balancing act, he felt. However it turned out nice… It was an incredible scene and he did an exquisite job. He actually was an incredible man.