Tom Hanks, Zooey Deschanel and More Stars You Forgot Were in Classic Holiday Movies

From Zooey Deschanel's performance in Elf to Tom Hanks' role in The Polar Express, see the celebrities who appeared in your favorite holiday moves.

By Mike Vulpo, Megan Larratt Dec 26, 2022 5:00 AMTags
Watch: 5 Holiday Movies Straight Off the Naughty List!

It's not a Christmas movie without Santa Claus—and an unexpected actor.

Around the world, people are getting in the spirit of the holidays by watching classic films centered around the most wonderful time of the year. And while some stars have quickly become Hallmark staples, there are many others who have starred in festive films.

Fans always obsess over Will Ferrell's portrayal of Buddy the Elf in Elf. But far too many forget that Zooey Deschanel is the actress who reminds us all that the best way to spread holiday cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

And if you decode to watch The Polar Express in the coming days, don't spend too long trying to guess the voice of the film's eccentric conductor. It's Tom Hanks, of course! And while you may recognize Daryl Sabara from Spy Kids and Taylor Momsen from Gossip Girl, these talented stars also appear in festive movies.

Celebrities Celebrate the Holidays 2022: Christmas, Hanukkah and More

Take a trip down memory lane and look back on all the stars you forgot were in Christmas movies below.

Thomas Brodie Sangster

Now a hunky, mysterious, spicy male lead, known as Benny Watts in Netflix's The Queen's Gambit, this actor originally stole our hearts back in 2003 for his role as Sam in Love Actually.

Taylor Momsen

Well known for her character, Jenny Humphrey, in the popular series, Gossip Girl, this young star was the iconic Cindy Lou Who in Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey

Tom Hanks

No stranger to the big screen, this recognizable and extremely talented actor hides behind his voice in the animated classic, The Polar Express. Playing the eccentric conductor, Tom helps to save the day, which honestly comes as no surprise!

Steve Martin

The Pink Panther alum stars in the classic holiday film Trains, Planes and Automobiles as an easily excitable businessman. No matter what film it is, there's always a good laugh involved when Steve is on the screen!

Michael Keaton

Recognized for his award winning roles in both Birdman and Spotlight, this intense actor takes a softer approach in the 1998 holiday classic, Jack Frost.

Jude Law

Known today for his work on the dark drama Young Pope, Jude also plays the devilishly handsome and charming love interest of co-star Cameron Diaz in the classic Nancy Meyers film The Holiday. 

Zooey Deschanel

Immediately identifiable from her signature smooth voice, this New Girl star plays the enticing and charming role of the helper elf in the Will Ferrell classic, Elf.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Known for his iconic films in the Terminator franchise and his political position as the former Governor of California, you probably forgot Arnold was also the star of Jingle All the Way. Released in 1996, Arnold's character, Howard Langston, attempts the impossible mission of tracking down a sold out toy for his son. Sounds like a job for the Terminator!

Dylan McDermott

You might recognize this actor from a spookier genre when he starred in four seasons of American Horror Story beginning in 2011. However, Dylan played the touching role of Bryan Bedford, a kind and supportive boyfriend who attempts to foster belief in Santa in the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street. We believe!

Catherine O'Hara

Known as Moira in the hit TV series, Schitt's Creek, this actress played the iconic role of Kevin's mom Kate McCallister in the holiday classic, Home Alone, in 2001. Instead of saying "David," she is screaming Kevin!

David Krumholtz

Recognized today as Charlie Eppes from the CBS drama Numb3rs, this star originally stole the show in 1994 as the sarcastic head elf, Bernard, in The Santa Clause. Returning as Bernard in The Santa Clause 2, David will always be our unsung hero of the holidays who ensures the spirit of Santa lives on!

Jamie Lee Curtis

This Freaky Friday mom played the role of Nora Krank in the classic 2004 holiday film, Christmas with the Kranks!

Daryl Sabara

Known for his role in Spy Kids as Juni Cortez, this actor stays on the same action train (literally) in the classic holiday film, The Polar Express

Kevin Bacon

Popularly known for some of his more intense rolls in the horror genre like You Should Have Left and Tremors, Kevin Bacon also played the hilarious and competitive street goer to steal Steve Martin's much needed taxi in the holiday comedy Trains, Planes and Automobiles. Cheeky!

Joe Pesci

Known for his incredible performance in the critically acclaimed film, The Irishman, this actor first developed his broody, dark character range playing the co-villain, Harry, in Home Alone.

This story was originally published on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020 at 8 a.m.PT.

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