Disney’s The Naughty Nine Director and Star Get Into the Christmas Spirit
Nov 21, 2023
For just about any kid who hopes for a visit from Santa Claus, being put on the “naughty list” is the ultimate fear. But for these nine children, that only inspires them to pull off the greatest heist in North Pole history. This is the basis for the Disney Channel’s upcoming Christmas movie, The Naughty Nine.
The movie stars Winslow Fegley as Andy, a kid who is, by all accounts, too smart for his own good. When he wakes up one morning to find that Santa stood him up, he decides to take matters into his own hands. He puts together a team of equally outraged fellow naughty-listers: his best friend Dulce (Camila Rodriguez), tech wiz Lewis (Anthony Joo), animal whisperer Rose (Clara Stack), disguise expert Jon Anthony (Deric McCabe), “innocent” Albert (Ayden Elijah), and getaway driver Ha-Yoon (Imogen Cohen). Andy’s sister Laurel (Madilyn Kellam) also joins in the hijinks, along with Bruno (Derek Theler), the frazzled pilot who may or may not have had an incident involving flying reindeer. And rounding out the cast is the always charming Danny Glover in a magical turn as Santa Claus.
The Naughty Nine is slated for release November 22nd on the Disney Channel, and promises action, peril, and all the Christmas cheer any naughty-lister could hope for. Director Alberto Belli and actor Winslow Fegley spoke with MovieWeb about what makes the movie so perfect for the upcoming holiday.
A First Christmas
The Naughty Nine Release Date November 22, 2023 Director Alberto Belli Cast Winslow Fegley, Camila Rodriguez, Anthony Joo, Imogen Cohen, Deric McCabe, Ayden Elijah, Derek Theler, Danny Glover Rating G Runtime 83 min Main Genre Christmas
After having made a plethora of short films and directed TV series like Upload and the feature film Gatlopp, The Naughty Nine is Alberto Belli’s first step into the festive world of Christmas movies, which brought on unexpected challenges. But the experience was overall positive and even joyful, becoming a way for the director to embrace the holiday spirit:
It was my first time directing something Christmas-y, which was always my dream. It was different in a sense of world-building. This time it was creating Santa’s village! How does the sleigh look? How does the workshop look? I had the time of my life.
The design of Santa’s workshop is as fun as you can imagine, while also being tricky to get to. After all, only the most tech-savvy kid in their school was able to pinpoint its location. Like a classic heist movie, every member of the Naughty Nine team plays their part in breaking into the heavily guarded North Pole, especially the mastermind, Andy. The beginning of the movie shows off his skills as he enacts one of his big schemes (likely landing him on the naughty list). This isn’t your average slick kid — Andy is able to pinpoint the specific patterns and routes of the local school faculty in order to pull off a big heist before winter break. Fegley talked about what made the character so much fun to play:
“He’s kinda got a George Clooney vibe about him, in Ocean’s Eleven. He’s definitely very mischievous, he’s always got something planned. He’s got a great planning mind, that’s what I love about him.”
There’s a Little Naughtiness in All Of Us
There’s no such thing as a perfect child, but just about every kid tries to be one around the holiday season for fear of Santa Claus watching them from the North Pole. Some of us, however, just can’t resist the temptation to pull a stunt here and there. The 14-year-old but beyond-his-years Fegley shared a bit of how his personal “naughty side” helped bring Andy to life:
When I was younger, I got into a good bit of trouble. For sure, back then I would probably be on the naughty list. I drew a bit of inspiration from my younger self for Andy.
Related: The Santa Clauses Director Jason Winer Says The Godfather Part II Inspired Season 2
Of course, there’s no age limit to naughtiness. Belli shared a bit of how he would contribute if he were recruited as a member of the Naughty Nine. As it turns out, he would be the go-to tech genius for the heist:
“I used to be a computer science engineer, so I think I can kind of bring those skills to the table. Maybe hack something along the way.”
While Belli has the brains, Fegley would bring some dexterity to the team. “Other than being an actor, I’m a big rock climber!” said the actor. “I love rock climbing, it’s something I really got into after moving to Colorado. If you needed a rock climber for something, maybe scaling a wall, you could hit me up!”
A True Christmas Heist
In the spirit of heist movies, The Naughty Nine features quite a few thrilling sequences — after all, the kids are breaking into one of the most heavily guarded places on Earth. There’s plenty of security, guards, and traps for the Nine to maneuver around. For Belli, several movies served as inspiration for The Naughty Nine when it came to thrills and espionage:
“Ocean’s Eleven served as inspiration for the heist itself. For the action and adventure, we were inspired by The Goonies, Indiana Jones, and Back to the Future. I really wanted to have those feelings where you were immersed in the adventure. You have these kids going into the North Pole — I wanted you to feel that you were one of them, almost like a Disney ride of sorts.”
While the Naughty Nine start their mission with typical naughty intentions, the Christmas spirit works its way into everybody. The movie has its warm and fuzzy moments as much as it has excitement, thrills, and hijinks. And like any cheesy feel-good Christmas movie, there may even be a few heartfelt lessons learned along the way. Fegley commented on the overall message of the film:
“I just hope audiences get a great feeling after watching this movie. I hope it gets them in the Christmas spirit, especially for kids. I hope they come out knowing that it’s always best to work together and to choose to do the right thing. I feel like that’s the really important message that this movie brings across. Maybe that will resonate with them.”
Related: 10 Best Christmas Movies on Disney+ to Watch Right Now
Belli chimed in with his own message from the movie:
When you combine many unique people, you can create a team that can solve, or conquer, the world. It’s great to be unique, but once you bring everyone’s uniqueness together as one, then you can be invincible.
The Naughty Nine will be premiering on the Disney Channel on November 22nd, and will be available to stream on Disney+ on Thanksgiving Day. You can watch the trailer below and find a link to stream the film:
Watch on Disney+
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