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Willie Stokes

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I'm an eating, drinking, shitting, fucking Santa Claus.
~ Willie Stokes

Willie Stokes is the main character in the 2003 film Bad Santa and its 2016 sequel. He is played by Billy Bob Thornton in both movies.

Willie is a criminal who works as a mall Santa every holiday season with his midget friend Marcus, who poses as an elf. Every year on Christmas Eve, the two of them rob the mall, living off of the stolen loot for the next year. Willie is an alcoholic and a whoremonger, and makes no effort to mask his contempt for children and pretty much everyone else he comes into contact with.

One year, Willie is forced to stay with a random kid named Thurman Merman in the Phoenix suburbs in order to evade the police, and immediately plans to rob his home but doesn't after realizing that Thurman doesn't have any supervision other than his senile grandmother. Instead, he just steals some money from the father's safe and his car. Over time, Willie grows genuinely fond of Thurman and even beats up a gang of skateboarders for bullying him. On Christmas Eve, during his mall heist, Willie takes a pink stuffed elephant as a gift to Thurman, but is caught and gunned down by the police. He manages to survive his wounds, and his cohort Marcus is arrested.

Willie returns in Bad Santa 2. Although Willie was offered a cushy job as a sensitivity counselor at the end of the original, Willie eventually reverted back to his old ways. He still keeps in touch with Thurman, but has grown to slightly resent him. Since his elderly grandmother (and sole caretaker) has passed away of old age, and his father's whereabouts are unknown, Thurman has no family of his own so he considers Willie to be his father figure.

Thurman follows Willie to Chicago, where is plotting a heist with Marcus and his mother Sunny, and once he's there he invites Willie to come and watch him perform with a children's choir. Willie initially plans to skip the performance but his conscience gets the better of him and he goes to support Thurman, moved to tears at how well he can sing. However, Sunny reveals that she was only using Willie and Marcus. Sunny attempts to flee with the heist money but Willie stops her, saying that he'd rather let the charity have it than let Sunny take it. Angered, Sunny attempts to shoot Willie but Thurman inadvertently takes the bullet while trying to give Willie a hug. Willie and Thurman remain in Chicago for the rest of the holiday season, while Marcus recuperates from injuries sustained by Sunny. Willie accepts that Thurman and Marcus are his new family, but that doesn't stop him from pranking Marcus by putting his testicles on his face and takes photos of it.

Trivia

  • Billy Bob Thornton will be reprising the role in the sequel Bad Santa 2.

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