18 Questions with Jack Skellington “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

by Sue Taggart

Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” seems like the perfect holiday movie for these times! Given the year that 2020 has turned out to be, even Christmas will be nothing like we’re used to, including “Sandy Claws!”

For those of you who have not seen it, Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) is a delightfully spooky Disney movie perfect for both the Halloween and Christmas seasons. The musical film follows the “Pumpkin King,” Jack Skellington, as he falls down the door to Christmas Town and takes on the role of “Sandy Claws.”

We wanted to know more about the movie (which is one of our favorites), so decided to ask Jack Skellington himself our 18 questions for December 2020.

1) What’s your real name, you seem to have so many?

Jack Skellington

2) But who were you before you died?

Sandy Claws: T’was long ago, long before the story you all know occurred, I was a mere human, much like you all

3) What’s your favorite food?

Pumpkins of course, I am the Pumpkin King after all!

4) Was “The Night Before Christmas your first movie?

Everyone thinks it was this one, but I did have a cameo role in Beetlejuice in 1988. Another of Burton’s ghoulish creations, that man has a very vivid imagination. My character or likeness has also been spotted in “Coraline,” “Princess and the Frog,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Finding Nemo,” and even “Sleepy Hollow,” I get around for a skeleton.

5) We heard that there were only supposed to be three characters in the movie, you, your dog Zero, and Santa Claus, what happened?

Jack Skellington “The Night Before Christmas”

Well, you know that Tim Burton, he got a bit carried away, and he’s used to getting his own way. His name is above the title, even though he was not the director, he was the producer…egomaniac that Tim.

6) What’s your green memory from the movie?

Oogie Boogie, of course, he’s as green as they get. Remember that scene when his skin is pulled off, he’s full of bugs! That creeps out a lot of people, but those bugs are really good for soil regeneration, I read that somewhere.

7) How did  you end up in Christmas Town?

I am the patron spirit of Halloween, not to brag, but that’s on par with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, I even have my own holiday. I was the de facto ruler of ghoulish Halloween Town. But I become tired of celebrating Halloween every year. It can get very monotonous you know. So, one day, I  opened a portal to Christmas Town, and decided to switch things up a bit—kidnapping Santa Claus and recreating the yuletide cheer in Halloween Town. Ho, Ho, Ho!

8) Didn’t you fall for a rag doll?

I did,  Sally the love of my life.  

Oogie Boogie the big green one, attempted to turn Halloween into New Bug Day, and he tried to kidnap me, but kidnapped Sally by mistake. Oogie Boogie held her hostage but I came to the rescue and saved her and the town from the Oogie Boogie man, and she instantly fell in love with me. I wanted to free her from the clutches of her creator, the mad scientist Doctor Finkelstein. Sadly, Sally died… but not before we shared a passionate kiss on top of Spiral Hill. Romantic, right!

9) We read somewhere that you had a lot of heads, is that right?

Yes, they made me about 400 heads before they got it right. I mean I had a Ping-Pong ball for a head and two holes for eyes, so you’d think it would have been easy!

Jack Skellington “The Night Before Christmas”

10) Why don’t you have any eyes?

Tim Burton again, everyone wanted me to have eyes, but he was adamant, he said, “The first rule of drawn animation is that you have to have eyes for expression. I thought it would be great to give life to these characters that have no eyes.” Turns out he was right.

11) So, we see you removing parts of your body in the movie, how can you do that?

Well you have to remember, I’m not a flesh and blood human like you, I’m a living skeleton, I’m supernatural so I can remove parts of my body without harm. It’s a great party trick, perfect ice breaker. Do you remember the bit in the movie “Jack’s Lament,” when I remove my head and hold it in my hand, singing: “And since I am dead, I can take off my head to recite Shakespearean quotations.” Just my little nod to Hamlet.

12) How did you get out of Christmas Town?

Well, I discovered a wooded area with doors leading to other holiday lands. When I  went through the Christmas  door, I fell for quite a while, and then landed on a huge pile of snow. It was not the same  a door in a tree, like the one came through when I arrived.

13) We couldn’t help but notice that you only have four fingers, what kind of difference does that make?

Good question. Here’s some fun trivia. Well humans settled on a 10-digit counting system in part because they have 10 fingers. Since I only have four fingers on each hand, I count in base 8, otherwise known as Octal.

14) What’s your best party trick?

As Halloween Town’s celebrity ghoul, my claim to fame and my best party trick ever is scaring the chocolate out of unsuspecting children’s intestines. You have to see it, to believe it, do you want to see it?

15) Tell us about your dog Zero

Zero’s Jack’s ghost-dog and the tritagonist of the movie. He has a glowing pumpkin nose, remind you of anyone?  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, right? Zero helps guide me through the fog on Christmas Eve.

16) Was that you signing in the movie?

No, I can’t hold a tune, that was the composer Elfman. He also sang for Barrel and      the Clown with the Tear-Away Face, remember them?

17) Why was there never a “Nightmare Before Christmas 2”, it would have been a great sequel?

All Tim Burton’s fault, I was up for it, but he owns part of the character rights, so that was that. You know what he told MTV back in 2006? “I was always very protective of [‘Nightmare’], not to do sequels or things of that kind. You know, ‘Jack visits Thanksgiving world’ or other kinds of things, just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it.”

18) Now the last question, one everyone wants to know Is Jack Skellington Jack Sparrow?

All I’m going to say about that is, in Pirates of the Caribbean, when Jack Sparrow thinks he finds what he’s looking for, fails at it, and just says “Fuckit, I’m Jack Skellington, I scare people shitless, and that’s cool with me.”

Jack Skellington “The Night Before Christmas”

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