Some huge stars were shining bright on Sunday for an annual table read of the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The celeb-packed charity event, benefitting the Ed Asner Family Center, brought out some big names to recreate the magic of director Frank Capra’s 1946 iconic classic.
Brendan Fraser was on hand to play the iconic hero George Bailey — originally portrayed the Jimmy Stewart — while Christina Applegate brought wonderful charm playing Mary Hatch, a role first inhabited by Donna Reed.
Meanwhile, JK Simmons lent his inimitable gruffness to portray the villainous Mr. Potter (originally played by Lionel Barrymore). Also, the character of the lovable guardian angel Clarence, first played by Henry Travers, was read with charming earnestness by Seth Rogen — who admitted in a Q&A after the event that he’d never seen the film.
Additional stars included Jean Smart, Fred Armisen, Ken Jeong, Jim Beaver, Brent Spiner, Phil LaMarr, and James Cromwell, and was hosted once again by Tom Bergeron.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” was released in 1946 and follows the story of smalltown businessman George Bailey, who is desperately frustrated and thinking of ending it all — despite it being Christmastime. An angel is sent from Heaven to show him what life would have been like if he had never existed.
Fraser spoke about the experience of playing George Bailey after the event, and said it was “an honor” to read the lines that Stewart had made famous all those decades ago in a film that has gone on to be one of the most beloved movies in history.
The group also celebrated the life and legacy of Ed Asner, who died in August 2021, and whose son, Matt, has been leading the Ed Asner Family Center. Applegate, who worked with Asner on the first season of Dead to Me, recalled how the actor “always brought it,” and joked how he was foul-mouthed and authentic, but “in the most beautiful way.”
This marked the third year in a row for the charity event, which always stages table reads of It’s a Wonderful Life with different casts — and it’ll likely be hard for anyone who watched to imagine anyone else bringing these roles to life quite like Fraser, Applegate and Simmons.
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