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Star Robert Brian Wilson Reflects On ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ Over 30 Years Later


Easily the most iconic killer Santa in the history of the horror genre was Billy in Silent Night, Deadly Night, portrayed by young and inexperienced actor Robert Brian Wilson. For many years, fans had tried in vain to get in contact with Wilson or at least learn a bit about his current whereabouts, and there was a good reason he hadn’t been found. He didn’t want to be found.

In the wake of Silent Night, Deadly Night‘s release, Robert Brian Wilson got cold feet about the whole thing and essentially sided with the angry mothers who insisted that the 1984 slasher film was an abomination that never should have been. He wasn’t proud of his decision to star in the movie, and it was to be his only major role before quitting the business in the ’90s.

But now, over 30 years after Silent Night, Deadly Night caused controversy at the box office, Wilson has finally embraced his most memorable role as an actor. As of last year, he’s begun to make convention appearances (sometimes even posing for photos in a Santa suit!) and take part in interviews, and he credits the passion of horror fans for changing his outlook on the film.

Recently speaking with the show Without Your Head, Wilson reflected:

In the beginning it was… just because of the backlash, if you will… the PTA and the mothers came out and said, ‘How could you do this?’ And so, with no other side of the fence to look at, I was a little bit like, ‘Okay well, I’ll ride the wave with what these mothers are saying.’ And so I said, ‘Yea I agree. This shouldn’t have been put out in this way.’ But in retrospect, too bad for them. They were just behind the times.

Wilson explains why he now has a totally different outlook:

These folks that I’ve met are truly such genuine fans that I couldn’t escape that. These people were genuine and for that, I see the film in an entirely different way. And I appreciate it completely. And for whatever my personal thoughts were on the film at the moment, because of my performance or this or that… really insignificant at this point in time. When I look at it now, I find the humor in it. And so I have a whole new appreciation for the film than when it first came out. I’m pleased as punch. I can’t say anything bad about the film at this point in time. I’m pleased there’s such a fan following. I’m pleased it came out as it did.

So what has Robert Brian Wilson been up to in recent years? He’s a happily married father who’s become very successful in the trade show business, and he’s recently begun dabbling in acting again. Trained and more experienced, Wilson appeared in this year’s made-for-TV movies The Wrong Roommate and A Husband for Christmas, allowing him to hone his acting craft.

He admits he’s still not happy with his performance in SNDN, but he’s made peace with that.

I wish I could’ve provided a better performance,” Wilson told Without Your Head. “Lo and behold, 30 years later, no one really cares.”




  • Graham

    Nice to see he’s got a good attitude about it! Seems like a cool guy.

  • Grimphantom

    Back in the day was harsh for him, with all the crazy moms trying to banned this movie, he probably felt it was freaking witch hunt for him. Nice to see that he sees the movie differently over the years and appreciate the fans that they recognize him all these years.

    • Saturn

      Thing is that today there are kids who will watch it and think “what’s the big deal?” – they don’t remember the 1980’s like those of us who were of a certain age back then……

  • Alex

    He wishes he could’ve put on a better performance in SNDN? I thought he played the part very good. The movie scared the hell out of me when I was a kid and its still scary to watch

    • Saturn

      I was happy enough with his performance (hell, they weren’t going to get Marlon Brando for the role) in the movie and often find myself walking around during December muttering, as I walk past people in the street, “Naughty…..”

      I also loved the performance of the guy playing his brother in the (first) sequel too. I just watched SNDN2 tonight – and love that one to pieces too.
      “GARBAGE DAY!”


      • Adam Clifton

        god that SNDN 2 clip is cringe worthy

      • Alex

        Lol.I love part 2 and the guys eyebrows were the stars of that movie

      • I’ve still never actually seen SNDN2 but I must’ve watched that GARBAGE DAY clip hundreds of times over haha

  • Justin McGill

    I admit.. maybe the acting wasn’t the greatest.. but I’m sure he did the best.. Its kind of heartening to see him embrace the role.. Although it saddens me he didn’t embrace it then. i always felt that Billy was just as much a victim as anyone else. He saw a monster.. lived with a monster.. and slowly.. himself became that monster himself. I think they might have played that up some more.. but I appreciated the movie didn’t totally rush the whole childhood stuff that definitely formed him..

  • Joey Brando

    When you look that cute, are wearing a Santa outfit and carrying and axe…you don’t need to worry about acting skills. Actually his non-professional-acting naivety brings a lot of heart and sympathy to his character, IMO

    • THGrimm

      I agree! He felt real. Other than I thought he was a bit too mindless and lumbering, but I pin that more on the director. Still one of my favorite slasher films.

  • This movie was the best. I’m so disappointed that it wasn’t on my radar until now and I am so thankful that I finally watched it. Was it a “good” movie? Hell no. He has every right to be embarrassed about it. But it’s HILARIOUS and so incredibly entertaining. And honestly- I didn’t think it was going to start off the way that it did. It wasted no time getting right into it, which only made you want to find out what was going to happen next. So entertaining and I’m so sad that he went through such a long period of being embarrassed of the film as a whole. As an avid horror fan and Christmas lover– this is the best of both worlds for me!

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