Only In Hollywood: Stars from Baker to Cumberbatch–on Christmas

By: - Columnist
/ 03:13 AM December 19, 2014
Benedict Cumberbatch: “The real treat is being with family.”ruben nepales

Benedict Cumberbatch: “The real treat is being with family.” RUBEN V. NEPALES

LOS ANGELES—For Benedict Cumberbatch, Christmas means a rare time to pause and relax with his family. For Simon Baker, it will be a day on the beach because his holidays are usually spent back in Australia, where it’s summer at the end of the year. For Tim Burton, it used to be “The Nightmare Before Christmas”—that was how he decorated for the Yuletide season. Here, they and other celebrities share their plans, memories or thoughts about Christmas.

Benedict Cumberbatch


It means I stop working. And I am with my fiancée (Sophie Hunter) and family in one place. I can’t wait. I am very much looking forward to it. It’s all about family and presents. The rest is just the icing on the cake. The real treat is being present with my family.

Simon Baker: Christmas in the summer. ruben nepales

Simon Baker: Christmas in the summer. RUBEN V. NEPALES

Simon Baker

I’ve had Christmases all over the place. But recently, we’ve been going back to Australia for Christmas. I love Christmas. It is stressful, particularly when you go back to Australia because you’ve got to schlep a lot of stuff with you. You’ve got to be pretty organized in advance, which I’m not very good at. My wife is, thankfully, pretty good at it.

If you’ve ever had Christmas in Australia, it’s incredibly festive. It’s summer—a little different. I’ve spent a couple of Christmases with ham sandwiches on the beach with my family. We just spent the day surfing and swimming. It’s very different from snowy and cold Christmas. I’m used to going in the ocean during Christmas.

Lorde likes giving and receiving handmade stuff. RUBEN V. NEPALES

Lorde likes giving and receiving handmade stuff. RUBEN V. NEPALES


In New Zealand (where she was born), it’s obviously very hot. So we go to the beach and have a barbecue.

I love receiving handmade things and making things for other people. I asked my mom, “Do you think they (siblings) would like it if I made them crafts this year?” She was like, “No, you better get them good, fancy stuff.”

Tim Burton decorates tree with Japanese toy monsters. REUTERS

Tim Burton decorates tree with Japanese toy monsters. REUTERS

Tim Burton

It’s a bit like “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” I have a Christmas tree and I put all my Japanese monsters on as ornaments. I always did that when I was younger. I had a mannequin that I put Christmas lights on, which is very Mario Bava-esque, very weird. I have always had that feeling (laughs).


Jessica Chastain

I feel like I have so much stuff so I don’t need so many things. My favorite thing is to see someone’s face when they open a present. Last year, I organized a secret trip to Disney World with my father, who never makes plans. My mom always makes the plans so I had to get my father involved—so he could make sure there was a dog sitter and all that stuff.

On Christmas morning, everyone—my brother and his wife, my other brother and sisters, my mom and dad—opened a present with a letter and Disney stuff. Each box had one word. When they started to piece it together, it said, “We’re going to Disney World tomorrow.”

Jeremy Renner: “A little eggnog, some rum...” RUBEN V. NEPALES

Jeremy Renner: “A little eggnog, some rum…”

I videotaped the whole thing. Of course, my mom thought like she knew what was happening. She went, “We’re going to Disneyland.” I said, “No, we’re not going to Disneyland. We’re going to Disney World.” At one point in the video, you can hear my mom go, “Tomorrow!?!” It was such a great trip.

Jeremy Renner

(“Yes, I am pregnant,” he joked even before the question about Christmas was asked.)

Christmas is about family. I get to spend time with family—[those times have become] farther [apart] and fewer… so it’s even more precious now. It’s the most important thing to me. We could be doing anything, from playing board games to being physically active outdoors, doing winter sports. As long as I am with my family, we can be doing anything. Usually, it requires

Sophia Loren’s sons and their kids visit her in Italy.RUBEN NEPALES

Sophia Loren’s sons and their kids visit her in Italy. RUBEN V. NEPALES

maybe a little eggnog, some rum and then we have even more fun. My family is a feisty group.

Sophia Loren

We all have an Italian Christmas. They come to [visit] me in Europe. We spend time with Carlo and Edoardo (Ponti, her sons) and their families. We usually have snow at the time of the family get-together.

Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt bought all her presents from one store. “That is so sad,” she cracked. RUBEN V. NEPALES

Emily Blunt bought all her presents from one store. “That is so sad,” she cracked. RUBEN V. NEPALES

This is so sad but I went online and I bought gifts for my entire family from the same place. I sent them in one big box yesterday. That’s what I did yesterday.

Matthew McConaughey

The routine is that we get our families together. Where that is going to be, we never know. My wife asks me to get stuff together. I have to do the Christmas cards but I have done nothing about it. It’s up to me to get them ready so we don’t send them off and people will get them on Valentine’s Day.

It’s a time when we decide whose place it is going to be the easiest to get to. We end up taking about 10 days, sometimes more, to go there and spend time with family. That’s what family time is really about for me.

Cooking is a big part of it. At about 4 p.m. until midnight, everyone gathers around where we are going to cook. She (wife Camila Alves) has gotten better [at cooking]. She has. I have been doing it longer but she’s a quick learner. She’s got good instincts in the kitchen.

Julianne Moore plans to watch plays and movies and sample restos in New York this season. RUBEN V. NEPALES

Julianne Moore plans to watch plays and movies and sample restos in New York this season. RUBEN V. NEPALES

Julianne Moore

My husband and son are going snowboarding for a few days before Christmas. My daughter, sister and I are going to Rome. My daughter has always wanted to go to Rome. I’d love to take her there. We’ll be back home for Christmas. We’ll be in New York and we’ll have a tree and a Christmas dinner. We have family members over and hang out.

This year, because we’re not going anywhere [after Christmas], we’re going to see a lot of movies. Maybe we’ll go to some restaurants we’ve wanted to go to, and see some plays. It’s a nice, cozy time in New York. I’m really looking forward to not flying a day after Christmas so it will be fun.

(To be concluded Sunday)

(E-mail the columnist at [email protected] Follow him at

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TAGS: Benedict Cumberbatch, Celebrity, christmas, Simon Baker, Tim Burton, Yuletide season
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