Why Johnny Galecki Says the ‘Christmas Vacation’ Cast and Crew Bonded ‘Real Fast’

The popular film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one many love to watch during the holiday season. For those who haven’t seen it (or seen it in a while), you may have forgotten that The Big Bang Theory actor Johnny Galecki stars in it. Discover what Galecki said about working on the movie.

Johnny Galecki starred in ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’

Johnny Galecki attends The 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards on January 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California.
Johnny Galecki attends The 23rd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards on January 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards

Galecki portrayed Rusty Griswold in the 1989 film. At the time, he was just a teenager getting his start in show business. “This was such a seminal part of my career, and understanding of comedy and life in general,” the actor told Rolling Stone. “I remember practically every day.”

Because he was so young, many people don’t recognize Galecki from the film. “What’s even funnier is that people that I’ve known for 10, 15 years still to this day say to me, ‘Oh my god, you’re in Christmas Vacation?'” said Galecki. “There’s a big difference between 14 and 39. I’m able to look at it with very grateful eyes.”

The movie is set in Chicago, but they didn’t film there

RELATED: ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ Wasn’t Filmed in Chicago or in the Winter

Though set in writer John Hughes’ home city of Chicago, much of Christmas Vacation was shot in Los Angeles. But they started in another location to try and capture the wintertime feel. We went away for 10 days to Breckenridge, Colorado because at that time of year they traditionally had the biggest snowfall,” director Jeremiah S. Chechik said.

This was early in production. “We show up — and there is no snow,” Chechik continued. After hiring trucks to bring in snow in order to film, the skies opened up. “It snowed something like 10 feet in three days,” the director explained. “It became near impossible to actually shoot because there was so much snow.”

Galecki says the scenes in Colorado brought them together

The scenes shot in Colorado are the outdoor ones, such as the one where the Griswolds pick out their Christmas tree and the one where Chevy Chase’s Clark greases up a sled and goes flying down a huge hill into traffic. And not only was there a lot of time spent out in the cold, but there was another complication.

“Breckenridge was at an altitude none of us were used to, so we were panting while tying our shoes,” explained Galecki of the climate. “It was cold even for a Chicago city kid up there, but that bonds the cast and crew real fast because it’s like, no matter what my face hurts too. We’re in this together.”

Chevy Chase on his young ‘Christmas Vacation’ co-star

(L-R) Johnny Galecki and Chevy Chase attend the 30th Anniversary Screening of 'National Lampoons Christmas Vacation' on December 12, 2019.
(L-R) Johnny Galecki and Chevy Chase attend the 30th Anniversary Screening of ‘National Lampoons Christmas Vacation’ on December 12, 2019. | Jean Baptiste Lacroix/Getty Images

Galecki said it was “a dream come true” just to read with Chase in his audition. “I didn’t dare to dream to be in a big studio film,” he explained. “But I put myself on tape and sent it in. They flew me out to Los Angeles; it was one of the first times I was ever here.” After he finished, “Chevy told me right there in the room that I had gotten the role.”

Chase liked the young actor for his “nervousness.” “Galecki was just an odd kid,” he said. “He was very young and so dry. He made me laugh because he has this wack of a sense of humor and that’s what made me really want him. He wasn’t a Hollywood kid who was going for laughs,” Chase added, “His comic gifts are absolutely incredible.”