Get ready to start sh*tting bricks ... oops, sorry ... sh*tting rocks.
It’s been more than three decades since “Christmas Vacation” debuted and gave us one of the hap-hap-happiest holiday movies ever. Since that time, many of the actors went on to have huge Hollywood careers, including “Big Bang Theory” star Johnny Galecki and Academy Award nominee Juliette Lewis. But, going against the grain like Eddie’s family normally does, one actress from the film actually stayed away from the spotlight.
That person is Ellen Hamilton Latzen, aka Ruby Sue, aka the girl who stops you from seeing boobs (her words). Here’s Ruby Sue, then and now:
Despite it being more than 30 years since the movie’s release, Latzen still pretty much looks like the same innocent girl who got her eyes crossed after falling in a well and got them uncrossed after being kicked by a mule.
The actress told HuffPost in 2015 that she quit acting after attending a Vermont boarding school. She said that by the time of graduation, she had been out of the industry for four years and had to decide if it was worth it to come back.
“It would’ve been a lot of effort to get back into it, and I wasn’t really ready to do that. And even though I loved acting and was passionate about it, at that point, I really wanted to be another person, and I decided to walk away,” Latzen explained.
Latzen previously chatted with HuffPost in honor of the 26th anniversary of “Christmas Vacation,” revealing what she’s been up to and sharing behind-the-scenes secrets that’ll make you all the jolliest bunch of a**holes this side of the nuthouse.
It's been 26 years since "Christmas Vacation," do fans still recognize you?
My face hasn't changed, but I think people have a hard time because I was a kid then, and I'm an adult now. I think that when people see me and they say, "Oh, you look so familiar," they can’t really place it because in their mind they’re seeing the child and not the consideration that it was 26 years ago and I would be an adult now.
Every once in a while, I get somebody that says, "You were the girl in 'Fatal Attraction' and 'Christmas Vacation,'" and I say, "Wow, you're amazing. How did you recognize me?"
(Latzen and the new Snots?)
Did they ever ask you to cross your eyes?
No, I don't think they did. I think it was just one of those things.
What do you remember about filming your opening scene?
It was just like everything else, it was great. The ensemble cast, they were always so much fun to work with, and I remember being really excited about starting out in the RV because I thought it was fun, like a big camper.
What was it actually like in the RV?
I think it was pretty dirty in there. I think it was probably pretty indicative of what it would’ve looked like had the audience been able to go look inside the trailer.
You wore a wig in the movie, right?
I did wear a wig, a super itchy wig. I'll preface this by saying my mother will be very pissed off when she hears me say this -- it is something that we’ve argued over for 26 years -- but I had a mullet when I was a kid, and I guess that look wasn't what they were going for.
[Laugh] Cool, I had a mullet, too.
I figured. I don't feel so bad.
What was it like working with Chevy Chase?
I enjoyed the experience of working with him by myself, and it was intimate. He was my uncle, and I was getting to know him. I mean, it’s funny when you watch the movie. So many people get pissed off at me because I stopped them from seeing boobs because it's like right at the point where Mary’s coming out of the water, and you’re about to see her tits, and I say, "Santi Claus!" instead. But it was awesome.
You say "shit" in the kitchen scene, too. Was that a big deal saying it as a little kid?
Totally! I mean, I learned how to swear from my parents. There was definite swearing when I was growing up, although it was frowned upon for me at age 8 or 9 or whatever, but I dug it. And it’s funny because in "Fatal Attraction," I say shit as well, so reading the script for "Christmas Vacation" and realizing that I was going to be able to say shit a couple times, I was like, "Oh yeah! This is awesome."
You think you were being typecast for characters who say shit?
[Laugh] It could be. I don't know. I never thought about it. That’s a good question.
Yeah, that's what I'd do 'cause you nailed it.
What's your favorite cast story?
I mean, honestly, I really enjoyed the Christmas dinner.
I remember sitting at the end of the table that was the kids section with Cody [Burger] and Juliette [Lewis] and Johnny Galecki, who I had a massive crush on -- a huge crush on Johnny Galecki -- and I remember having little marshmallow fights with him and always trying to get his attention. But I remember that being fun because it was a real family element. It was always nice to be together.
Have you said the "Pledge of Allegiance" at dinner since?
I think that was the last time [Laugh].
What was it like running around the house from the squirrel?
Oh, it was a ton of fun for me because I was a kid and had a ton of energy, and the fact that we were running around, and it was so high intensity, it sort of matched my energy level. There are parts where I'm screaming ... Actually there’s a part where it’s suggested he’s going to catch it in a coat and smack it with a hammer, and you hear this -- I mean maybe only dogs can hear it because it was so high -- but you can hear this high-pitched scream, and that was me.
What's the line fans quote to you the most?
Oh, "shitting bricks" by far. How could you not? It's such a classic line. I know that that was a saying prior to my saying it in "Christmas Vacation," but I think that now it sort of solidified itself in culture. I wonder whether or not when people are saying it if they are referencing "Christmas Vacation," or they're saying it because it was a preexisting term.
That's kind of like what Drake does. He gets a term that’s around, and he says it, and it blows up, so I guess you were like the first Drake.
[Laugh] Thanks. I'll take that as a compliment.
Definitely. Drake's the best.
What are you up to nowadays?
I’m working on a podcast [WatchedPodcast] about the child acting industry. Basically, I want to talk to child actors past and present and casting directors and friends and parents and child psychologists and anybody that has a perspective on this matter because I want to create a well-rounded viewpoint of the industry.
I don’t think people really give a lot credence to kids and they don’t really understand what some of the struggles are that myself and my peers have gone through being a child actor, and it’s really heavy stuff. I want to be an advocate for child actors now.
Do people ever send you Jelly of the Month Club coupons or anything?
No, not yet.
That’s bullshit, right?
If not that, what’s the most rewarding thing about being in the movie?
Honestly, it’s the reaction that I get. I get such amazing compliments and words of thanks and appreciation from so many people that I meet across the board. [...] The thing I get the most is, “Oh my God! My family watches it every year, and thanks for being a part of that,” and that’s so touching to me.
Well, there’s just one thing left to say ...
This story was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.