Hollywood star Tom Hanks has bad memories of the first time he played Santa Claus, as a 20-year-old children's entertainer in a department store.

The OSCAR winner plays an animated Father Christmas in his next film Polar EXPRESS - which hits movie theatres in time for this yuletide (04).

Hanks says of his first Santa experience, "Like most aspiring actors, I would do anything to earn a few bucks and when I was offered the part of Santa in a local department store, I jumped at the chance.

"It was the hardest acting job of my life - being nice to a lot of unruly children. I had to be cheery old Santa, since I was 20 years old and as thin as a rake.

"I had a cushion stuffed down my uniform to make me look fat.

"After two weeks I was bored witless."

25/11/2004 13:40