Natchez actor in Lifetime movie Thanksgiving night

Published 5:39 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2018


NATCHEZ — A Natchez film actor will appear in a Lifetime channel movie at 7 tonight in the first showing of the Lifetime original movie “The Christmas Contract.”

Ritchie Montgomery of Natchez has more than 155 film acting credits to his on-screen career including “Blaze,” directed by Ethan Hawk in 2018; the Netflix series “Ozark” in 2017 and “Heart, Baby” — a feature film that opened in theaters last year.

Email newsletter signup

Montgomery said he started shooting “The Christmas Contract” last June in Lafayette, Louisiana, after he was brought on set by the executive producer, Daniel Lewis.

“It was hot, hot in Lafayette,” Montgomery said. “We got to experience the joy of Christmas, even with the mosquitoes.”

“The Christmas Contract” features several laughs and maybe a few tears, Montgomery said, and reunites cast members from the “One Tree Hill” series that aired in 2003, including Hilarie Burton, Robert Buckley and Tyler Hilton.

In the film, Montgomery takes on the dual role as a city official acting as a Cajun Santa Claus for the children.

Montgomery said his character, Rocky, works to put on a Christmas celebration for 30 years, beginning with growing out a real-life Santa Claus beard.

“It’s a wonderful little story,” he said. “My favorite scene is when I get to read the Cajun ‘Night Before Christmas’ for all of the little kids. … There was one little kid that got upset because he didn’t get to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what he wanted for Christmas.”

Montgomery said several children gathered around him to hear him read the story, but only got to hear a few pages of it several times while the camera was rolling through different takes.

“I made sure to read the whole book to them after they finished shooting the scene,” he said. “Several wanted to hear how the story ended. … They think I’m Santa Claus — just hanging on every word I say.”

Montgomery said the film was not his first experience playing Santa. He recently put on the suit in the action movie, “Santa Jaws” and proudly filled the role for the Natchez Santa Claus Committee in Natchez in 2010.

Montgomery said he hopes locals will tune in and watch one of his latest performances.

“After you have your turkey, loosen your belt and bring in your kids … and tune in to ‘The Christmas Contract,’” he said.