Systems of the Stars is a Laptop Mag original series that delves into the systems that superstars own, whether it’s a snazzy laptop, a funky drawing tablet, or a next-gen gaming console.
The sexy fishnet leg lamp, Ralphie’s Pepto Bismol-colored bunny onesie, and the Italian-esque pronunciation of fragile are some of the funniest moments in the iconic holiday-themed film A Christmas Story.
But of course, not every scene evokes laughter — some arouse tension and uneasiness, sending tingles down your spine. Cue Scut Farkus, the villainous red-headed bully who terrorized Ralphie, his brother Randy, and his buddies Flick and Schwartz.
“Say uncle! Say uncle!” Scut demanded, twisting his victims’ arm for no reason other than finding enjoyment in being a cruel, sadistic jerk. “Cry baby, cry!” he’d taunt after his quarries whined in fear. However, in one of the most satisfying moments in the movie, at a time when Ralphie had it up to here with people disparaging his BB gun-owning dreams, Scut caught him at the wrong place and time — and got an ass whoopin’ of a lifetime. Ah, sweet, sweet revenge!
You thought that was the last you’ve seen of Scut, huh? Think again! Farkus is back, folks. Zack Ward, who played Scut when he was just 13 years old, is reprising his role as the unfriendly neighborhood menace nearly 40 years later in HBO Max’s A Christmas Story Christmas. Dun, dun, dun!
I’ve always hated sequels in which the characters we know and love don’t return — but that’s not the case with A Christmas Story Christmas! Ralphie, Randy, Flick, Schwartz, and Scut are back in snowy Indiana as adults (and we get to watch how their colorful childhood affected their lives).
Although A Christmas Story was released 38 years ago, I’m not blowing smoke up Ward’s caboose when I say he doesn’t look much different from his early acting days. Laptop Mag had the opportunity to interview Ward, interrogating him about where he’s hiding the Fountain of Youth as well as his personal relationship with tech as our newest Systems of the Stars feature.
Watch 'A Christmas Story Christmas' on HBO Max: Save 20% on HBO Max annual plans (opens in new tab)
HBO Max plans start as low as $9.99/mo or $99.99 for an annual subscription, but that price is subsidized with the inclusion of commercials. The commercial-free experience costs a little extra at $14.99/mo or $149.99 annually, this tier of subscription also allows you to download up to 30 titles to watch offline and stream applicable titles in 4K.
Zack Ward’s MacBook Air is his anti-aging secret
Go watch A Christmas Story Christmas on HBO Max and you’ll see what I mean. I’m not joking when I say Ward looks spectacular as Scut. When I demanded that he give up his secrets as Ward glowed during our Google Meet call, he shooed me away and joked, “Yeah, er, my ‘secret’’ is this blurry webcam!”
Ward told me that he was using a 2018 MacBook Air to take my call, which sports a 720p FaceTime HD camera. Funnily enough, it’s 2022, and as a laptop reviewer, I’m still seeing laptops with 720p webcams — even after the pandemic increased the demand for videoconferencing.
Ward was simply being tongue-in-cheek, but little did he know that made me reexamine my disdain for most laptop webcams. Is this a “Be careful what you wish for” situation? When the laptop industry does finally make a habit of rolling out decent webcams, will we be longing for the days when our laptops didn’t pick up every single minute detail, including our insecurity-inducing flaws? After putting a pin in this thought, I curiously asked Ward what purpose the MacBook Air currently serves in his life.
“What I do on the [MacBook Air] is a lot of writing ‘cause I write scripts,” he said. “Obviously, I work on the internet, review [video] shots, and communicate with it, too.”
Zack Ward uses an iMac Pro for video-editing wizardry
Sure the MacBook Air can handle Ward’s lightweight workflows, but it would buckle under pressure if the A Christmas Story Christmas actor attempted to put it through his graphics-intensive, CPU-taxing, RAM-heavy, video-editing process.
“I have an iMac Pro, a big flat one, that I use as an editing rig,” Ward told me. The iMac Pro features a stunning 5K Retina display (5120 x 2000-pixel resolution to be precise), supporting one billion colors. It covers a wide range of the DCI-P3 color gamut, pleasing photo and video editors who need to work with a color-accurate panel.
It can be configured with up to an 18-core, 2.3Ghz Intel Xeon W processor and Radeon Pro Vega 64X graphics. In terms of memory, it can be packed with up to 256GB! Yes, this is overkill; 32GB, the minimum amount of RAM found on an iMac Pro, is more than enough to handle app jugglers who love running several editing platforms simultaneously. But hey, having a specced-out iMac Pro gives you a peace of mind that you can push it to the limit without any worry.
As far as storage is concerned, you can pack this baby up with up to a 4TB SSD. When you're working with 6K footage, it's easy to blow through storage like a rockstar with $100,000. A specced-out iMac Pro can set you back more than $13,000!
Ward was also kind enough to delve into the video-editing software platforms he prefers, too. Adobe Premiere Pro was once his go-to, but now he is transitioning into becoming more of a DaVinci Resolve guy.
Keep in mind that Ward, alongside his wife, owns a filmmaking studio in Sun Valley, California called Brilliant Screen Studios. “It’s got three stages, eight, 17-foot-long trucks, lots of cameras and lights, a giant LED wall, Unreal Engine tracking systems, and more,” he said excitedly. “This is a full movie-making facility!” As such, he needs a powerful, beastly editing rig that can handle the higher caliber, 6K content he shoots there.
It's also worth noting that Ward owns an M1 Ultra-based Mac Studio (2022). Sweet!
Zack doesn't feel pressured to get sucked into the Apple ecosystem
So Zack’s a Mac guy, whether he’s surfing the web, writing scripts or editing 6K footage, but what’s his daily driver when it comes to his phone? “He’s probably got an iPhone, obviously!” is likely what you’re thinking.
Zack prefers owning an Android — the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE to be exact (we've reviewed it and it's pretty damn good). Although he has Apple-branded laptops, and his wife owns an iPhone, he has no desire to snag an iOS device.
“But wouldn’t it be easier to transfer your data from your phone to your laptop, and vice versa, if all of your devices are locked inside the Apple ecosystem? What about AirDrop? iCloud?” I asked curiously.
Zack shrugged with an unfazed demeanor. “Nah. If I need to transfer data from my Android to my MacBook, I just use a cable,” he said.
“With your wife owning an iPhone and you being an Android guy, doesn’t the lack of interoperability get to you two?” I asked.
“Not really; My wife’s cool!” Zack said. “Oh, but there is one thing. When we send videos to each other, we need to use WhatsApp due to the compression issues, but other than that, we’re fine.”
When I told him about the controversy Apple has kicked off by singling Android users out as the “green-bubble folks,” causing some Android users to be on the receiving end of bullying, Ward told me that the tormentors need to find better things to do with their lives than fixate on such minute, insignificant details.
The A Christmas Story actor told me that his father is suffering from Alzheimer’s, so from his perspective, and anyone else who has an ailing parent, green bubbles — and the people who scoff at them — don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
“This coming December 17th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., I will be at the A Christmas Story house. I will be signing autographs and taking photos with fans for free. I am raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association. On December 18, in Akron Ohio, there will be a free screening of A Christmas Story Christmas, very charitably donated by HBO and Warner Bros," Ward said.
Both of these events are free, but to boost Alzheimer’s research and awareness, attendees can donate to the cause.
Why Android over iPhone?
Why does Zack prefer Android over iOS? It’s quite simple really — he’s not a fan of how his selfies come out on the iPhone.
The photos bring out the redness in his complexion, which he doesn’t like. Plus, the white balance on the iPhone isn’t his cup of tea, making him look too pale and ghostly for his tastes.
Ward revealed little-known tidbits about ‘A Christmas Story’
As a teenager, Ward originally auditioned for the role of the bully’s sidekick — not the bully. He got the role for it while Yano Anaya (who played Grover Dill) secured the bully role. When A Christmas Story’s director Bob Clark saw Ward and Anaya in person, he felt it didn’t make sense for the sidekick to be the tallest, so he told Ward to swap lines with Anaya. And that’s how Ward became the bully in A Christmas Story.
One thing that always bugged me about the movie is that the narrator Jean Shepherd said that Scut had “yellow eyes, so help me God, yellow eyes!" Meanwhile, as a viewer, it’s clear that Scut’s iris isn’t remotely close to amber, so what gives? Ward told me that A Christmas Story is based on a book authored by Shepherd called, “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” (a collection of semi-autobiographical stories for Playboy in the 1960s). In the book, Scut’s father is dirt poor and works at a local scrapyard, and as a result, he couldn’t afford to feed Scut properly. Consequently, Scut had yellow eyes (i.e., jaundice) because he suffered from vitamin deficiency. Although Ward’s eyes are green, the director decided to stick to the script, likely to dramatize Scut’s snarling, villainous appearance from Ralphie’s perspective.
Another interesting tidbit? Ward told me that many of the scenes in A Christmas Story, particularly inside the Parker home, are deliberately shot from a child’s point-of-view and angle.
Oh, and another thing: Ward told me that “Scut” is Scottish for shite. You learn something new everyday!
Did you know that Ward was in Transformers? Yes, the one with Megan Fox and Shia LaBouef. In fact, if you look at Ward’s IMDB page, your brain will explode with the sheer number of TV shows and movies he’s appeared and/or starred in throughout his characterful life.
However, Ward humbly accepted that A Christmas Story — a timeless classic — is the movie that resonates with people the most. After all, both children and adults adore the movie because they can always find something to relate to, whether it’s the hilarious passive-aggressive relationship between Old Man Parker and Mother Parker, living vicariously through Ralphie as Scut gets his comeuppance, or dealing with an aunt who never seems to get it right when it comes to Christmas gifts.
Still, with Systems of the Stars, it’s our hope that readers don’t just see Ward as the “yellow-eyed, green teeth” bully in a pop culture-entrenched, Christmas-themed film, but as a successful working actor who owns a filmmaking studio and knows his way around tech hardware and software to deliver optimal video footage. On top of that, Ward is a huge proponent of martial arts, enjoying Jiu Jitsu during his free time and practicing self defense with sticks and knives. In other words, don’t sleep on Ward — and don’t mess with him either!