If you asked Samuel Johnson whether he would be interested in writing a Christmas book a couple of years ago, he would have scoffed at the idea. Now, he’s published one of the most sought-after Christmas books to hit shelves this year.
Australian actor, Philanthropist and brother to the late Connie Johnson, samuel johnson joined Jase and PJ to chat about his new inspirational fundraising project, ‘Dear Santa’.
The Order of Australia Medalist has gathered together a collection of letters to Santa from some of Australia’s most notorious and recognised grown-ups.
Featuring letters by Adam Hills, Shannon Noll, Leigh Sales, Missy Higgins, Molly Meldrum, Grant Denyer, Shawn Micallef, Brian Mannix, Helen Garner, Deborah Mailman, Samuel himself, his sister Hilde and many more, every sale of the book contributes to cancer research.
“We’ve got issues, bro” Sam said. “We were trying to have more fun around the office and this idea came up to write a letter to Santa so I wrote one, and I started road testing it. A few of my celeb mates were like ‘I’d write one'”.
This prompted the 40-year-old to contact a publisher who commissioned it within 24 hours.
“I said, listen, we’ve already got so many [celebrity] names in the bag,” he told them. “I’d only written my one, and they gave me a two week deadline!”
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Thank you from the heart of my bottom to our contributors for your letter readings at our launch, and to the exquisite Myf Warhurst for hosting us, and the grotty Brian Mannix for reading on behalf of Santa, who had a crook back (hangover), and couldn't make it, despite RSVPing. Don't worry Santa, Brian was exactly like you anyway. xsammy Link in profile if you want a copy.
Dear Santa is a project “straight out of the Connie Johnson textbook” but even Sam believes his late sister wouldn’t have been able to come up with an idea this good.
“She would have wanted us to celebrate Christmas, and to have fun and celebrate family but this is an incredible concept. She would have loved it from the start and thrown her weight behind it,” he told Jase and PJ.
After curating the letters, Sam instantly knew which one would have been his sister Connie’s favourite.
“It would either be Missy Higgins or Grant Denyer.”
While Connie was more of a “sweet soul, a softie” and would have loved the sensitive, heartfelt letters, Sam admits to being more of a pessimist.
“I like the cynical ones. I like the ones that say things like, ‘I’d rather accellerate myself into the holiday road toll than keep putting up with your piss-weak antics, Santa.'”
Sam revealed that his submission is super grotty, based on the fact that he’s been on the “naughty list forever and it’s his [Santa’s] fault anyway”.
Although Santa letters are stereotypically a ‘children’s’ activity, Sam reiterates that this book is definitely not for the kids.
“This is an adult book. Don’t just hand it to the kids to keep them busy.”
In his moving interview with Jase and PJ, the co-founder of the Love Your Sister foundation also revealed that Australia’s perception of him changed rapidly following Connie’s diagnosis. He went from being treated like a “thug” to an “angel” but reassures the country that despite his achievements, he is still a “grotty mongrel”.
“I do mean well and I do try hard but I get too much praise… I’m a bloke who tries to do good things but I’m also a bloke who does things badly.”
So, what’s next for Samuel Johnson?
“I’m gonna do what Connie sent me off doing in the first place,” he explained. “I’ve got a caravan and a motorhome and I’m doing another lap around Australia next year… I’m going to do a lap of honour for her to say thank you for everyone who helped Connie realise her dream to be there for when that $10 million lands.”
This comes four years after the actor travelled 15,955 kilometres over 364 days on a unicycle around Australia, where he raised a whopping $1.75 for cancer research and broke the world record for the longest unicycle journey.
Dear Santa is available to purchase here. All contributors have donated their work and every sale of the book contributes to cancer research.