Juliette Lewis tears up looking back on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation : 'It's so touching'

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Juliette Lewis had no idea National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation would become such a beaut — a beaut! — of a holiday classic.

During Wednesday's episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show, the Yellowjackets star got choked up while looking back at her time in one of her earliest roles as a teenage Audrey Griswold in the 1989 slapstick movie, which followed Griswold patriarch Clark's (Chevy Chase) ill-fated attempts to have the perfect Christmas with his family.

"I know that you've talked about this a billion times, but my family will actually kill me if I don't bring it up: I know people have to always ask you about Christmas Vacation, but I love this movie," host Kelly Clarkson began. Lewis replied, "How can I be mad at that?" When Clarkson asked if she knew the film would become so beloved, Lewis said she "did not" and teared up at how "touching" the reception has been.

"You know, I'm midlife, so I'm going through many important emotional transitional things, seizing beautiful — learning how to appreciate what you have," Lewis said. "And so I get really — I'm going to cry. Christmas Vacation is so, it's so touching that every year — I was just 15. Sorry, I didn't mean to cry."

Lewis has been told by viewers that she's a part of their family, she said. "People who have lost their parents, or whatever, what it meant to the. It's a tradition. And so what I'm saying is no, you can never imagine that is ever going to happen in a film you do." Chase was "really supportive," Lewis said, as was Johnny Galecki, who played her brother Russell.

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION, Johnny Galecki, Beverly D'Angelo, Chevy Chase, Juliette Lewis, 1989
NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION, Johnny Galecki, Beverly D'Angelo, Chevy Chase, Juliette Lewis, 1989

Everett Collection 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation'

Though Lewis played Audrey in the third iteration of the franchise, Dana Barron and Dana Hill portrayed the teen in the first two films (1983's National Lampoon's Vacation and 1985's National Lampoon's European Vacation), while Marisol Nichols played Audrey in 1997's Vegas Vacation and Leslie Mann in 2015's Vacation.

In 2019, Lewis reunited with Chase, Galecki, Beverly D'Angelo, and Diane Ladd for a Q&A hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in celebration of the movie's 30th anniversary. There, her former costars praised her performance at just 15. Ladd called Lewis "one of the great young actresses in this country" and said, "She was young and so sensitive and she dealt with all our craziness."

"Everybody knew she had it," D'Angelo added. "[They'd go] 'Oh that Juliette, though. That Juliette.' She's got it."

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