(NEW YORK) — The actor who played the famous yellow-eyed nemesis to Ralphie in the movie, A Christmas Story, says in a lawsuit he’s the one who was bullied in real life by the National Entertainment Collectibles Association.
Zach Ward, who played “Scut Farkus” in the 1983 holiday classic, settled a suit Friday against NECA after claiming the association used his image without permission in a board game based on the film.
Ward says he made just $5,000 for his performance in the movie and sued because he did not want to be pushed around himself.
“They expected me to roll over, suck my thumb and go home and complain and whine about it, but really do nothing and I just couldn’t do that and it just wasn’t right,” Ward said.
The actor says that he did agree to allow NECA to make a 7-inch action figure to be made in the likeness of Farkus, but claims to have never given permission or been paid for the use of his image in a board game.
The movie itself gained popularity and fame on cable television, long after its run in theaters ended. By 1997 it had grown into an American holiday classic on cable television, when the TNT network began airing a 24-hour marathon of the movie on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Millions of Americans watch the film every year to this day, and a Broadway play recently launched in New York City based on the movie. Now, the actor who played perhaps the most famous bully of all time, is taking a cue from Ralphie in the movie and fighting back against NECA.
“It’s not the way you’re supposed to treat people and in my gut it just felt unfair and it was the perfect example of being bullied,” Ward said.
Unlike other actors in the movie, Ward was a member of a Canadian actor’s union and his contract did not provide future merchandising rights.
His lawsuit quotes a series of emails from the movie studio such as one that warned the board game maker: “You can not ship this product without approval from the actor who plays (Scut Farkus).”
But in the suit, Ward claimed NECA continued to manufacture and sell thousands of the board games.
“I had never been told about this,” Ward said. “I had never been informed about it. I had never seen it before and I was shocked, absolutely shocked.”
After settling the lawsuit on Friday, Kent Raygor, the attorney for NECA told ABC News: “During the course of the litigation, NECA admitted that it owed Ward some back royalties based on other Scut Farkus uses in an action figure, and had always offered to pay those to Ward.”
However, Raygor alleges NECA always had properly obtained rights to the board game and says Ward has grown up to become a “professional plaintiff.”
In regards to the current suit, he issued a statement scathing rebuke to ABC News about the real-life actor who played the bully.
“This has been a long, exceedingly silly case by a plaintiff who had a bit role as a 13-year-old in the well-known 1983 film,” Raygor said. “Ward sued NECA over a barely visible 3/8″ x 3/8” blurred image of part of the ‘Scut Farkus’ character’s face on the back of a 2006 A Christmas Story board game. In that image, the Scut Farkus character is hardly recognizable. Any argument that a consumer would have bought that game just because of that tiny image on the back of the box was just wishful thinking.”
Still, Raygor says NECA and Ward reached a confidential settlement of which he was barred from disclosing the financial terms. Raygor said the lawsuit was dropped following the settlement.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Brett Crandall, BYU-Idaho Media Relations
Chandrika Narayan, CNN
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com