'The Ranch' Alum Jim Beaver Talks 'It's a Wonderful Life' Table Read, 'Ultimate Message' of Iconic Christmas Movie (Exclusive)

On Sunday night, a group of well-known and beloved actors will gather for a live table of It's a Wonderful Life, the iconic Christmas movie starring James Stewart. The Ranch alum Jim Beaver will be part of the group, taking on the role of Bert the Cop  — originally played by actor Ward Bond in the 1946 film — as well as a few other minor speaking parts. Ahead of the big Ed Asner Family Center charity event, PopCulture.com sat down with Beaver to chat about the holiday film and its "ultimate message."

During our conversation, Beaver admitted that, in his later viewings of It's a Wonderful Life, he sees it as being "a lot darker than people think," but doesn't believe those dark elements are necessarily the point of the story. "I think the ultimate message is the one everybody feels when they watch it," he said. "The very rewarding feeling that when push comes to shove, your friends and neighbors will have your back if you've been a good guy. And that's the vital message." Beaver later added, "It is a feel-good movie. I mean, the end of the movie, there's no way around, if you've got any kind of heart at all, feeling pretty wonderful. And I believe that is its ultimate purpose, is to reassure us that we have each others' backs."

The actor went on to say, "I think most of us who find ourselves in trouble will have friends gather around to support us. Whether they'll show up in such numbers as to save us from the bank examiner, I don't know. It's lovely to think so. And, I think, thinking so about a movie with a slight fantasy aspect to it like this, encourages us to be that kind of people. And that's where It's a Wonderful Life, I think, has its greatest value. It doesn't so much make us want to be like George Bailey himself. It makes us want to be like the people who gather around to help him in the end."

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In addition to Beaver, the live table read for It's a Wonderful Life will also feature Christina Applegate, Brendan Fraser, Seth Rogen, James Cromwell, Sue Ann Pien, Fred Armisen, JK Simmons, Jean Smart, Ken Jeong, Jim Beaver, Brent Spiner, Phil Lamarr, Chelsea Darnell, and Ben Mankiewicz. Additionally, the event will be hosted by Tom Bergeron, with Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann also being present as honorees for their work with The Ed Asner Family Center. The big table read kicks off Sunday night at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET. Click here to get tickets, and stay tuned to Pop Culture.com for more of our illuminating conversation with Beaver!