20 Fun Facts About the Movie 'Elf' That Make Us Love the Film Even More

Bethany Quinn | Nov 2, 2018 Movies
20 Fun Facts About the Movie 'Elf' That Make Us Love the Film Even More

Will Ferrell in Elf
Warner Home Video

It has been 15 years since the movie Elf debuted in theaters and subsequently stole our hearts. Who would have thought that a grown man in tights playing one of Santa's elves would make for such a hit? But it did, and even all these years later, the movie is loved and adored by audiences everywhere -- not to mention it's freaking hilarious! It became an instant classic from the moment it was released, which is not an easy thing to do as far as Christmas movies go. But Elf is just one of those films that we have to watch every time it's on -- especially around the holidays. It still makes us laugh and cheer and sing out loud for all to hear!

The film stars Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf, and the rest of star-studded cast includes Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, and Peter Dinklage. There are so many memorable scenes -- and so many memorable lines ("I love smiling. Smiling's my favorite!") -- but there are also tons of things about the movie that even the most avid fan might not know.

For instance, forced perspective was used, instead of CGI, to make Ferrell's character, Buddy the Elf, look so much larger than the other elves at the North Pole. And, in the scene where Buddy gets attacked by a raccoon in Central Park, the raccoon is actually making monkey noises, not raccoon ones.

(Crazy, right?)

There are also a ton of other lesser-known facts about the film that we have listed here, 20 of them to be exact. Some of these are pretty surprising!

  • Jim Carrey Was Supposed to Be Buddy the Elf

    Jim Carrey
    Bauer-Griffin/Splash News

    The concept of the film was originally pitched in 1993, with Carrey attached to the lead role. But the film took over 10 years to be made, and he was eventually replaced with Will Ferrell. Carrey went on to star in two other Christmas films: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Christmas Carol.

  • Will Ferrell Was Born for the Role


    Will actually worked as a mall Santa long before his career took off. And guess what? Chris Kattan was his elf! Now that's a movie we would have loved to see!

  • Ralphie From 'A Christmas Story' Makes a Cameo


    Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story, makes a cameo as Ming Ming the elf. While he is not too recognizable at first, once people realize who he is, it's hard to miss him!

  • Director Jon Favreau Makes a Cameo


    Any Elf fan knows that Favreau plays the doctor that administers Buddy's DNA test. But he also voiced the character of the narwhal. Favreau spoke about his voiceover cameo in an interview with ABC. "What I'm more proud of actually is the narwhal when it comes up out of the water, when Buddy's leaving the North Pole, that's my voice: 'Bye, Buddy. Hope you find your dad,'" he said. "That's probably my most famous role of anything I've ever done because that's the one that's on T-shirts and sweaters."

  • Will Ferrell Turned Down a $29 Million Offer for a Sequel!


    "I just think it would look slightly pathetic if I tried to squeeze back in the elf tights: Buddy the middle-aged elf," Will Ferrell explained to USA Today about turning down the role.

    Makes sense ...

  • Will Ferrell Really Isn't Eating Cotton Balls


    They are actually pieces of cotton candy that hadn't been dyed.


  • But He Did Get Sick Eating Other Stuff


    Will Ferrell actually got quite sick due to all the sweets he had to consume while filming. (Remember the spaghetti with syrup? Gross!) Ferrell complained of trouble sleeping and headaches because of all the sugar.

    "That was tough. I ingested a lot of sugar in this movie and I didn't get a lot of sleep. I constantly stayed up," the Hollywood actor once revealed about eating too much. "But anything for the movie, I'm there. If it takes eating a lot of maple syrup, then I will -- if that's what the job calls for."

  • The Film Paid Homage to Christmas Movies From the Past


    "We used stop-motion animation like 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,' which was a big influence for us," director Favreau once told ABC News about Elf paying homage to past films. "So when you watch it, it doesn't feel like it ages the same way that a film that has a lot of digital effects does."

    This is probably why the film was such a hit. It reminded us of Christmas films from the past that we love so much!

  • Will Improvised ... A Lot


    This film looked just as fun to make as it is to watch. "I never really asked Will to do anything specifically," Elf director Favreau once explained about Will Ferrell's improv skills throughout the movie. "He would always come up with a really exciting choice. He has very good instincts, especially with physical comedy."

  • The Scenes Where Buddy Is Exploring NYC Were Filmed Last


    "The last day of shooting in New York, we just took cameras," the Elf director revealed about shooting Will's adventures in New York City.

    "We didn't even have the director of photography. We just took a cameraman and a film loader and some PAs and went around the city in a van, jumped out and threw people some money and got to use all different locations ... with all real people around him [Ferrell]. I put him in those situations and he had to improvise and stay in character while dealing with people who, for the most part, didn't even know they were in a movie."

  • Shooting the Film Caused Traffic Accidents


    Hopefully, onlookers in the Lincoln Tunnel had good car insurance!

    Word is, people seeing Will dressed up in his costume caused (minor) traffic accidents inside the tunnel while shooting the movie. (Yikes!)

  • Some of the Scenes Were Filmed in an Abandoned Mental Hospital


    Gimbel's toy department, Walter's (Buddy's dad) apartment, and the prison cell, were all filmed in the former hospital.

    Who knew?!

  • Those Jack-in-the-Boxes Really Scared Will


    As it turns out, Will Ferrell's reactions to the jack-in-the-boxes were totally authentic! Director Favreau was able to control them via remote control to give the funnyman a real scare.

  • That Long Burp Was Real, but Didn't Come From Will


    Maurice LaMarche, who voiced Brain in Pinky and the Brain, is responsible for that crazy belch. "I've always been able to do this weird effect, where I turn my tongue, not inside out, but almost," he revealed about the popular belch scene.

    "I create a huge echo chamber with my tongue and my cheeks, and by doing a deep, almost Tuvan rasp in my throat, and bouncing it around off this echo chamber, I create something that sounds very much like a sustained deep burp."

  • Macy's Wasn't Into the Fake Santa Thing


    "Macy's was willing to let us shoot there, use their Santaland, even incorporate us into the parade ... However ... we would have had to remove the Artie Lange scene, where Santa is revealed to be a fake, because their Santa has to be real," Favreau told Rolling Stone about Macy's Santa demands.

    Ultimately, the Elf crew felt that that scene was too funny to be cut and opted to cut ties with Macy's  -- and we are so happy that they did as that is one of the funniest scenes in the film.

  • The Fight Between Will Ferrell & Artie Lange Was a One-Shot Deal


    Speaking of scenes, it turns out Will Ferrell and Artie Lange only had one chance to get their fight scene right as the set -- which included a Lego city-scape, Lite Brite displays, and a miniature train setup -- took hours for the film's art department to create. "They have to smash the whole [thing] -- so we don't really have a lot of resets," Favreau told ABC News. "We shot right up until we destroy the place," Lange added.

  • The Original Baby Buddy Couldn't Cut It


    Sooo, this one is less of a "fun" fact as it is just a tidbit about the movie.

    Twin boys with blond curly hair were cast as the original baby Buddy ... but they weren't too happy once it came time to shoot and they cried nonstop. They had to be recast with triplet girls who were much more happy on set.

    (Yup, even baby actors get fired.)
  • Even James Caan Wasn't Immune to Will's Antics


    James Caan is an Oscar-nominated actor known for his impeccable portrayal of some gritty and dramatic characters. He understood he was the straight man to Ferrell's over-the-top elf, but even he couldn't keep it together all the time. In the scene at the doctor's office, where Buddy is getting pricked by the needle, Caan can be seen turning away from the camera -- because he was cracking up.

    We wonder how many times that happened?!

  • 'Baby It's Cold Outside' Was a Last-Minute Addition


    The director of Elf had no idea that Zooey Deschanel could sing, but quickly made the most of her fabulous voice when he found out.

    "When I realized that she had such a wonderful singing voice, we wrote that whole sequence in," Favreau once said of the musical addition to the movie. "The purity of her singing, I thought, was really nice."

  • The Movie Was Turned Into a Hit Musical


    Elf: The Musical ran on Broadway for just over a year. It produced hit songs, such as "World's Greatest Dad," "Nobody Cares About Santa," and "The Story of Buddy The Elf."

    In fact, it's so popular that national tours are still taking place across the country!


More Slideshows