17 fun facts about Will Ferrell’s party favorite

Will Ferrell as pal with Ed Asner as Santa in 2003’s Elf. (Alamy)

As far as Christmas movies go, it takes a hard-hearted creature not to have the slightest whiff of affection for Jon Favreau’s 2003 Elf classic.

Like those great festive movies of yore, it’s jam-packed with old-fashioned Christmas cheer as Buddy, Will Ferrell’s super-enthusiastic Santa’s helper, sets out to find his real dad after being raised by elves at the North Pole.

Alongside veterans like James Caan, Bob Newhart and Ed Asner (and with a breakout role for Zooey Deschanel), Buddy’s love of Christmas is utterly contagious.

Read more: The best Christmas movies of the 21st century

To celebrate, here are 17 things you probably didn’t know about Elf.

1 | It could have been Jim Carrey

American actor Jim Carrey arrives for the world premiere of his latest film 'A Christmas Carol'.  in Leicester Square in London on November 3, 2009. AFP Photo/ Max NASH (Photo credit should read MAX NASH/AFP via Getty Images)

Jim Carrey arrives for the world premiere of A Christmas Carol in 2009. (AFP via Getty Images)

Because screenwriter David Berenbaum had been developing the script since 1993, Will Ferrell was not the first actor to play the role of Buddy. Jim Carrey approached the most, but turned it down to do Ace Ventura, the film that would make his name.

2 | The Incredible Vocal Cameo

In the scene where Buddy says goodbye to an array of stop-motion creatures, the polar bear club is voiced by none other than animation legend Ray Harryhausen (director Favreau voiced the narwhal). Favreau snagged Harryhausen while at a speaking engagement, at which he picked up a contract and a DAT player to record his line.

3 | The first babies were wild

The baby playing Baby Buddy was actually triplets. They had a set of twins, who apparently looked like Ferrell with curly blonde hair, but they kept crying during takes, so they were eventually replaced.

Read more: Will Ferrell reacts to Asda’s Elf ad

4 | Classic Elf Outfits

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER -- Pictured: (lr) Front Row: Hermey, Rudolph, Head Elf, Yukon Cornelius, Sam the Snowman, Santa (Photo by NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images )

Hermey, Rudolph, Head Elf, Yukon Cornelius, Sam the Snowman, Santa Claus in Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. (NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

The elves’ outfits were modeled after those in “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (seen above), an American stop-motion television special that has been repeated annually in the United States since 1964.

5 | Ferrell turned down a MASSIVE paycheck for Elf 2

Will Ferrell reportedly turned down $29 million to star in Elf 2. “That’s what was offered,” he told the Guardian. “But I killed the idea of ​​a sequel. I never liked it – $29 million seems like a lot of money for a guy to wear tights, but that’s what the market will bear.

“It’s insane, but it’s not my decision. The studios perpetuate it and they have a hard time saying no. I remember thinking: can I stand up to criticism when it’s bad and they say β€œHe did the sequel for the money?” I decided I wouldn’t be able to.

6 | The Discworld Niche Benchmark

When Buddy says his favorite color is “Ocatrine”, it’s a reference to Terry Pratchett’s famous Discworld series of novels, most notably The Color of Magic.

Read more: Is Elf the most overrated Christmas movie?

7 | Ferrell kept it in the family

Will Ferrell’s brother, Patrick, plays one of the Empire State Building’s security guards.

8 | Zwigoff got bogged down

Ghost World director Terry Zwigoff was offered the film, but he pulled it off. But he went on to make another top Christmas movie, Bad Santa.

9 | Another nod to the classics

Peter Billingsley watches Will Ferrell's pal in Elf.  (Alamy)

Peter Billingsley watches Will Ferrell’s pal in Elf. (Alamy)

Peter Billingsley, who as a child actor starred as Ralphie in another festive classic A Christmas Story, appears in an uncredited role as the supervising elf in Santa’s workshop.

10 | tunnel vision

WILL FERRELL, ELF, 2003

Will Ferrell’s Buddy is a fish out of water in New York City. (Alamy)

Ferrell caused several minor road accidents during his ride through the Lincoln Tunnel, with many seeing the actor in an elf costume and looking away from the road.

11 | Jack in the box shock

When Buddy is testing jack-in-the-boxes at the North Pole, one of his many menial tasks, Jon Favreau wanted the final shock on camera to be authentic, so controlled the box with an off-screen remote device so that Ferrell may I don’t know when he was about to open up.

12 | sugar daddy

Will Ferrell as Buddy in Elf.  (Alamy)

Will Ferrell as Buddy in Elf. (Alamy)

The sugar that Ferrell had to consume in the film did not suit him at all. He suffered from severe headaches throughout filming and often insomnia at night.

13 | No CGI for elves

ELF 2003 New Line Cinema film with Will Ferrell Buddy the Elf

Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf just sits closer to the camera. (Alamy)

Rather than using CGI or dwarf actors, Favreau instead opted for the old cinematic technique of “forced perspective”, constructing two sets – one for the full-size actors who were full-size and one who was a lot smaller for Ferrell. With intelligent use of lighting, the sets are then merged.

14 | Caan on old Joanna

In the last moments of the film, it is really James Caan who plays Auld Lang Syne on the piano. It is versatile.

Read more: James Caan Says Ferrell/Favreau Tension Killed Elf 2

15 | Santa’s list is real

When Santa Claus shows Michael his “good list”, it is made up of the names of the film crew and what they wanted for Christmas.

16 | The art imitated by life

Will Ferrell and Faizon Love in Elf.  (Alamy)

Will Ferrell and Faizon Love in Elf. (Alamy)

Will Ferrell actually once worked as a Santa Claus at a mall when he was part of the famous Los Angeles-based improv band The Groundlings. One of his elves was Chris Kattan, who was also on the Saturday Night Live crew with Ferrell.

17 | The burp

The massive burp, after Buddy drank a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola, was performed by Maurice LaMarche, a voice actor for cartoons like Animaniacs and Futurama. He also played Egon in The Real Ghostbusters.

He says he’s burped like this since he was a kid, especially on Animaniacs. A crew member on Elf recalled his wind talents on the cartoon show, and the rest is gassy history. Ferrell lip-synced accordingly.

Watch: Will Ferrell responds to Asda’s Elf ad

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