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20 Surprisingly Fun Facts About Elf the Movie

OMG! Do you know these awesome Elf movie facts???

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:  December 16th 2022

Elf is one of those movies that's always on our Christmas watch list - it's hilarious, and it's also kind of heartwarming! Dive into these fun facts about the making of the movie and learn something new - do you know who voices Mr Narwhal? Or what those cotton balls are really made of? Find out here! Then check out some more Christmassy movie goodness - try our Home Alone facts, or find out if you're a Buddy or a Grinch!

1. Jim Carrey was almost cast

According to rumours comedy actor Jim Carrey was seriously considered to play Buddy. He was already a comedy Christmas icon having just played the Grinch - we wonder what his version of Buddy would have been like?

2. Will Ferrell actually worked as a mall Santa

Will Ferrell had already gained some Christmas experience, playing a mall Santa before he hit the big time as an actor!

3. It was in development for a very long time

The first idea for Elf came about in 1993, so it was around ten years before the film actually hit the screen. That's a very long time for Hollywood, by the way!

4. There is some serious musical talent in the cast

Elf | New Line Cinema | Jon Berg, Todd Komamicki, Shauna Robertson | Jon Favreau

Zooey Deschanel, who plays Jovie, is a talented singer and even has her own indie band. Director Jon Favreau added her singing scene at the last moment to let her show off her voice. James Caan, who play's Buddy's real dad Walter, also shows off his piano skills at the end of the movie.

5. It has a different title in Germany

The German title of the film is "Buddy - Der Weihnachtself" ("Buddy the Christmas Elf") - probably because in German, the word "elf" on its own means "eleven"!

6. The director makes some cameos

Elf | New Line Cinema | Jon Berg, Todd Komamicki, Shauna Robertson | Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau makes two appearances in the film, as the doctor who confirms that Buddy is Walter's son, and as the voice of Mr. Narwhal! His son also plays the young Buddy sitting on Papa's knee.

7. It wasn't all shot in New York

Though the film is set in New York parts of it were shot in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver is often used in the film and TV industry as a double for New York City, as it looks similar and is a lot cheaper to shoot in!

8. Will Ferrell actually ate that sugar monstrosity

Elf | New Line Cinema | Jon Berg, Todd Komamicki, Shauna Robertson | Jon Favreau

Yep, he really ate that spaghetti-syrup beast Buddy makes. It needed a few takes because the first made him sick! In fact, Will Ferrell ate so much sugar while making this film that it gave him headaches and trouble sleeping. That's why you shouldn't eat too many sweets in one go!

9. The Santa fight had to be done in one take

The department store set took so long to dress that the scene where Buddy and Santa get into a fight had to be done in only one take. It was also too dangerous to have the children in the scene for this, so they were CGI'd in!

10. Gimbels isn't a real shop

Sorry, you can't visit Gimbels on your trip to New York! The exterior of the store is Macy's, which is a real department store in New York, with a little CGI. There used to be a department store chain called Gimbels in America, but it closed in 1987.

11. That was a real burp, but it wasn't by Will Ferrell

That 12 second burp is a real sound bite made in one go by a human - specifically, legendary voice actor Maurice LaMarche. He's best known for voicing the Brain in Pinky and the Brain, and Mr. Big in Zootropolis. He said it wasn't exactly a burp and was more like tribal throat-singing. Apparently he still gets royalties from the film!

12. Buddy caused a few traffic accidents

People driving in New York were surprised to see a grown man wandering around in an elf costume, and this caused a few small fender benders in the Lincoln Tunnel (the tunnel Buddy emerges from into the city) and on the streets. When you're driving, don't be distracted by anything no matter how silly it is!

13. The store manager is called "Wanda", and here's why

Elf | New Line Cinema | Jon Berg, Todd Komamicki, Shauna Robertson | Jon Favreau

You might notice that the manager in Gimbels has a name badge that says Wanda. This is because the part was originally written for comedian Wanda Sykes, but she was unable to do it. The new actor kept the badge as a joke!

14. The cotton balls were edible

The cotton balls Buddy eats in the doctor's office were made of candy floss with no food colouring - normal candy floss has food colouring added to make it festive! Also, eating real cotton balls is a terrible idea no matter how much of a method actor you are.

15. Lots of practical effects were used

Elf | New Line Cinema | Jon Berg, Todd Komamicki, Shauna Robertson | Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau thought that too much CGI would make the film age badly, so he used as little as possible. The scenes with Buddy in the North Pole were mainly done using forced perspective to make Will Ferrell look much taller than everyone else (the same technique was used in Lord of the Rings for the hobbits). The film also uses stop-motion animation for the animals in the North Pole, which is a homage to old Christmas classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

16. The film's youngest stars were fired!

Originally twin baby boys with curly blonde hair were cast as baby buddy. Films and TV shows usually have twins playing one baby, because babies can't be on film sets for very long. But the babies wouldn't stop crying, and so had to be replaced - by triplet girls with dark hair!

17. There's a missing scene

Elf | New Line Cinema | Jon Berg, Todd Komamicki, Shauna Robertson | Jon Favreau

Films often have deleted scenes, which is when a scene is shot but then cut from the final product because the film is too long or the scene isn't needed. Elf had one where Buddy is shown playing ice hockey in the North Pole and accidentally throws one of his elf friends into the stands. This one is notable because it showed up in all the trailers - lots of cinema-goers were a bit confused!

18. Some scenes were shot in an abandoned mental hospital

Yep! The sets for Gimbels toy department, Walter's apartment and the prison cell were built inside an abandoned mental hospital which is used a lot for filming (mostly horror movies, unsurprisingly)!

19. Buddy's costume is a reference to another Christmas classic

Buddy's elf outfit is an almost exact replica of the outfit worn by one of the elves in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Jon Favreau wanted him to look a little like a puppet.

20. There probably won't be an Elf 2

Sorry, Elf fans, but a sequel is looking unlikely. Will Ferrell has turned the role down because he thinks he would look a bit ridiculous in the costume at his age. Never mind, we can always rewatch the original!