13 surprising things you probably didn't know about 'Elf'

YouTube/Movieclips‘Elf’ premiered 15 years ago.
  • “Elf” first aired in 2003.
  • The film used a lot of unique perspective and film techniques to create elf-related illusions.
  • Will Ferrell has no plans to be in a sequel.

The Christmas comedy “Elf” first premiered 15 years ago and it has since become a holiday classic. It stars Will Ferrell as a human raised by elves. His character, Buddy the Elf, ends up in New York City looking for his birth father. Naturally, hilarious shenanigans ensue, including the creation of chocolate spaghetti topped with chocolate Pop Tarts.

Here are 13 surprising things you probably didn’t know about “Elf.”


Buddy’s super long belch was recorded by a famous voice actor.

Warner BrosAnd who can forget Buddy’s famous pasta dish?

No, Will Ferrell wasn’t belching on-screen for an impressively long time in the film. Instead, the long burp was recorded by Maurice LaMarche.

Better known as the voice of Brain from “Pinky and the Brain,” LaMarche’s vocal contributions to the film were uncredited, but his belch will live on in cinematic history.


Jim Carrey reportedly almost played Buddy.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty ImagesCarrey ended up starring in a different Christmas movie.

Although Buddy is one of Will Ferrell’s most well-known roles, Vulture reported that when the script was first circulating in 1993, Jim Carrey was the first choice to play the curious elf. The film wouldn’t be released until ten years later.


The movie is set in NYC, but most of it was filmed elsewhere.

New Line CinemaNot all of the scenes were filmed in NYC.

Many scenes from “Elf” were filmed in NYC, but a lot of the production actually took place in Canada.


“Analogue techniques” were used in place of CGI in some parts of the film.

Warner BrothersIt’s a certain technique.

VFX supervisor Joe Bauer told Creative Planet Network that “Elf” director Jon Favreau wanted to use “analogue techniques” to bring the magic to the North Pole. The crew used techniques like forced perspective to make Buddy look bigger than the elves around him.


The North Pole sets were built for perspective.

New Line CinemaIt created an illusion.

Bauer also told Creative Planet Network that the sets for the North Pole were meant to establish a scale for the elves in the film. The teams worked with a two-thirds scale that would allow Will Ferrell to seem bigger than his elven counterparts.

Afterward, the crew would adjust the height of the cameras and objects to bring the optical illusion to life.


CGI was used in some parts of the film.

Warner Home VideoThis can be seen in the snowball fight scene.

Even though it might not seem obvious, CGI was used in some parts of the film – including the snowball scene. Naturally, the miraculously long throw during this scene was CGI, as were any snowballs you didn’t see thrown by someone.


Peter Billingsley makes a cameo.

New Line CinemaHe played an elf.

Actor Peter Billingsley played an iconic role in another classic Christmas movie: “A Christmas Story.” He made an uncredited appearance in the 2003 film as Ming Ming the elf.


The director makes a cameo as well.

YouTube/New Line CinemaHe plays a doctor.

Did you spot Jon Favreau in “Elf” the first time you watched it? Don’t worry, if you’re not looking for him you might miss him. The director makes an appearance in the film as Buddy’s doctor.


Elf hockey was cut from the film.

YouTube/FandagoNOW ExtrasThe hockey sticks are made of trees.

“Elf” has a lot of great scenes, but the one of elves playing hockey wasn’t meant to be one of them. This scene was cut from the film, but you can still watch it.

Read More: Sugar cookies inspired by ‘Elf’ are now a thing and here’s where you can get them


There’s an “Elf” Broadway musical.

Flickr/Meaghan O’MalleyIt was on Broadway.

For just a few short weeks at the end of 2010, “Elf” was transformed into a musical that raked in $US1.4 million in just one week. According to Broadway World, this broke the box office record at Al Hirschfeld Theatre for the most money made in a musical’s opening week.


Will Ferrell said he couldn’t have predicted the film’s success.

Warner Home Video‘Elf’ has become a holiday classic

In a 2015 interview with Good Morning America, Will Ferrell said he’s surprised that “Elf” has continued to see success years after its release. He joked that it could have been his last movie, but instead the film has become a cult classic.


The “throne of lies” scene was shot in one take.

YouTube/MovieClipsThe set was demolished.

According to Esquire, due to a tight budget and having little time to rebuild such an intricate set, this scene was filmed in one take. Thankfully, the Buddy the Elf versus mall Santa scene didn’t need to be re-filmed.


Ferrell isn’t interested in filming a sequel.

IMDb/Warner Bros.Ferrell probably won’t sign onto a sequel anytime soon.

In 2006 Ferrell told The Observer he turned down a rumoured $US29 million to star in the sequel. He said he didn’t want to just do it for the money.

“I remember asking myself: could I withstand the criticism when it’s bad and they say, ‘He did the sequel for the money?’ I decided I wouldn’t be able to,” he told the publication.

Later, in 2013, Ferrell reaffirmed his decision to People, saying he won’t make another “Elf” movie. He said it would look “slightly pathetic” if he tried to “squeeze” back into his elf tights.

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