It’s ‘Elf’s 20th Anniversary! 3 Fun Facts About Will Ferrell Holiday Hit

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Son of a nutcracker! Has Will Ferrell’s instant-classic holiday flick been around two decades already? To celebrate Buddy the Elf and his wonder-filled 2003 New York City adventure that hit theaters on November 7, 2003, we’ve gathered a few fun facts about the film.


Early on in Elf production, Saturday Night Live’s Chris Farley and Jim Carrey were very real possibilities for the lead. Also: Garry Shandling, that cotton-headed ninnymuggins, turned down the part of Buddy’s dad Walter that went to James Caan. And New Line Cinema really wanted Dawson’s Creek darling Katie Holmes as Gimbels elf Jovie, who was ultimately played by Zooey Deschanel.


The production spent just 13 days actually shooting in NYC. Then it was off to Vancouver, where a hockey rink refroze into the North Pole and a mental institution doubled for Gimbels and other interiors.

“One of the buildings, I think, was still open and had patients in it,” director Jon Favreau told Rolling Stone. “How weird it must have been for them to look out their window and see Santa Claus and a guy in an elf suit running around with reindeer.”


As we all know, elves’ four food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. The sugar rush hit Ferrell hard. “I didn’t get a lot of sleep,” he said. “I constantly stayed up. But…if it takes eating a lot of maple syrup, then I will if that’s what the job calls for.”

This is an excerpt from TV Insider’s December issue. For more in-depth, reported coverage devoted to streaming shows from the publishers of TV Guide Magazine, pick up the issue, currently on newsstands, or purchase it online here. You can also subscribe to TV Insider Magazine here now.

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