Buddy the Elf, What's Your Favorite Color?
The delightful behind-the-scenes of the holiday classic.
Hi! I’m Joey, the creator of Fun Fact Friyay, the newsletter for curious people. Today’s fun fact is a delight whether you’re a cotton-headed ninnymuggins or not.
This fun fact is presented to you by Craig Leener.
One of my favorite holiday activities is curling up with a good book. I throw a blanket on me, a dog throws him or herself under the blanket, and it’s a great time. It’s even better when the book is super engrossing, and you just keep turning the pages, perhaps only pausing to take a sip of cider or eggnog.
Craig Leener’s books fit that bill. They’re well-paced, have interesting characters, and the storyline expertly weaves sports and sci-fi together while still keeping plenty of charm and heart.
Whether you’re planning to get some holiday reading in or want to get a head start on 2024, Craig’s collection of books will treat you well. Grab a copy of one or all four here.
Today’s fact: Several sets from Elf were built in the same abandoned mental hospital where Freddy Vs. Jason was shot.
Earlier this week, it was apparently “Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day.” This is a very easy holiday to do — anytime someone calls you, you answer by saying, “[YOUR NAME] the elf, what’s your favorite color?”
Then the other person, surely a fan of the movie Elf, will laugh and laugh, and you’ll both forget why they called in the first place.
Elf came out 20 years ago (I’m so sorry), and it’s still among my favorite holiday movies to watch every year. In fact, I even own a Buddy the Elf costume, which is wonderful, except that the pants have no pockets. Where else am I supposed to store all my sugar?
Nevermind that, we’ve got to dive into this fact.
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On the DVD commentary of Elf, director Jon Favreau drops several fascinating nuggets about the making of the film. One of them is that while there are real exterior shots of places like, say, the Empire State Building, most of the movie’s scenes are actually filmed in Vancouver, since it’s a cheaper location to shoot in than New York.
As a result, the crew needed to build some sets in Canada. The ideal location for that? The same spot where New Line shot the film Freddy Vs. Jason, which just so happened to be a no-longer-in-operation mental hospital.
That means memorable moments like this scene were created in that hospital:
As was this one:
And…well, the jail scene maybe makes a little more sense. You’ve already got a ready-made cell.
Before Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey was originally going to play Buddy.
Jon Favreau used his one-year-old son as the inspiration for Buddy. So, anytime you see him being amazed by something mundane, like a coffee shop or gum stuck under a fence, picture a one-year-old child having that same reaction.
The “You Sit Upon a Throne of Lies” scene was filmed in one take.
The baby portraying baby Buddy in the orphanage were actually triplet girls. They had a pair of twin boys that looked very much like Will Ferrell, but they couldn’t stop crying, so the gals stepped — or more likely, crawled — in and effortlessly pulled the part off.
There’s very little CGI used in the film; a lot of the camera tricks are done through forced perspective. Here’s a fun video highlighting this work.
The “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” scene was written specifically for Zooey Deschanel after the crew learned she could sing quite well. Had another actress in the running been cast, Buddy would have learned his love interest was an elite skateboarder. Can you imagine doing ollies on a block of ice? Wild.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear. Happy holidays!