In November of 2003, I was a teenaged movie theater employee. In addition to sneaking ‘courtesy cups’ of popcorn and Oreo Cream Blast (TM) every shift and taking my friends to free movies, I’d pop into theaters during my breaks to watch some of the better films [ and sometimes, you know, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen or whatever.] I probably saw Elf five times during that ’03 holiday season – albeit in 15-minute snippets. Ten years on, I still love it just as much. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but Elf — eminently charming, extremely quotable, and in my view, one of the best Christmas movies of all time — was released ten years ago this month.
Everyone knows that Elf had some amazing writing and a great soundtrack, but I think the ensemble cast is a big reason that it holds up so well a decade later. Everybody knows Will Ferrell’s Buddy, of course. Elf was also one of the first times anyone noticed a pre-bangs Zooey Deschanel. There are others that everyone will remember: James Caan, Bob Newhart, Edward Asner, and Mary Steenburgen. But did you realize that all of these folks were in Elf, too? Some of them have been around for decades, and others became famous since Buddy took the journey through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.
Peter Dinklage — Miles Finch
In Elf: Dinklage played Miles Finch, a grumpy children’s book author and – in Buddy’s view – an “angry elf.”
Outside of Elf: These days, Peter Dinklage is earning major accolades for his work in Game of Thrones. You may also know him from his work as Marlowe Sawyer on Nip/Tuck, Stewart on 30 Rock, and my favorite, Peter Drunklage on SNL.
Faizon Love – Buddy’s Manager
In Elf: He’s the hardworking, exacting Gimbel’s manager who insists on six inch ribbon curls and wants to know why Buddy’s smiling like that. He would like Buddy to make work his new favorite.
Outside of Elf: Love has an extensive resume, mostly character work. Shane in Couples Retreat? That was him. The Perfect Holiday (a Queen Latifah vehicle)? Jamal. Reaching back to pre-Elf times, Faizon Love was Wendell Wilcox on The Parent ‘Hood and Big Worm in Friday.
In Elf: Deb is Walter’s secretary, who likes to whisper and has such a pretty face, she should be on a Christmas card.
Outside of Elf: Sedaris, of the Comedy Sedarises, has a delightfully nutty sense of humor. My favorites are her Jerri Blank on Strangers with Candy, her great books on entertaining, and all of the stories in her brother David’s books where she wears wacky wigs and fatsuits to freak out their father.
In Elf: Brief but memorable role in the Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins sequence.
Outside of Elf: She’s Atlanta on Clash of the Titans, Misty on Dead Like Me, and Kat on Edgemont. I don’t watch any of those, but a lot of people do.
In Elf: The children’s book editor who affirms that even with those two pages, the book would have sucked.
Outside of Elf: You’ve definitely seen Lerner in one of his roles as a classy older guy. For instance: Mel Horowitz in the TV show version of Clueless, Rollie Simone on Hill Street Blues, and Arthur in Hart to Hart.
In Elf: Just “Witness.” I seriously cannot remember Will McCormack being in Elf, for all the times I’ve seen it. Time for a re-watch!
Outside of Elf: Ethan in Brothers & Sisters, Skillz in Celeste and Jesse Forever (which he co-wrote with his ex, Rashida Jones), Robert O’Connor in In Plain Sight, and he’s directing an upcoming Chris Messina flick. Not too shabby for an unnamed Elf character.
In Elf: Morris worked for Greenway Press, which between James Caan, Amy Sedaris, Peter Dinklage, and Andy Richter, is probably a lot more fun than the publisher I work for (which is GREAT don’t
get me wrong fire me).
Outside of Elf: Andy Richter is best known as Conan’s sidekick (/Amy Poehler’s older brother). He’s also been a recurring actor on Arrested Development, voiced plenty of animated projects, appeared as Stan on The New Adventures of Old Christine, and had a memorable role on 30 Rock’s Ludachristmas episode (/Tina Fey’s older brother).
In Elf: A snowman in the style of 60s Christmas specials, who keeps it real (“You’re 6’3 and had a beard since you were 15,” he tells Buddy).
Outside of Elf: You probably already know that Redbone wears a felt hat and big sunglasses, and has an oldtime-y, Vaudeville-y vibe, But did you know that his real name is Dickran? Dickran, is his name. Rough.
Jon Favreau — Doctor
In Elf: The doctor who doesn’t have any cotton balls any more.
Outside of Elf: I guess this is technically still quite Inside of Elf, but he directed it.
Peter Billingsly — Elf
In Elf: He informs Buddy that he’s pretty off-pace with that Etch-a-Sketch business. It’s almost like he was b0rn to be in Christmas movies.
Outside of Elf: Ralphie in A Christmas Story; an adult man who has to hear “you’ll shoot your eye out kid!” every time he is just trying to run to the grocery store to buy a damn carton of milk.