New Line Cinema

12 'Elf' Secrets That Are Sweeter Than Maple Syrup

No throne of lies here.

Twelve years ago today, the world was introduced to Buddy the Elf. Yep, the story of a human raised as an elf who travels to New York City to find his birth family debuted more than a decade ago. Since then, "Elf" became a holiday classic, as well as one of the most-quotable movies of our time.

Because today is the film's anniversary, we decided to share 12 elf-tastic facts about the making of the film, as well as its aftermath. Don't worry, we don't sit on a throne of lies.

  1. When Buddy (Will Ferrell) sang in Santaland, those lyrics weren't in the script.

    Ferrell shared in an interview, "Singing in the Santaland, where I'm demonstrating how easy it is to sing...the lyrics were improvised, definitely. I just threw Buddy's mind of what a song would be like, stream of consciousness singing."

  2. Even though Buddy is an A+ gift wrapper, Ferrell is definitely an F- one.

    "I can't wrap a present. You always know if you're getting, you know which present is from me under the tree because I used like six rolls of tape, and the paper's all bunched," admitted Ferrell.

  3. Baby Buddy was originally supposed to be played by twin boys.

    But, because they wouldn't stop crying, the twins were replaced with triplet girls.

  4. Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) from "A Christmas Story" had a cameo as Ming Ming the Elf.

    He's the elf who told Buddy he had "special talents."

  5. According to director Jon Favreau, Ferrell just did his own thing during filming.

    "I never really asked Will to do anything specifically. He would always come up with a really exciting choice. He has very good instincts, especially with physical comedy," Favreau told

  6. The part in the movie where Buddy first entered NYC and explored the city had an interesting backstory.

    Favreau explained, "The last day of shooting in New York, we just took cameras. We didn't even have the director of photography. We just took a camera man and a film loader and some PAs and went around the city in a van, jumped out and threw people some money and got to use all different locations...with all real people around him [Ferrell]. I put him in those situations and he had to improvise and stay in character while dealing with people who, for the most part, didn't even know they were in a movie."

  7. Some of the film's sets were constructed in an abandoned mental hospital. Yes, really.

    "The production team constructed the interior sets for Walter's Central Park West apartment, Gimbels' lavish toy department and that grim prison cell. The facility is called Riverview Hospital," according to Mental Floss.

  8. The jack-in-the-boxes were possessed by Favreau.

    If you could feel the anxiety radiating from Ferrell during that toy testing scene, there's a good reason for that. It was apparently legit. "Rather than standard jack-in-the-boxes that would pop at the song's end, these were remote controlled by Favreau, who purposely manipulated their timing to toy with his star and get authentic reactions."

  9. The movie was initially very dark.

    In an interview with Rolling Stone, Favreau stated, "I took a look at the script, and I wasn't particularly interested. It was a much darker version of the film...So for a year, I rewrote the script. It turned into more of a PG movie from a PG-13. He was a darker character in the script I had read originally."

  10. The Santaland scenes could've been filmed at Macy's, but there was a huge catch.

    "Macy's was willing to let us shoot there, use their Santaland, even incorporate us into the parade...However...we would have had to remove the Artie Lange scene, where Santa is revealed to be a fake, because their Santa has to be real," admitted Favreau. Thankfully, they didn't give into this, or else we wouldn't have had the line, "You sit on a throne of lies," aka one of the film's best quotes ever.

  11. Elf actually became a Broadway musical.
    Joan Marcus / Elf the Musical on Broadway via Getty Images

    The show is still touring and you can listen to the album on Spotify. (FYI, the musical is super cute!)

  12. Michael (Daniel Tay) is now all grown up — and a total hottie.
    Kevin Kane / Getty Images for Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

    No, this isn't an opinion; it's a fact.