When this screenplay first emerged in 1993, Jim Carrey was attached to star the lead.
The scene where the fake Santa is chasing Buddy had to be done in one take because the crew spent weeks building the set and it would be impossible to rebuild everything.
Will Ferrell caused several minor traffic accidents walking through the Lincoln Tunnel and filming near Central Park. People were so surprised to see Will wearing an elf outfit they didn’t pay attention to the road.
Many of the film’s best lines were not scripted, but rather improvised brilliantly on the spot by Ferrell.
The design for Santa’s Workshop as well as the Elf uniforms come from the original ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ (1964) animated special. The Elf uniforms completely mirror the ones from the TV special.
Will Ferrell’s reaction to the jack in the boxes were genuine. He has always been frightened of them.
On the final day of shooting in New York, it was just the director, Will Ferrell, and a camera man driving around the city looking for locations to shoot. They would jump out and ask pedestrians if they would be willing to be extras while Ferrell paraded around acting like Buddy. Many of the scenes shot on that day are used in the film.
Plans for Elf 2 were scrapped because Will Ferrell turned down the role.
Will Ferrell suffered from headaches throughout filming because he insisted on actually eating all of the sugary foodstuffs in the Elf food pyramid on camera.