Then and Now: The 'Elf' Cast


New Line Cinema

In 2003, the holiday comedy Elf hit the box office just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, more than 17 years later, fans still welcome the winter season and all of its festivities with Buddy (Will Ferrell), the ever-optimistic elf. Whether you’ve only recently discovered the classic Christmas flick or it’s your 100th time watching the movie, you have most likely wondered what Will, Zooey Deschanel, and the rest of the Elf cast is up to now. While you press play (again), check out our full rundown of where the cast of the hilarious Christmas movie ended up. You may be surprised to realize that you’ve spotted the actors more than once over the past decade.

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Then: Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell brought this iconic Christmas movie to life with his hilarious portrayal of Buddy the Elf. That said, while he wasn’t as big of a star then as he is now, he was making fans laugh years before the comedy premiered in 2003. In 1995, Will joined the cast of Saturday Night Live during which he gained popularity for his impression of former President George W. Bush. After departing from the late night show in 2002, Will appeared in other classic movies like Austin Powers, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, and Zoolander.

Now: Will Ferrell

Since Elf, Will has continued to act and score notable roles in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory, and Step Brothers. In addition, he’s added writer and producer to his résumé. Will is also the executive producer of hit shows like Booksmart, Succession, Dead to Me, and Motherland. Today, he’s still married to wife, Viveca Paulin.

RELATED: The Actual Reason Why Will Ferrell Left SNL

Then: Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel made her film debut in the 1999 comedy drama Mumford. She quickly became known for portraying witty characters in The Good Girl and The New Guy. Before playing opposite Will, Zooey guest starred in the hit sitcom Frasier.

Now: James Caan

Today, at 80 years old, James continues acting. Following the success of Elf, he lent his voice to The Godfather video game franchise, in addition to the animation movie series Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Then: Bob Newhart

Bob Newhart began as a comedian appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. Shortly after, he transitioned to acting in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Catch-22. Bob eventually brought together his passions of comedy and acting in the TV series The Bob Newhart Show. What’s more, he also voiced Leonard the Polar Bear in the classic holiday animated movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and starred in Legally Blonde 2 before playing Papa Elf.

Now: Bob Newhart

When Elf premiered in 2003, Bob was still going full force in the acting world. He’s since appeared in ER, Desperate Housewives, NCIS, Hot in Cleveland, The Big Bang Theory, and Young Sheldon. Plus, after finding success with the TV movie franchise The Librarians, which had three installments, Bob became part of the TV series of the same name for four years. To this day, he remains married to his wife, Virginia Quinn, who he wed in 1963.

Now: Mary Steenburgen

After portraying Emily Hobbs in Elf, Mary reunited with Will years later in the comedy Step Brothers. She then appeared in Four Christmases, The Proposal, and The Help. Her résumé also includes roles in Orange Is the New Black, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Last Man on Earth, The Conners, Grace and Frankie, and The Good Place. Most recently, Mary lent her voice for the animated comedy Bless the Harts. NBC viewers may also recognize her from Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Last month, Hulu premiered its original holiday rom-com movie Happiest Season, where Mary portrays the matriarch. In 1995, she married actor Ted Danson.

RELATED: Inside Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson’s Adorable Relationship

Then and Now: Daniel Tay

Daniel Tay was only 11 years old when he made his acting debut as Michael Hobbs in Elf. Although he had a handful of roles in the following years, Daniel bid farewell to the acting circuit in 2009.

Now: Edward Asner

All in all, Edward, 91, has over 400 credits to his name, including movies, TV series, and voice acting. In 2009, the actor brought Up‘s protagonist Carl Fredricksen to life. What’s more, Edward has also voiced characters in King of the Hill, Family Guy, SpongeBob SquarePants, American Dad, and others. On TV, he’s starred in a variety of popular shows, such as Grace and Frankie, Dead to Me, Modern Family, and Blue Bloods.

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