Where are the cast of Elf 18 years on from hit film? From teaching to tragic death and Will Ferrell's amazing career

Where are the cast of Elf 18 years on from hit film? From teaching to tragic death and Will Ferrell's amazing career

SINCE its release in 2003, Elf has remained one of the most popular and beloved Christmas movies of all time – and for good reason, too.

Now, more than 18 years later, fans still welcome the winter season and all of its festivities with Buddy – the ever-optimistic elf – at the forefront of everyone’s favourite Christmas flick. 

Big-name actors like Will Ferrell and James Caan lent their talents to the film, while newbies like Peter Dinklage and Zooey Deschanel made early waves with their stellar performances.

With that said, The Sun takes a look at what the cast of Elf has been up to in the 18 years since the film debuted – and some of their paths may surprise fans.

Will Ferrell in Elf

Will brought the festive favourite to life with his hilariously brilliant portrayal of Buddy the Elf. 

While he wasn’t as big a star then as he is now, he was still making fans laugh years before the comedy premiered in 2003.

Before his stint as Buddy, Will joined the cast of Saturday Night Live and gained popularity for his impression of former President George W. Bush.

After departing from the show in 2002, Will appeared in other classic movies before Elf such as Austin Powers, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar and Zoolander.

Will Ferrell now

Since Elf, Will has continued to land notable roles in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory and Step Brothers.

Will has also added writer and producer to his resume, too, with the 54-year-old taking on an executive producer role on hit shows like Booksmart, Succession, Dead to Me and Motherland.

Zooey Deschanel in Elf

Before her stint as Jovie – a disgruntled store employee – Zooey 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.

Zooey Deschanel now

Zooey’s acting career picked up steam after Elf.

She’s best known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Failure to Launch, Yes Man and 500 Days of Summer.

Away from films, Zooey landed the lead role of quirky school teacher Jessica Day in New Girl.

Throughout the show’s seven seasons, she earned an Emmy Award nomination and three Golden Globe Award nominations.

James Caan in Elf

From the start of his career in the 1960s, James made an impression with his performances in The Glory Guys, The Godfather, Brian’s Song, The Gambler and Funny Lady. 

By the 90s, he had earned an Emmy Award nomination, four Golden Globes nominations and his own star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

James Caan now

Today, at the ripe old age of 81, 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.

Bob Newhart in Elf

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.

Before playing Papa Elf, he also voiced Leonard the Polar Bear in the classic holiday animated movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and starred in Legally Blonde 2.

Bob Newhart now

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. 

To this day, he remains married to his wife, Virginia Quinn, who he wed in 1963.

Mary Steenburgen in Elf

Mary Steenburgen was first discovered by actor Jack Nicholson in Paramount's New York office. 

After casting her in his 1978 Western comedy Goin' South, Mary was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Two years later, she won the coveted award for her performance in the 1980 comedy-drama Melvin and Howard, for which she also earned an Oscar.

Mary Steenburgen now

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 resume 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.

Daniel Tay in Elf

Daniel Tay was a fresh-faced 11-year-old when he made his acting debut as Michael Hobbs in Elf. 

Daniel Tay now

Despite having a handful of roles in the following years, Daniel bid farewell to the acting circuit in 2009.

After his studies, he became an SAT instructor at Veritas Prep, a consulting company that does test preparation for graduate schools.

Peter Dinklage in Elf

For Peter, 2003 was a memorable year. 

While celebrating the success of Elf, he was also earning praise for his role in The Station Agent.

In the decade leading up to this, Peter appeared in a dozen movies and TV shows.

Peter Dinklage now

Game of Thrones wouldn't have been the same without Peter's portrayal of Tyrion Lannister in the hit HBO drama. 

Throughout GoT's eight seasons, he was nominated a total of nine times for an Emmy and took the award home four times for Outstanding Supporting Actor – he also won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Edward Asner in Elf

In 1957, Edward Asner kicked off his acting career with the TV series Studio One in Hollywood.

By the time Elf arrived at the box office, Edward had been nominated for 15 Emmys, winning seven times. 

Most notably, Edward was the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981 to 1985.

Edward Asner now

All in all, Edward has over 400 credits to his name, including movies, TV series and voice acting.

Sadly, he died aged 91 on 29 August in 2021 of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles.

His death led Zooey to share a tribute to her late Elf co-star.

“Rest In Peace my favourite Santa Claus,” she wrote in the accompanying caption. “You will be so missed.”

Elf is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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