The Elf cast – where are they now?

Buddy the Elf's incredible ability to spread Christmas cheer has made Jon Favreau's movie a festive classic but where is the Elf cast now?

Elf cast: Buddy in a classroom surrounded by Santa's Elves

Where is the Elf cast now? A modern classic, Elf is widely regarded as one of the best Christmas movies of recent times. Directed by MCU veteran Jon Favreau, the film tells the story of Buddy the Elf, a human who was accidentally adopted by one of Santa’s elves.

Raised at the North Pole and unaware of his true identity Buddy struggles to fit in with Santa’s helpers and eventually discovers his true origins. With a little help from Santa and his adopted dad, Papa Elf Buddy sets off to New York City, where he hopes to track down his biological father.

Unfortunately for Buddy, his dear old dad is on the naughty list and doesn’t care much for the holiday season. More of a phenomenon than a film, Elf was a huge success for Favreau and Ferrell and has spun off an animated special and a Broadway show. Despite the Christmas movies‘ success, though, there’s never been an Elf 2, which got us thinking about what have the Elf cast been up to these last few years that’s stopped them from making a sequel. Here’s what we managed to dig up…

Who’s in the Elf cast?

  • Bob Newhart – Papa Elf
  • Ed Asner – Santa
  • Mary Steenburgen – Emily
  • Zooey Deschanel – Jovie
  • Peter Dinklage – Miles Finch
  • James Caan – Walter
  • Will Ferrell – Buddy the Elf

Elf cast: Bob Newhart - Papa Elf

Bob Newhart – Papa Elf

Bob Newhart played the delightfully dry Papa Elf, Buddy’s adoptive father. Since putting away Papa’s pointy hat Newhart has starred in multiple movies, most notably Horrible Bosses, but it’s TV work that’s kept him most busy.

He’s appeared in everything from Desperate Housewives to NCIS. Still, he’s probably best remembered at this point for his multiple appearances in the comedy series The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon, where he plays Professor Proton, Sheldon’s childhood hero.

Elf cast: Santa - Ed Asner

Ed Asner – Santa

Ed Asner played Santa multiple times in his career, but his portrayal of jolly Saint Nick in Elf will always be our favourite. Asner was a prolific actor appearing in more than fifty films between the release of Elf in 2003 and his death in 2021.

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His best-known credit in that time is probably Carl Fredricksen, the grumpy old man from the Pixar movie Up, who finds himself on an adventure with young Wilderness Explorer Russell. Asner also had an impressive TV career appearing onscreen for shows like Netflix’s Dead To Me and Cobra Kai while also lending his voice to animated series like Spongebob and Teen Titans.

Elf cast: Mary Steenburgen - Emily

Mary Steenburgen – Emily

Mary Steenburgen played Emily Hobbs, the kindly wife of Walter, making her Buddy’s stepmother. One of the few people in the Hobbs family who had any time for Buddy, she was always a favourite of mine. A veteran actor by the time she appeared in Elf, Steenburg continued to work in Hollywood after the film’s release.

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One of her more notable roles saw her team up with Elf leading man Will Ferrell once again for the comedy movie Step Brothers. Meanwhile, in 2013 she reunited with her Elf co-star James Caan in The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, where she once again played his wife. Her most recent big-screen project, Nightmare Alley, has seen her work with veteran horror movie director Guillermo Del Torro.

Elf cast: Jovie - Zoey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel – Jovie

Zooey Deschanel played the weary department store elf Jovie, who Buddy falls for when he hears her singing in the shower. Since appearing in Elf, Deschanel’s career went from strength to strength. The year after appearing in Elf, she appeared in the science fiction movie Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and she’d go on to star in films like Bridge to Terabithia, The Happening, and most notably (500) Days of Summer.

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She was tipped at one point to play The Wasp in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but these plans fell through. That bad luck worked in her favour, though, as it allowed her to appear in the show that arguably made her a household name, New Girl. Since that show wrapped up, she’s continued to appear in both TV and movies.

Elf cast: Peter Dinklage - Miles Finch

Peter Dinklage – Miles Finch

Peter Dinklage played Miles Finch, a best-selling children’s author with a fiery temper who attacks Buddy after he confuses him for an elf. Following his role in Elf, Dinklage appeared in several films and TV series, including The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Threshold, and 30 Rock.

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It wasn’t until 2011, when he was cast as the Game of Thrones character Tyrion Lannister in the hit fantasy series, that his career really took off. Dinklage played Tyrion across all eight seasons. A huge commercial and critical success, Game of Thrones became a global phenomenon, and Dinklage went on to win four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series as well as a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Tyrion.

His film career also took off, and he went on to play the villain in X-Men: Days of Future Past and appeared in the Oscar-winning movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Since Game of Thrones wrapped up, Dinklage has continued to star in movies appearing in Avengers: Infinity War and a musical version of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Elf cast: James Caan - Walter

James Caan – Walter

James Caan played Buddy’s miserly father, who’s on Santa’s naughty list because of his selfishness. Despite having appeared in critically acclaimed films like The Godfather and Misery, Caan loved working on Elf, describing it to AV Club as one of his favourite comedy productions ever.

Since Elf Caan’s continued to work in film and TV. His most notable roles are probably playing The Woodcutter in the anime movie The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and Tim Lockwood – the strict father of the lovable main character Flint – in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. He also had the honour of playing himself in an episode of The Simpsons in 2009. James Caan passed away on July 6 2022.

Elf cast: Buddy the Elf - Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell – Buddy the Elf

Will Ferrell? Never heard of him! No, we’re just being a cotton-headed ninny muggins. After Elf Ferrell’s career exploded, he made a string of incredibly successful comedy movies, including Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Wedding Crashers, and Step Brothers, among many, many more.

Not content with traditional fame in 2007, he founded the comedy website Funny or Die with his frequent collaborator and writing partner Adam McKay. Ferrell has also appeared in numerous TV shows, including The Office, 30 Rock and most recently, The Shrink Next Door.

In recent years Ferrell’s also started producing movies, working on critical darlings like Olivia Wilde’s riotously funny teen movie Booksmart and the cult hit Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.

For more festive fun, here are our guides to the Home Alone cast, and The Grinch cast. Or, if you are looking towards the future, here are all the new movies heading our way in 2023.