What The Elf Cast Is Doing Now, Including Will Ferrell And Zooey Deschanel

Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf in Elf
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The weather is getting colder. Tinsel is being hung with care. It's only a matter of time before the snow falls. That's right, it's nearly Christmastime, which means one thing: we're getting ever closer towards Elf season. Once an unlikely hit for New Line Cinema, the Will Ferrell lark has become a seasonal classic, sparking no shortage of joy for audiences young and old during the most magical time of the year. Also starring Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Peter Dinklage, and the late Ed Asner, the Elf cast is filled with seasoned veterans and former newcomers alike. Now that the season is upon us, it's time to look back on the 18-year-old (!) movie and see what Jon Favreau's all-star ensemble is doing now. 

Will Ferrell in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Will Ferrell (Buddy The Elf)

As Buddy the Elf, an orphan child who spent his formative years in the North Pole and reconnects with his father as an emotionally-stunted adult, Will Ferrell became a movie star thanks to his gleeful lead performance in Jon Favreau’s Elf. Establishing his comedic chops through his uproarious work on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, the actor continued to find fame thanks to his performances in the Anchorman movies, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Other Guys, Old School, and Step Brothers — many of which he also co-wrote and produced. Ferrell's other film credits include Stranger Than Fiction, The Producers, Blades of Glory, the Zoolander films, the Daddy’s Home movies, The LEGO Movies, and, most recently, Netflix's Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. 

Most recently, Will Ferrell produced and starred in Apple TV+’s The Shrink Next Door. He also appeared in the short film, David. Next, Will Ferrell is the star and producer of Apple TV+’s Spirited. He’s also attached to a number of other projects, including The Prince of Fashion, Fruitcake, an untitled eSports project, and plenty more. Furthermore, Ferrell is a producer or executive producer behind many notable movies and shows, including the Emmy-winning HBO series, Succession.

James Caan, Amy Sedaris, and Will Ferrell in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

James Caan (Walter Hobbs)

In the role of Walter Hobbs, Buddy the Elf’s distant father (both physically and emotionally), James Caan plays a deeply disapproving dad in Elf. Most notably, the actor was Oscar-nominated for his hot-tempered performance as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. Additionally, Caan was acclaimed for his work in Thief, Misery, Bottle Rocket, For the Boys, Brian’s Song, The Gambler, Funny Lady, A Bridge Too Far, The Glory Guys, El Dorado, Dick Tracy, Alien Nation, and other films. Also, the same year that Elf arrived, Caan was celebrated for his performance in Dogville. 

Following Elf, James Caan has been seen a number of movies, including Get Smart, Blood Ties, The Good Neighbor, Undercover Grandpa, Holy Lands, and Small Apartments. He was also heard in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies. On TV, Caan starred in ABC’s short-lived Back in the Game. He was also seen in Starz’s Magic City. Recently, Caan appeared in Queen Bees and JL Family Ranch 2. He’s also attached to Ace Beyond the Rye, Redemption, and Megalopolis, which reunites him with Francis Ford Coppola

Zooey Deschanel in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Zooey Deschanel (Jovie)

Playing the part of Jovie, Buddy the Elf’s sardonic co-worker who's unexpectedly charmed by this man’s relentless good cheer, Zooey Deschanel found her first brushes of fame as the love interest in 2003’s Elf. Following this breakout role, the actress continued to make a good impression and/or stole the show in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Failure to Launch, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and Bridge to Terebithia before she landed lead parts in (500) Days of Summer, The Happening, Yes Man, Our Idiot Brother, and Gigantic. Deschanel also reunited with Will Ferrell in Winter Passing. But she was most acclaimed for her lead performance as Jessica Day in Fox’s New Girl. 

Following her time on that hit series, for which she was Emmy-nominated, Zooey Deschanel was heard in last year’s Trolls World Tour, reprising her voice-only role from the previous movie. She can also be seen in Katy Perry’s “Not the End of the World” music video. Currently, Deschanel is filming the music drama, Dreamin’ Wild. She also co-hosts ABC’s The Celebrity Dating Game. Away from acting, Deschanel is known for her music career, particularly her work in She & Him. 

Mary Steenburgen in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Mary Steenburgen (Emily Hobbs)

As Emily Hobbs, Buddy the Elf’s ever-confounded step-mom, Mary Steenburgen played a concerned matriarch in Elf. Most notably, the actress won an Oscar for her outstanding supporting role in Melvin and Howard. Steenburgen can also be seen in Parenthood, Back to the Future Part III, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Time After Time, Philadelphia, Clifford, and Nixon. Later, she reunited with Will Ferrell in Step Brothers. Steenburgen was also seen in The Help, Four Christmases, Inland Empire, The Brave One, and Book Club. Recently, she appeared in Happiest Season. Next, Steenburgen stars in Nightmare Alley. 

Away from film, Mary Steenburgen starred in Fox’s The Last Man on Earth. She can also be seen in Orange Is the New Black, Justified, Joan of Arcadia, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Recently, the actress appeared in NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Steenburgen reprises this role in Roku’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas

Daniel Tay in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Daniel Tay (Michael Hobbs)

In the role of Michael Hobbs, Buddy’s moody younger half-brother, Daniel Tay plays a smart-aleck kid in Jon Favreau’s Elf. This Christmas favorite is easily his most famous acting credit, though he also played Young Harvey in the wonderful American Splendor that same year. Tay's other credits include Beer League and Brooklyn Rules. Additionally, the actor voiced the title character in Doogal and he can be heard in video games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Bully. Away from film, moreover, Tay was seen in various episodes of The Jamie Kennedy Experiment. 

In 2009, Daniel Tay stepped away from acting. As Bustle wrote, the former actor graduated from Yale University and he became a bilingual editor and an SAT tutor. 

Bob Newhart in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Bob Newhart (Papa Elf)

Playing the part of Papa Elf, Buddy’s loving adoptive father, Bob Newhart is a benevolent dad in Elf. Most famously, the actor-comedian was the star of The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart, both for which he was Emmy-nominated. Newhart was also Emmy-nominated for his work in ER and The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice. Later, he won an Emmy for playing Arthur in CBS’s The Big Bang Theory. Additionally, Newhart is known for his voice work in The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under. His most notable film credits include Catch-22, In & Out, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, and Horrible Bosses

Peter Dinklage in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Peter Dinklage (Miles Finch)

As Miles Finch, a best-selling children’s book author who doesn’t take kindly to Buddy the Elf’s observations, Peter Dinklage played a short-tempered character in 2003’s Elf. Most notably, the actor is a four-time Emmy winner for playing Tyrion Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Also, the same year that Elf came into theaters, Dinklage was acclaimed for his terrific lead performance in Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent. He was also seen in Living in Oblivion, Human Nature, and Tiptoes. In the years to follow, Dinklage notably appeared in Death of a Funeral (2007 and 2010), Pete Smalls Is Dead (which he produced), X-Men: Days of Future Past, Three Billboards in Ebbing Missouri, Avengers: Infinity War, Rememory, Pixels, Find Me Guilty, I Think We’re Alone Now (which he produced), The Boss, and HBO’s My Dinner with Herve (which he produced). 

Most recently, Peter Dinklage was seen in Netflix’s I Care A Lot and heard in The Croods: A New Age. He also lent his voice to the podcast series, Heads Will Roll. Next, Dinklage is set to star in Cyrano — a performance that’s already garnering acclaim. He’ll also appear in and produce American Dreamer. Currently, Dinklage is filming The Toxic Avenger, Hitpig, and Brothers, which the actor will produce. 

Faizon Love and Will Ferrell in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Faizon Love (Gimbel's Manager/Wanda)

In the role of Wanda, Gimbel’s overworked manager, Faizon Love was a last-minute replacement for Wanda Sykes in Elf. Prior to his performance in this film, the actor was known for playing Wendell Wilcox in The WB’s The Parent ‘Hood. Love is also known for his film debut, lending his voice to the role of Robin Harris in Babe’s Kids. His other film credits include Friday, The Meteor Man, Don’t Be a Menace …, 3 Strikes, The Players Club, Blue Crush, and The Replacements. 

Following his time in Elf, Faizon Love starred in ABC’s short-lived series, The Big House, and last year’s Bulletproof 2. He also notably appeared in Torque, Who’s Your Caddy?, Couples Retreat, Idlewild, Just My Luck, The Fighting Temptations, The Paperboy, and Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son. Additionally, Love starred in YouTube Red’s Step Up: High Water. Most recently, the actor was seen in She Ball and The War with Grandpa. Next, Love will appear in Off the Grid Comedy: Belize, Trading Soles, Back on the Strip, and Block Party. The comic's other upcoming projects include Friendship Day, Social Redemption, and The Fastest Man Alive

Amy Sedaris in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Amy Sedaris (Deb)

Playing the part of Deb, Walter’s belabored secretary, Amy Sedaris has a cheery supporting role in 2003’s Elf. Most notably, the actress co-created and starred in Comedy Central’s Strangers with Candy, along with its prequel film of the same name. Sedaris also created and starred in Comedy Central’s Exit 57. Additionally, the actress was seen in Maid in Manhattan, School of Rock, and Six Days, Seven Nights. Following Elf, Sedaris lent her voice to the role of Princess Carolyn in Netflix’s acclaimed animated series, BoJack Horseman. She can also be seen in Alpha House, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Mandalorian, and The Heart, She Holler. Moreover, Sedaris created and starred in truTV’s Emmy-nominated surrealist series, At Home with Amy Sedaris, which ended earlier this year.

Furthermore, away from television, Amy Sedaris can be seen in Snow Angels, Romance & Cigarettes, Stay, Jennifer’s Body, Old Dogs, and I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With. She also reunited with Will Ferrell in Bewitched. Additionally, Sedaris can be heard in Shrek the Third, Puss in Boots, My Life as a Courgette, and 2019’s The Lion King. Most recently, Sedaris was seen in Save Yourselves! and heard in The Boss Baby: Family Business. She can also be heard in No Activity, Robot Chicken, and DuckTales. Sedaris also guest-starred in HBO’s Betty. Next, the film-TV actress will appear in Dave Franco’s Somebody I Used to Know. 

Ed Asner as Santa Claus in Elf

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Ed Asner (Santa Claus)

As the immortal Santa Claus, the late Ed Asner will live on as Father Christmas in the modern holiday classic, Elf. Fondly remembered for his performance as Lou Grant in CBS’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Lou Grant, for which he won seven Emmys, the actor was also acclaimed for his Emmy-winning turns in Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots. He’s also warmly remembered for his lead voice role in Pixar’s Up. His other notable film and TV credits include El Dorado, JFK, The Closer, Dead to Me, Gus, and Cobra Kai, to name only a very select few. 

Even during his final years, Ed Asner remained very active as an actor and voice performer. Earlier this year, for instance, the belated movie star was seen in Senior Entourage, Barking Mad, and Disney+’s Muppets Haunted Mansion. Asner could also be seen in The Premise and Grace and Frankie and heard in Dug Days. His final credits include Awaken, Deadly Draw, Back Home Again, A Fargo Christmas Story, The Gettysburg Address, and The Last Saturday Night. 

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Will Ashton

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.