It recently celebrated it’s 20 year anniversary and is, without a doubt, one of the classic Christmas films watched by families around the globe every single year, and now a star of Elf has revealed what it was really like working alongside Will Ferrell.
The 2003 movie, which was directed by Jon Favreau, features Will, 56, as Buddy Hobbs – aka Buddy the Elf – an eccentric human who was raised by Santa’s elves and ends up on a quest to find his biological father Walter Hobbs – played by James Caan – in New York City.
The film also stars Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, and Peter Dinklage, but perhaps one of the most memorable characters in the festive hit is the mailroom worker – who Buddy ends up getting drunk with after mistaking his alcohol for syrup.
Mark Acheson is the man who took on the role of Buddy’s unexpected pal and spent almost an entire day on set ad-libbing with Will, and even filmed an epic Christmas carol singing scene that was cut from the film and has actually never seen the light of day.
Will Ferrell stars as the main character in the much-loved Christmas movie Elf
The feel good festive film was released in November 2003 and continues to be a hit at with families all over the world every year
Mark Acheson played the role of a mailroom worker who ends up befriending Ferrell’s character Buddy Hobbs
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, Mark revealed that he was hired to say just two words in the movie, but ended up spending 22 hours on set and as fans will know, he appears in the film more than once.
‘The whole film, the whole movie was a huge surprise to me – both in the way I appeared in it and then what happened, and then how it took off afterwards,’ the 66-year-old actor explained.
‘I was only called in to do one line, I didn’t audition for the movie. Favreau asked if I would come in and deliver one line, which is “work release” and that would be the end of my day. I said, “so I get to work with Will Ferrell? Sure, yeah, I’ll pop in and do that!”
‘And then we went 22 hours long that day and we added all the other stuff, and all of that was a huge surprise to me. That’s indicative of the very last day of shooting. I didn’t know until later on that that was the very last day of shooting for the entire movie!’
Asked how he survived such a long day on set, Mark replied: ‘Well, I’ve done many sixteens. I’ve done lots of sixteens in my career, but 22 is definitely crazy. I showed up on set and they gave me one of the nicest trailers I’ve ever had in my life and I thought, “well, this will be nice, I won’t be here long but I’ll enjoy it”, but then I never got to be in the trailer at all!’
Mark continued: ‘It was the very last photographic day of Elf and that means no turnaround time for the crews, and so that’s why they kept us for 22 hours, and I guess Favreau and Ferrell just wanted to add in as much stuff as they could possibly think of because it was their last kick in front of the camera.’
One scene that never made it into the film – and footage that Mark still hasn’t seen two decades later – involved Buddy the Elf drenching Mark’s character in buckets of water while they were filming the unforgettable dancing scene.
‘The very last thing that Favreau [said]… and this is something that’s really puzzled me… is that we were doing the dancing thing at the very end where Will Ferrell’s dancing on the tables and Jon Favreau goes, “Mark, we want Will to pull a water main down on you and force water down on you and do like a Flashdance sort of thing and we want you to sing a Christmas Carol as loud as you possibly can with the gallons of water coming down on you all at once, and we’ve got the whole set dammed off so we won’t flood the streets, so are you good with that Mark?”
Mark was only hired to say two words, but ended up having several scenes in the movie
The 66-year-old actor confirmed that the scene where he’s laying down next to Will was all ad-libbed
Elf grossed $220 million worldwide against a $33 million budget and continues to be one of the most popular Christmas films
Bob Newhart (left) also stars in the movie and plays the role of Papa Elf, Buddy’s adoptive father and the narrator of the film
‘And I said, “Yes, I’m absolutely golden with that idea!” and they drowned me like a rat! I walked into that trailer at the end of the day, 22 hours later, and I was just completely soaked and drowned and I couldn’t believe what kind of day I’d had!’
The actor confirmed that he still hasn’t seen the footage all these years later: ‘There’s no outtakes or anything like that, which really threw me because I understand it’s not in the movie, I get that, but you’d think something that took two hours to set up would be in the outtakes somewhere but no!’
Mark also spilled some behind-the-scenes secrets regarding the part of the film where he and Will are laying side-by-side and having a laugh after their characters drank a bit too much alcohol.
Referring to their conversation, Mark confirmed: ‘All of it was ad libbed. They put a few notes up on the ceiling, things about age, ideas, where to go to, but they just said ,”have some fun”.
‘It was a real tough gig,’ Mark then joked. ‘Laying next to one of the funniest guys in film and TV and having a laugh. It was one of the easiest shifts I’ve ever done, and Will Ferrell and Jon Favreau… I just followed them along and they were so nice and sweet to me.’
In fact, Mark also revealed that Jon actually had to convince movie bosses to keep his scenes in the movie – because they weren’t impressed with the scene where his character tells Buddy that he’s 26-years-old.
‘I was so happy with with how I was left in that movie, but the producers did want to cut me out of the whole picture and Favreau had to fight for me,’ Mark divulged.
‘They said, “Who the hell is gonna believe this guy is 26-years-old?” and Favreau went, “that’s the joke!” I mean, I was actually 46 when I delivered that line!’
Zooey Deschanel plays the part of Jovie, an unenthusiastic worker at toy store Gimbels and Buddy’s love interest
Will and director Jon Favreau at the New York City film premiere of Elf in November 2003
The Chronicles of Riddick actor admitted he’s ‘gotten so much work’ off the back of starring in Elf, but had no idea at the time that the movie was going to be such a huge success.
‘I was really amazed and and I didn’t know it was going to take off that big, and I certainly didn’t know it was going to become a classic,’ he said. ‘I’ve only done two or three like this that are sort of similar, but this takes the cake for sure.
‘I’m always tickled when I get a residual check from Elf because it’s always substantial and it never decreases, and I love that because it’s sort of like my retirement account, because I’m 66 now and I’m semi retired.’
However, despite his fond memories of working on the film, Mark admitted that he doesn’t watch Elf every single December: ‘I do watch it every once in a while but I don’t watch it every Christmas like other people are forced to!’
‘It’s been a great benefit to me because it’s like free advertising for my career over and over again every year. But I did look at it a couple of weeks ago because I was going to Las Vegas for a convention to sign autographs, and I looked at it and I thought, “this is a well-crafted movie”. It was done well, it really was.’