About The Production (Continued)
In addition to
responding to the script, Mary Steenburgen was excited to work with Will
Ferrell, who she says her kids adore. Ferrell returns the compliment, saying
they couldn't have been more fortunate casting Steenburgen, whom he calls a
"great actor who cares about every step of the process."
Robertson concurs, saying that Steenburgen "is a wonderful, extremely funny
actress who was the perfect choice for the role of Emily." Robertson also
has equal praise for Zooey Deschanel, who plays Jovie, the love interest of
Buddy. "She was great casting for the role because she is also a wonderful
singer," raves Robertson. "She's a cabaret singer, so she did all of
her own singing in the movie. She and Will also have great chemistry
"Zooey has a very
interesting look," comments Jon Favreau. "She has great eyes and a
great face that reminds me of silent film stars. She also has a very quirky
quality that worked well opposite Will. I didn't want to cast in a direction
that seemed unrealistic. I believed that she would end up with this elf."
Favreau also fell in
love with Daniel Tay, who was the first actor seen for the role of Michael. A
real New York kid, Tay helped out with the script by informing the adults what
kids his age are actually into. In return, he says, he was rewarded with
"the opportunity of a lifetime" and hopes to "get another chance
to work with people of this caliber, this status, in the business. Making this
movie was spectacular and life-changing."
All, however, save
their greatest praise for Will Ferrell. "Will has such a well defined sense
of himself," comments producer Jon Berg. "He's really gifted
physically. And he's incredibly understated: with just a raised eyebrow or a
look he can crack you up. Will is like Peter Sellers: he can make a mundane
situation really funny just by the way he manipulates his body."
Steenburgen adds, "Will can be very shy and quiet; he's not a show off.
But just when you least expect it, he'll say something and twenty minutes
later you're still trying to stop laughing. That actually happened on the
first rehearsal when I met him. He's really delicious to be around in every
way, because he's a good guy. And he's also a huge talent."
"In this film
everybody had to play it straight except for Will," James Caan notes wryly.
"It was like walking through a room of elephants having to make believe
everything is normal and that was hard to do. It takes a greater level of
concentration, you know, not to see the elephants."
Komarnicki feels that Ferrell's style harkens back to an earlier age,
believing that "Will is a genius because he combines the silent acting and
disciplined comedy of Jacques Tati and Charlie Chaplin with an acrobatic
intellect. His ability to explode with vulnerability or implode with happiness
makes it impossible to take your eyes off him. You are always waiting to see
what he'll do next."
Though Buddy the elf is
not a gritty, realistic character, Ferrell was committed to creating a real
person. "I'm more of a fan of playing comedy as real as possible, as
opposed to trying overtly to be funny," the actor notes. This meshed well
with Favreau's hopes for the character. "Jon is real
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