15 Surprising Facts About Your Favorite Holiday Movies

Emily Laurence
15 Surprising Facts About Your Favorite Holiday Movies
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Binge-watching classic holiday movies like Love Actually, Elf, and Home Alone have become just as much of a holiday tradition as baking cookies and giving gifts. But even if you can quote all the lines, we’re willing to bet there’s still a thing or two you don’t know about the making of these movies.

We unearthed surprising factoids—from on-set feuds to casting swaps—about 15 of the most popular holiday movies. Not only will these nuggets come in handy when you’re watching A Christmas Story with your nieces and nephews and want to blow their little minds, they’ll also give you a new perspective on something you’ve likely seen a hundred times.

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Click through for surprising facts—from on-set feuds to casting swaps—behind 15 cult-classic holiday movies.

Love Actually

We think Emma Thompson looks pretty fantastic in Love Actually, but believe it or not, she was actually wearing a fat suit to make her character look a little more frumpy.

Another fun fact? Kris Marshall, who played Colin—the guy who trekked to the United States to get laid—had so much fun filming with three American babes that he worked that day for free.

Photo: Courtesy of Universal


It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Will Ferrell playing Buddy the Elf, but originally, the part belonged to Jim Carrey. The script was written in 1993, and it took 10 years for it to actually happen. By then, Ferrell was a bigger get.

Photo: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

Home Alone

Home Alone has been billed as a movie that’s fun for viewers of all ages, but there’s one person in the film who isn’t exactly a family-friendly type of guy: Joe Pesci, who played bad guy Harry Lime. Pesci reportedly cursed so much on set that director Chris Columbus urged him to say fridge instead of, er, the other word. But when you cast the dude from Goodfellas in your movie, you’re kind of asking for it, right?

Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

It's a Wonderful Life

It may be a holiday classic now, but when it first came out, It’s a Wonderful Life was considered a dud. Also hard to believe: It was actually filmed in California during July. All that snow is totally fake.

Photo: Courtesy of Liberty Films

Four Christmases

If you think Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn had great chemistry in Four Christmases, chalk it up to good acting. They reportedly argued so much on set that it caused filming delays. Vaughn is prone to improvise lines, while Witherspoon is a very rehearsed actress. The two did not get along.

Photo: Courtesy of Spyglass Entertainment

Miracle on 34th Street

It can be tricky filming a movie about Santa starring an eight-year-old, but the magic wasn’t shattered for little Natalie Wood. In fact, she believed costar Edmund Gwenn really was Santa the whole time they were filming. That is, until the wrap party, when she saw him freshly shaven.

Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

A Christmas Story

Even if you always watch TBS’s 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story allllll day long, we bet you didn’t know that the Chinese restaurant scene had some real-life surprises for the movie family. They reportedly had no idea the waiters were going to come to their table and sing. Their laughter is real!

Photo: Courtesy of MGM

The Holiday

This rom-com is surely Jude Law at his most charming. And it’s no wonder: The director had him study Clark Gable and base his character on him. And you know the Blockbuster video store scene with Dustin Hoffman? It was totally improvised. Hoffman was driving by the video store and saw that a movie was being filmed there, and director Nancy Myers created the cameo just for him.

Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Bridget Jones's Diary

Most people know that Renee Zellweger gained 25 pounds to play Bridget Jones, but that wasn’t the only extreme thing she did for the role. She also worked for a month in a real publishing house, and somehow, her coworkers didn’t realize who she really was. She even had a framed photo of then-boyfriend Jim Carrey on her desk, which her colleagues did think was a bit odd …

Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Jingle All the Way

Arnold Schwarzenegger may have had to fight through mall crowds in Jingle All the Way, but he had it easy compared with costar Dan Riordan, who played Turbo Man. Riordan was reportedly so afraid of heights that the role was hard for him to play, and he had to mentally prepare himself for each take.

Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

­ Jim Carrey made for a pretty epic Grinch in the 2000 movie, but Jack Nicholson and Eddie Murphy were also considered for the role. And Carrey really suffered for the part. His prosthetic makeup was so irritating that a Navy SEAL had to teach him some torture-resistance techniques to help him grin and bear it. No wonder the Grinch was so grumpy.

Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures


Serendipity inspires all sorts of good feelings about soul mates and fate. And it seems John Cusack was destined to star in it as well, given some pretty interesting coincidences that occurred. It wasn’t his first movie in which the book Love in the Time of Cholera was mentioned—it’s referenced in his movie High Fidelity as well. It’s also not his first time talking about the Cassiopeia constellation. Cusack points it out to his The Sure Thing love interest too.

Photo: Courtesy of Miramax

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

There’s something special about Clark’s childhood home in the Christmas Vacation movie: It’s the same house featured on Bewitched. But that “house” was actually a Warner Bros. set. Hopefully we aren’t crushing any dreams here.

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Santa Clause

The Santa Clause came out in 1994, at the peak of Tim Allen’s fame, thanks to Home Improvement. The movie even makes a couple Home Improvement jokes. First, when Allen picks up a tool belt in Santa’s workshop and then puts it back down shaking his head, and then when the show’s actor Jimmy Labriola makes a cameo as a truck driver.

Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Just Friends

Anna Faris totally nailed the part of bratty pop-star Samantha James alongside Ryan Reynolds in the rom-com Just Friends. Turns out Paris Hilton was the inspiration for the character. Hilton actually auditioned to play James, but, ironically, she didn’t get the part.

Photo: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

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