(NEXSTAR) – Santa doesn’t smell like “beef and cheese,” at least as far as Macy’s is concerned. The 2003 Christmas film “Elf” produced a number of now-classic scenes, including Buddy’s first taste of the “World’s Best” coffee and his attempt to hug a feral raccoon. But arguably the most memorable scene — when Buddy exposes a department-store Santa as an imposter — was almost scrapped before it was filmed.
In a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, “Elf” director Jon Favreau explained that the scene was nearly nixed in order to appease Macy’s, which had offered to let the production film at Santaland inside its flagship location on 34th Street in Manhattan. Macy’s, however, didn’t like the idea of being associated with an “imposter” Santa Claus, according to Favreau. So if “Elf” wanted to film at Macy’s Santaland, or even mention Macy’s in the movie, the scene had to go.
“We had to think long and hard about it,” Favreau told Rolling Stone in 2013. “We ended up filming it in the cafeteria of a mental hospital in Vancouver instead of Macy’s … because we were unwilling to change the content.”
This also explains why Buddy’s meeting with “Santa” takes place at Gimbels — a long-closed department store chain — rather than any real-life outlet.
“Gimbel’s was a name that was owned by a third party, and we were able to license that and create our own version of it,” Favreau said. “Ultimately, it’s better than having it be Macy’s. It gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted creatively.”
The now-classic scene, in which Buddy (Will Ferrell) realizes “Santa” (Artie Lange) isn’t really Santa, is now among the most quoted from the film.
“You sit on a throne of lies,” Buddy whispers into Santa’s ear just before the two of them come to blows.
Speaking of which, both Favreau and Lange had previously revealed on “20/20” that the fight between Ferrell and Lange was filmed in one take, seeing as they were instructed to demolish the Christmas decorations and Lego displays on the set.
“So we had one take to destroy it,” Lange remembered. “So Favreau says, ‘Just go nuts, but we got one take.’”