For starters, Max was played by six (!!) dogs.
Over 20 years ago, Dr. Seuss fans were gifted with a live-action adaption of one of our favorite childhood stories. How The Grinch Stole Christmas made our hearts grow three times bigger when it premiered back in 2000. Although the story has been remade before into several movies, starting with the first cartoon version in 1966 and later in 2018 with Doctor Strange’s Benedict Cumberbatch, it was Jim Carrey’s iconic performance of the green grump and all the cool facts behind 2000’s version of The Grinch that really immortalized it.
“It was fun to play,” Carrey reflected on his role during a 2020 interview with Entertainment Tonight. “Once we got in that when we got in those places, you know even with the suit right, you just can’t help but get carried away with this stuff. The Grinch is a great character.”
But there’s no greatness without some serious hard work and commitment. Not only is the film on record for being one of the most expensive Christmas movies of all time, reportedly making $345 million at the box office, it’s also one of the most challenging. From CIA training to straws up the noses, there are a bunch of nuggets, some more pleasant than others, that contributed to the success of this film. Here are a few cool facts about How The Grinch Stole Christmas from 2000, as well some older factoids, you can share with your kids this holiday season.
Jim Carrey improvised some lines.
“6:30: dinner with myself. I can’t cancel that again.” Nope, that famous line and others were not in the script. Director Ron Howard apparently welcomed Carrey’s creative freedom. For instance, in the scene where he tries on a dress, well a kilt, and Carrey pulls the table cloth off, originally everything was supposed to fall off. But Carrey did it so perfectly the items stayed on the table. Instead, he went back and improvised and wrecked it himself.
“There was lots of improv,” Carrey told Entertainment Tonight. “Like the moment of the behind the screen dressing thing that was not a planned thing. It was, just you know, I just thought it’ll be funny to just have this monster transformation that you want to see how it turns out.”
Jim Carrey spent almost 100 days in costume.
Well, 92 days to be exact, according to ScreenRant. Every scene Carrey shot, he had to be in full makeup. Over the years, he’s spoken about the process and once described it as “being buried alive.” According to Carrey, it took three and a half hours to transform into the Grinch. “It takes, you know, a good hour or so to scrape the stuff off my face and whatever more to get out of it,” he told Entertainment Tonight. But added, “It was an amazing process because like two weeks of absolute discomfort and kind of freaking out about it and thinking I don't know if I'm going to get through this.”
Jim Carrey trained with the CIA.
At one point, the makeup process had gotten so bad Carrey had contemplated quitting. Although the transformation was generally three and a half hours, the first day of makeup apparently took eight and a half hours. To keep the Ace Ventura star in the game, producer Brian Grazer hired a CIA expert to train and advise Carrey on how to endure torture.
“Brian Grazer came in and being the fix-it man and came up with a brilliant idea which was to hire a gentleman who is trained to teach CIA operatives how to endure torture,” he recalled in a 2014 interview on The Graham Norton Show. According to Carrey, suggestions the CIA experts made included eating throughout the day, turning on the TV to distract himself, getting smacked in the leg, punching himself in the leg, and smoking cigarettes (which he used a cigarette holder for so he wouldn’t burn the green yak hair of the costume).
“It was horrifying, it was horrifying,” Carrey added. “I was just like ‘it’s for the kids, it’s for the kids.’” Talk about dedication!
The original Grinch is actually black and white.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at the original 1957 illustration. But when the first adaption of the story was made in 1966, Chuck Jones was reportedly inspired to make the character green after he rented a car painted in an ugly green shade to visit the author, according to CBR. Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, did not want to make any changes to his character, but Jones insisted. As a matter of fact, Geisel did not want any of his work adapted into movies or television series, according to CBR. But the result was a masterpiece and the Grinch has been green ever since!
Jim Carrey sings “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”
Carrey also has some nice vocals! Indeed, he sang the parts to “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” (There’s also a version with rapper Busta Rhymes you should give a listen.) The song was originally written by Dr. Seuss and composed by Albert Hague. Another fun fact? Thurl Ravenscrof, the singer of the original “You’re a Mean One,” was the voice of Tony The Tiger! Ravenscrof voiced the cereal lion for 50 years before his death in 2005.
This isn’t the first time Carrey has performed a Christmas tune. His 2005 duo of “Silent Night” with Conan O’Brien is still making its viral rounds.
We still don’t know what “fa who foraze” means.
But you knew that right? If not, now you do! The Christmas tune is an anthem for the Whos and maybe some of us as well. Geisel wrote the lyrics but never clarified what “fah who foraze, dah who doraze, goowho gums and bizilbixes” means, but according to some sources, the lyrics are meant to imitate Latin. There are some Seuss analysts who believe the “fah who foraze” part may be in reference to veteran voice actress June Foray, who voiced the original Cindy Lou Who character in the 1966 cartoon. There’s also a real-life Whoville called the village of Hu in Norway, which is theorized to be another source of inspiration for the song.
But over the years, we’ve just learned to stopped questioning the late author’s creativity. Trying to understand it would be like trying to figure out how anyone could live 10,000 feet off the top of Mt. Crumpit.
Max is played by six dogs .
We knew there was one reason why we loved Max, or the Maxes, so much. Turns out Max was played by Kelly, Chip, Topsy, Stella, Zelda, and Bo, six mix-breed rescue dogs, according to Humane Hollywood. Trainer Roger Schumacher spent more than three months teaching them certain skills and evaluating their strengths, the organization notes.
Some of the scenes were filmed in front of a blue screen, for example, when the Grinch and Max used the trash tunnel to travel to and from Whoville to Mt. Crumpit, according to Human Hollywood. Also, Max was never freezing in the snow. The flakes were fake and the dogs’ eyes were protected with Opti-Clean eyewash. Also, the screen where Max carries a bag of “hazardous waste”? No worries, it was just a bag filled with lighter bags. And lots of treats were given during rehearsal, they knew they were going to be awarded for it.
Fans think the Grinch may have rescued Max from the garbage.
This is an interesting theory brought up by fans. In the scene, when the Grinch was at Who-ville’s Holiday Cheermister, he said, “That's what it's all about, isn't it? That's what it's always been about. Gifts, gifts... gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts. You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me. In your garbage. You see what I'm saying? In your garbage.”
In 2018, Imgur user Baloo78, suggested the Grinch may have found Max as a puppy in the trash. “He was a Christmas gift that someone got sick of / bored with and threw him in the trash,” the user suggested. “This also explains why Max is so loyal to Grinch despite him being an awful person.”
Queen Elizabeth attended the movie premiere.
Turns out her Royal Highness is a Dr. Seuss fan, too. Queen Elizabeth II attended the Royal Film Performance premiere of the movie at the Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, London in 2000. Like most American celebrities, Carrey had to follow and remember a lot of protocol when it came to meeting British royalty. “Well you know you get a little sheet of paper and it tells you don't do this, don't do that you know,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “It basically says ‘Jim don't act on instinct’, you know, anything that comes into your head, forget it, it’s not allowed.”
Most of the background actors were Cirque du Soleil performers.
Most of the residents in Whoville were professional acrobatic performers. Most of the performers could be spotted in the beginning of the movie in the Who parade. And many of those Whos did their own stunts. Stunt coordinator Charles Croughwell explained the oddness of the characters made the Soleil performers ideal. “The reason we went with Cirque du Soleil performers is because they have all the physical abilities you could possibly need or want,” Croughwell said in a behind the scenes DVD clip of the movie posted on YouTube in 2008, “yet they also have a really strong performance background in very odd characters and odd situations — things that are just completely out of the norm.”
The Whos went to “Who-School.”
Actors and actresses had to go to Who-School with a choreographer and learn how to move and be comfortable being a Who. In a behind-the-scenes interview posted on YouTube from the DVD, Howard explained the process of turning normal human beings into the quirky Seuss residents that live on a snowflake, starting with a few clues the late author left behind. “We just took the couple of clues that he [Geisel] gave us about the Whos in Whoville and they’re over-the-top enthusiasm for Christmas,” the director explained.
The actors trained for three weeks at a dance studio with a choreographer on their mannerisms, reactions, and movement. They also learned how to work on stunt rigs and mini trampolines. The scene where Bill Lou Who, played by Bill Irwin, is trying to put together his bike, Irwin said that was practiced at Who-school!
2nd graders helped design some of the costumes.
Costume designer Rita Ryack didn’t have Santa’s elves to help make the hundreds of Christmas-theme Who costumes, so she hired a few Los Angeles kids. In a 2000 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Ryack explained how she enlisted the help of a few second-graders from Brookside Elementary School in Ventura County to create the costumes for the Whos’ Christmas celebration, the Whobilation, using kid-friendly art supplies. “I thought since the Whos spend their whole year preparing for Christmas, everything would be made by hand,” Ryack told the Los Angeles Times. “Anything you see that looks crude and has lots of macaroni and glitter, they made.”
The actors sometimes had to stick straws up their noses to breathe.
Carrey already dished out the torture of becoming the Grinch, from hours of makeup to CIA training. So, it’s no surprise that the makeup for the Whos was not a challenging task as well. Jeremy Howard, who played Dru Lou Who, talked about the challenges of breathing with a Who nose.
“The nose, the nose... Oh boy... After a while, sure, you get used to having it on every day. But occasionally you have that doozy of a day,” Howard shared with IGN in 2012. “For example, one day my nose had just been adhered to my face and I got an allergic reaction to something. Well, drip, drip, my nose starts running, and I have a soggy prosthetic the rest of the day. Once that puppy's put on your face, that's it. You can maybe shove a straw through the nostrils of your piece and blow.”
But he added the makeup didn’t hinder his breathing too bad and they got a new nose every day.
The movie is full of Dr. Seuss Easter eggs.
If you take a second or third look at the movie, you’ll notice plenty of Easter eggs from Dr. Seuss’ original books. Starting with the statues in Whoville, the statue of an elephant is Horton, the character from the book Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who. Also, there’s the statue at the annual Cheer-mister’s nomination in Who-square that many believe is the image of Thinks from the Oh, The Thinks You Can Think. And let’s not forget Cindy Lou Who’s dinner plate of green eggs and ham.
There’s also a grown-up Easter egg the kids may not notice. In the scene where baby Grinch is delivered outside the door of his adoptive mothers, it turns out the women were not having the usual Who holiday party, but a swingers party! The key clue was the focus on the keys in the bowl. It seems the director and Carrey were reportedly warned by both the studio and Seuss’ widow, Audrey Giesel, to not include any adult or sensitive jokes. But it seems the studio snuck in a few nonetheless.
The Grinch has been part of holiday traditions for decades and yet, we’re still learning new things about the grumpy green dude. And lucky for us, we can look for more hidden details when it airs on TV all December long.
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