It’s hard to imagine a holiday season without the Grinch. Over the course of just a few years, everyone’s favorite enemy to holiday cheer ironically became one of the biggest symbols of modern Christmas. From the original 1966 animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to the troubling history of its film adaptations, Dr. Seuss’s the Grinch has certainly left his furry green impact on yuletide history. What Christmas media franchises, after all, have can claim they pushed tenured actors to their mental limits in CIA training? Steal a stocking and learn more to these 42 grumpy facts about the Grinch.
43. I Break for Christmas Presents
For a time, Dr. Seuss’s drove a car with the license plate reading “GRINCH.” Imagine giving that ride a speeding ticket.
42. Think Pink (and Then Don’t)
It’s hard to imagine the Grinch as anything but green—but someone almost did. Everyone’s favorite hairy grump was originally going to be as black and white (with pink eyes to boot) as he’s drawn in the books. Luckily, animator and director Chuck Jones made the last decision to go green for the original version.
41. Here’s Jimmy!
Jack Nicholson and Eddie Murphy were both considered to play the Grinch in the 2000 film. Of course, the role ultimately went to Jim Carrey, but can you imagine Nicholson bringing that Shining twist to the Christmas character?
40. Performance Takes Patience
In total, Jim Carrey spent 92 days in that monstrous Grinch make-up. It took the actor eight and a half hours to get in costume and another hour to take it off. No wonder he needed really special help staying in character…
39. Mountain Buddies
Our latest Grinch, Benedict Cumberbatch, sees a lot of connections between his animated character and his motion-capture role as Smaug in The Hobbit. To quote Cumberbatch, “For this character, a little bit like Smaug, he lives in a mountain and he’s quite angry and isolated and alone, so apart from talking to Max, who doesn’t verbalize, it helped for the character in this instance. It does get very weird if you’re doing quick-fire dialogue and you’re not in the room with the people you’re acting with.” If we were in English class, this take would get an A+ for cool connections, Ben!
38. Making Up for It
As a live-action remake, How the Grinch Stole Christmas wasn’t the most critically successful film of all time…but it did win the Academy Award for Best Make-Up that year at the Oscars. How many films with higher Rotten Tomatoes scores can say that?
37. Take That, Dorothy
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) holds the record for most make-up used in an entire production. It finally beat out the previous record-holder, The Wizard of Oz (1939).
36. A Nightmare Before Christmas Production
Before Ron Howard joined the production, Tim Burton was in the running to direct 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Look, we all love A Nightmare Before Christmas, but how about we let someone else direct the quirky holiday cheer?
35. Don’t be a Yellow Belly About Yellow Eyes
It wasn’t just the fur and skin which caused problems for Jim Carrey in his Grinch get-up. The actor also struggled to wear the Grinch’s yellow eye contacts, which irritated him greatly. Some of the yellow eyes had to be added via computer in post-production.
34. Duolingo Doesn’t Have a Dictionary for That
In the original cartoon broadcast, viewers actually believed that the “Fahoo Fores” song chanted by the Whos was real Latin. Broadcasters received mail asking for the lyrical translation—this was in the days before the Internet. Unfortunately, the song was only written to imitate Latin as authentically as possible. I guess they did their job too well.
33. Left On Read
Unsurprisingly, the book remains a big hit in the classrooms. In 2007, the National Education Association ranked How the Grinch Stole Christmas! as #61 in their “Top 100 Picture Books” survey.
32. Late Bloomer
In terms of reviews, the original Grinch special was like fine wine: it needed to age to be appreciated. After its debt in 1966, one critic shrugged it off as “probably as good as most of the other holiday cartoons.” Today, it has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
31. My Grinch is 100% Made in America
For the 2018 animated film, Benedict Cumberbatch was originally told to do this natural British accent for the Grinch. However, Cumberbatch insisted he do an American voice. After all, everyone else in the movie is American and it might raise too many questions.
30. Swing Me By My Name
Cindy Lou in the CGI-animated film rides a baseball bat with the name “Theodor” on it. It’s an obvious homage to Dr. Seuss’s real-life name, Theodor Seuss Geisel. That’s how you do a name-drop.
29. Kill Them With Kindness
The Grinch (2018) holds the dubious honor of being the first Grinch film where the titular anti-hero doesn’t abuse or act cruelly to Max the Dog.
28. Less Is More
Benedict Cumberbatch says the one holiday tradition that gets him in the most “Grinch”-like mood is “excess packaging.” He ranted on how it gets everywhere, not to mention the terrible impact on the environment.
27. Whine Them and Dine Them
Cindy Lou is passing Max a plate of green eggs and ham in the final scene of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). This is a coy reference to Dr. Seuss’s other literary masterpiece, Green Eggs and Ham.
26. What Are You Yakkin’ About?
Jim Carrey’s infamous Grinch costume is made from dyed green yak hair, which had been sewn onto spandex. Cozy and slimming!
25. Not Your Grandpa’s Grinch
Following the original cartoon’s controversy with the censors, the 2018 adaptation is the first animated film from Illumination Studios to be rated PG instead of G. By my math, it’s only a few more decades until we finally get an R-rated Grinch
24. Twenty-Four Hours or Less
Sir Anthony Hopkins completed all his narration for How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) in a single day of recording. What a professional.
23. Here Comes the Sun
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) used performers from Cirque de Soleil for its stunts.
22. Nothing to Raise Your Brow At
You can’t harp on a guy for helping out: Jeremy Howard (who plays Drew Lou Who) shaved his own eyebrows to make it easier for the make-up crew. The makeover cut their prep time on his look in half. We’re sure they appreciated it.
20. Good Girl
Max is actually played by a female dog in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Her name was Kelley.
19. Mean and Metered Rhyme
The Grinch actually made his literary debut in Dr. Seuss’s 32-line illustrated poem, “The Hoobub and the Grinch.” And he didn’t even get first billing!
18. We’ve All Crammed a Paper
As a book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was written by Dr. Seuss in a matter of weeks. Seuss was hot off the heels of his success with The Cat in the Hat and this was the first book he wrote after founding his new publishing house, Beginner Books.
17. Everyone Thinks Better on a Full Stomach
Although the book was easy to write, Dr. Seuss found the ending incredibly hard to nail. To quote Seuss, “I got hung up getting the Grinch out of the mess. I got into a situation where I sounded like a second-rate preacher or some biblical truism.”
The ending finally came to Seuss when he literally sat the Grinch down for dinner: “I showed the Grinch and the Whos together at the table and made a pun of the Grinch carving the ‘roast beast.’ … I had gone through thousands of religious choices, and then after three months it came out like that.” A bit of bread-breaking is all it takes sometimes.
16. On the Tip of My…
In one outtake, Jim Carrey can be seen biting off the prosthetic nose of Jeffrey Tambor. The cast seems to be having a laugh, but we’re not sure how the make-up department felt.
15. The Revolution Will Be Serialized
Few people remember how the original Grinch movie scored two sequels. As you can tell by the titles, Halloween is Grinch Night (1977) and The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat, neither were Christmas specials nor great classics. At least they both won Emmys, if not a place in our childhoods.
14. Big Bucks for a Little Film
The first animated film almost didn’t happen because they couldn’t find a corporate sponsor. All sorts of breakfast food and candy companies turned them down. Weirdly enough for a story with the line “Perhaps Christmas doesn’t come from a store,” the Foundation for Commercial Banks stepped into to save the day with their moneyed support. Director Chuck Jones noted the irony.
13. The Grinch Needs Green
The first Grinch special was a big-budget production for its day. The final cost rang in at $300,000, which is $2.2 million in today’s cash. For a 26-minute long animated movie, this was bonkers. A Charlie Brown Christmas, for instance, was made for about one-third of the cost.
12. It Takes An Author to Do a Songman’s Job
Dr. Seuss himself wrote the lyrics for every song in the first film. This ensured that every word remained true to the original work.
11. Speaking Up for the Voice Actor
For a long time, the voice behind the iconic song “You’re Mean One, Mr. Grinch” went without credit. Thurl Ravenscroft—in addition to having the most wicked name ever—had voice-acting clout as Tony the Tiger and lent his pipes to the soon-to-be classic tune.
However, due to bad crediting, people wrongfully assumed that narrator Boris Karloff did the song. Standing by Ravenscroft, Dr. Seuss himself deeply apologized and pressured all the major press to publish a correction which gave the singer his due.
10. Nothing Like Animal Endangerment to Kill Time
It’s harder to fill a 26-minute timeslot than one would think. To reach their time quota in the original special, Chuck Jones engineered the climax where Max is tied to a sleigh when it goes down the mountain. This beat is not in the original books, which can be read aloud in approximately 12 minutes. Tread very slow, Max.
9. Man’s Best Friend and Audience-Insert
Chuck Jones’ favorite character is Max the Dog. The director felt Max’s experiences directly paralleled the audience. Minus, we assume, walking on all fours and sniffing the Grinch’s feet. We hope.
8. Seeing Green
The Grinch got his color after director Chuck Jones rented a car in a shocking shade of green. After that kind of nauseous experience, we guess you have to work out your emotions through film.
7. Thanks for the Comparison
Art imitates life, at least according to Dr. Seuss, when he saw the Grinch’s character design. The author told director Chuck Jones that “That doesn’t look like the Grinch, that looks like you!” I’m not sure if he was complimenting Jones or not.
In any case, Jones simply shrugged and said, “Well, it happens.” Hey, there are worse things to look like.
6. This Looks Like a Job for the Feds
To survive the long hours in the make-up chair, Jim Carrey reached out to a trainer of CIA operatives who specialized in teaching agents how to endure torture. With their help, Carrey was able to complete the movie. In the actor’s words, the sweet sounds of the Bee Gees also got him through.
5. Inception But With Acting
When he “auditioned” for the role of The Grinch, Jim Carrey was already deep into his process of method acting for his role as Andy Kaufman in The Man on the Moon. Refusing to break the character as Andy Kaufman for anything, Carrey instead played Andy Kaufman doing an impression of Jim Carrey doing an impression of the Grinch. In other words, it was technically the late Andy Kaufman who snagged the part.
4. The Camera Adds Ten Pounds and Removes Hair
Jim Carrey once mistook his Grinch director Ron Howard for a stunt double. Howard felt bad that Carrey was forced to spend so much time in the brutal Grinch suit, so he decided to dress up as the character to show solidarity—the only problem is, Howard doesn’t exactly look like Carrey. When Carrey saw that the supposed stunt double looked absolutely nothing like him, the actor became furious at the perceived miscasting. Of course, they had gotten onto the set at 3:30 AM to begin make-up, so we can understand how they were all vulnerable to confusion.
3. Rotten Egg On Your Face
Once upon a time, some scenes in the original animated Grinch were considered too disturbing for general audiences. As a result, there is a censored version where the lyric “You’re a rotter Mr. Grinch” was cut from the song. We wouldn’t want kids calling their parents “rotters” now would we?
2. Bedtime Is Not Fun Time
Likewise, the censored version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! excluded an “inappropriate” scene where the Grinch smiles just a bit too eerily as he lurks towards a bed of Who children. The scene was considered too disturbing to air on some networks. Maybe not a bad call…
1. The Jim Carrey Cinematic Prank Universe
While filming of the 2000 remake, Jim Carrey spent his downtime pranking civilians on Universal Studio tours by jumping out of the nearby Bates Motel set (from the movie Psycho) and brandishing a knife at the group. He did this dressed not as the Grinch, but as Ma Bates.
When asked about the confusing network of references in his hijinks, Carrey replied he was just trying to channel the creative energy of unpredictable Andy Kaufman, who he was also playing in Man on the Moon. He had originally wanted to recreate this prank in the full Grinch make-up, but the studio vetoed that too-scary idea. If your head is spinning at this confusing mix of film references in a single fact, you now know how the tourists felt.