Eight Things You Might Not Know About Olaf
- Olaf, the lovable snowman from Frozen, has quickly become a favorite Disney character, ranking up there with the Genie from Aladdin as one of the great “comic relief” characters of all time. It’s appropriate then that “Olaf” is Nordic for “treasure” (or more specifically, “ancestor’s heirloom”) and doubly appropriate that his name is pronounced “oh, laugh,” a punning reference to his humorous antics.
- Olaf was animated by Hyrum Osmond, who also brought to life such characters as Rapunzel and Maximus
from Tangled, Ralph and King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph, and Meg and George from the short film, Paperman. Osmond based many of Olaf’s movements on that of his son, as he wanted to make the character appear childlike.
- The childlike characterization of Olaf was actually integral to the story. Since Elsa creates Olaf when
she and Anna are still young, the team wanted it to appear as if a child had created him, which is why Olaf is somewhat misshapen.
- Josh Gad provided the voice of Olaf. Gad was no stranger to chilly characters, as he had also played the part of Louis, the hedgehog from Ice Age: Continental Drift. He also played (onscreen) Apple Computer’s co-founder Steve Wozniak in the film Jobs, a biographical drama based on the life of Steve Jobs, who was also
the co-founder and CEO of Pixar (which made him the largest single shareholder of the Walt Disney Company).
- In order to create the snow effects in Frozen, new simulator software was developed that employed advanced mathematics to realistically render the snowy environment. One of these software tools was dubbed Spaces, and was created specifically to allow the animators to break apart and rebuild Olaf’s deconstructible components.
- Olaf was originally intended to be Elsa’s obnoxious sidekick. When director Jennifer Lee came on board, one of her first acts was to alter the character of Elsa, who was originally depicted as being evil from the very
beginning. The change also allowed Olaf to be transformed into Anna’s comic sidekick. Lee later stated that Olaf was “[by far] the hardest character to deal with.”
- It could have been worse! Well before it was decided that Olaf would be a snowman, early concepts had him as a penguin!
- Other early design concepts included lots of different items for, of all things, Olaf’s eyebrows. All sorts of things were considered, such as grass and twigs. Eventually Olaf received the bark-like brows that he sports in the final film. However, one concept that was always in place had to do with his elbows. If you watch carefully, you’ll note that they never bend, except during his fantasy sequence “In Summer.”