Just when you thought you couldn't learn any more about comedic Christmas classics, the internet goes ahead and surprises you. As it turns out, Ralphie from A Christmas Story's cameo in Elf has been right in front of fans since 2003, and hardly anyone noticed. Actor Peter Billingsley has led a relatively low-key career since he starred in 1983's A Christmas Story, in the iconic role of the kid who just wants a Red Ryder BB gun and occasionally needs his mouth washed out by soap. Fast forward 20 years, and Ralphie makes an appearance in a newer Christmas favorite: None other than Elf, which stars actors such as Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, and James Caan. E! News recently pointed out the incredible cameo.
The best part about this is, Billingsley's Elf role hides in plain sight. He's not just an extra in a scene at Gimbel's, or dancing in the background of a mailroom; he has a name, dialogue, screen time, and everything. If you haven't figured out his role yet, take a few minutes to really think about it. What would be the best role for Ralphie from A Christmas Story's cameo in Elf?
Have you come up with it yet? No? OK, here's a quick video to jog your memory — just don't spit out your egg nog when you realize what's about to happen.
No, you aren't imagining it: Ming Ming the Elf is indeed played by Ralphie from A Christmas Story. How amazing is that? To be clear, Ming Ming is the elf on the right. He's the one that wears glasses and monitors Buddy's progress in Santa's workshop. Of the elves, he's one of the kinder and more gentle ones; he has an important job, and encourages everyone to help cheer up a distressed Buddy. Of course, he's still talking about Buddy behind his back to another elf in another scene, but he's not being outright cruel. He's just venting what's going on at the workshop. After all, a lifetime of a six-foot-four-inch human wreaking havoc on the North Pole is probably going to cause some headaches.
It's amazing that something as fun as that cameo can go undetected for so long. Look closely at Ming Ming's character, and you can even see the resemblance between the elf and Billingsley's Ralphie character. His eyes are still bright blue, his hair is only a slightly darker blonde, and he's still warming icy hearts on Christmas. How amazing that the same actor managed two roles in two iconic holiday films, a full two decades apart? Also, is Billingsley's manager taking on any new acting clients? Just wondering. Also, also, if you happen to know his agent, definitely slip them an extra bonus for the holidays. Whatever the Christmas movie version of an Easter Egg is, a Christmas Story cameo in Elf is definitely it.
As it turns out, Billingsley's role as Ming Ming might not be as random as fans may think. A cursory glance of his IMDb page shows that as he's gotten older, the former child actor transitioned into working behind the camera. He eventually came to produce films that include Iron Man and The Break Up, both of which involve another actor-writer-producer, Jon Favreau. Favreau cameos in Elf as well, as the doctor who does the DNA test for Walter and Buddy. Both Billingsley and Favreau are uncredited in these roles. Elf was released in 2003, and it appears that this was the first collaboration between the actor-producers. It's possible that they had something in the works together already, and threw Billingsley in the uncredited role of lead elf for fun. After all, a Ralphie from A Christmas Story cameo in Elf is a nod to excellent Christmas comedies of years' past, and a tribute to Billingsley's legendary role as well.
If it's possible to shoot your eye out in a good way, this reveal definitely does it. Ho, ho, ho.