According to the DVD special features, the prosthetic make-up Jim Carrey wore, took about three hours to apply, and one hour to remove. It is rumored that Carrey felt so confined and uncomfortable in the latex skin that he sought counseling from a C.I.A. Agent, who taught him torture-resistance techniques.
The scene where The Grinch is directing his dog, Max, before stealing Christmas, is Jim Carrey making fun of Director Ron Howard, imitating his style of directing. Howard found the scene hilarious, and decided to include it in the film.
Jim Carrey spent 92 days in Grinch make-up, spending three hours in the morning getting in, and one hour in the evening to get out. According to Carrey, he became a "Zen Master" while sitting in the make-up chair.
Ron Howard was so thankful for Jim Carrey putting up with the uncomfortable hours to apply his make-up, that during filming he himself put on the Grinch suit with full make-up, and directed one day with the suit on. He intended this to be a show of appreciation to Carrey; however, when Carrey saw Howard in full Grinch outfit, he was angered, believing it was a stunt double who "looked nothing like him".
The Whoville set was built mostly on the backlot of Universal Studios behind the Bates Motel. During a break in filming, Jim Carrey surprised and scared tourists on the Universal Backlot Tour, by running out of the hotel wearing a dress and brandishing a knife. Nobody recognized him, and the tour guide at Universal Studios will tell you the story when you pass by the hotel on the Backlot Tour.
Everything in the film revolves around a swirl, like the original drawings of the book. This includes the clouds. In several scenes, the initials "C.H.", "J.C.", and "R.H." briefly form as the clouds move. They stand for Clint Howard, Jim Carrey, and Ron Howard.
Audrey Geisel came to the set of Man on the Moon (1999) to see if Jim Carrey was right to play the Grinch. He was so deep into the character of Andy Kaufman, however he had to essentially do an impression of himself doing an impression of The Grinch, and that was what got him the gig.
The photo of The Grinch in the Whoville newspaper, has The Grinch in the same pose as an infamous alleged photo taken of "Bigfoot", or "Sasquatch" from the Patterson-Gimlin film. Another Christmas movie, (Elf), would similarly feature it's main character, (Buddy the Elf), walking near central park and mimicking the walking style of Bigfoot/Sasquatch.
The original Grinch was not green. Like everything else in the book, he was black and white with some red and pink splotches, but Ron Howard wanted the film to also be an adaptation of the Chuck Jones cartoon.
Some statistics: Make-up appliances used during production: approximately eight thousand. Props created for the film: over three hundred - Number of ornaments: over eight thousand. Number of candy canes: one thousand nine hundred thirty-eight. Crushed marble used for snow on Who suburbs exterior sets: one hundred fifty-two thousand pounds. Outfits created by wardrobe: four hundred forty-three. Number of sound stages used: eleven. Make-up artists used on busiest days: forty-five. Styrofoam used to build sets: two million linear feet (or six miles, if it was cut into standard board length).
Suss Cousins, a Los Angeles-based sweater designer (whose first name is pronounced just like Dr. Seuss), along with two other knitters, produced two hundred fifty pieces of original knitwear for this movie (including eight identical red-striped sweaters for Jim Carrey) in four months. That works out to 83.3 sweaters per person in just one hundred twenty days, which is quite amazing, as all were hand knitted.
After The Grinch leaves Whoville for the second time, the camera pans up and a statue of an Elephant can be seen, in reference to "Horton Hears a Who." Jim Carrey would later go on to voice Horton in the animated film of the same name.
In the original adaptation of the Grinch, the Grinch's main dislike of Christmas, is due to the loud noise and extreme gluttony. However, for the movie, an extensive backstory was created to explain why the Grinch dislikes Christmas.
Author Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel) and (after his death) his widow had been approached previously to authorize a live-action version of the story. But Seuss was unhappy with his previous live-action effort, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, and turned down any such proposals. But then, after the success of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, Mrs. Geisel saw the potential of a live-action interpretation.
Cinematographer Donald Peterman's final film, before his death in 2011. He was unable to shoot any more, due to the injuries he sustained in an accident on the set of Mighty Joe Young (1998). He found it difficult working on this film, due to the after-effects of his injuries, and by the end of shooting, much of his work had been taken over by his son, Second Unit Cinematographer Keith Peterman.
Jim Carrey admitted to feeling ashamed for not trying to prevent some of the adult humor in this film, and has repeatedly stated that all of the jokes he ad-libbed were age appropriate. He then found out that Ron Howard had removed many other jokes that were even raunchier, but had to keep some of it, due to what they both claim as "studio interference".
The casting of Sir Anthony Hopkins as the narrator, mirrors the casting of the horror genre great Boris Karloff in the original animated movie, in that Hopkins had a career revival in the Hannibal Lecter franchise.
Despite the fact that their characters were in the same class as kids, Jim Carrey is considerably younger than the actors playing his former classmates. Christine Baranski (Martha May Whovier, the Grinch's love interest) is ten years older, and Jeffrey Tambor (Mayor MayWho, the Grinch's arch rival) is eighteen years older.
When the Grinch (Jim Carrey) is trying to drown out the noise of the Whos singing, he hits his head, right before using the giant monkey bashing the cymbals, and he says, "Owie!" He says the same thing, in the same tone, as he says it in Liar Liar (1997), when he bangs his head against the bathroom wall while standing at the urinal, trying to think of a way to get the case postponed.
Before his death in 1991, Dr. Seuss had refused offers to sell the film rights to his books. His widow Audrey Geisel announced she would auction the film rights of How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1998.
Mount Crumpit and Whoville are based on two real-life locations, just north of Dr. Suess' hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts. Mount Crumpit is based on Mount Tom, a one thousand two hundred two-foot peak, that overlooks the town of Easthampton, just as the Grinch's mountain overlooks Whoville.
When the grinch pulls the sheet off the table all the silverware was scripted to fall off with the sheet. Jim pulled the sheet off so well that when nothing came off he went back ruined the table himself.
The Grinch has two similarities to Jim Carrey's character Stanley Ipkiss (the Mask) in The Mask (1994). The Grinch and the Mask are green in appearance (although the Mask is only green in the face), and the Grinch and Stanley have dogs, named Max and Milo, respectively.
Jim Carrey and Sir Anthony Hopkins were both involved in comic books. Carrey played the Riddler in Batman Forever (1995) while narrator Anthony Hopkins went on a few years later to play Odin, Thor's father in Thor (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and Dr. Edward Bailey in RED 2 (2013).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Ron Howard's family showed up in several spots in the movie: his father, Rance Howard, was the Elderly Timekeeper Who, that shouted "Put him in the Chair of Cheer!" His daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, showed up as the young redheaded Who in the quick shot after the Grinch turned the lights in Whoville back on. His wife, Cheryl Howard, can be seen holding hands with the Elder Who when all the Whos gather around the tree, and his brother, Clint Howard, played Whobris, the Mayor's assistant. Another "Howard," Jeremy, appears as Dru LouWho, although he is of no relation to the other Howards involved with the film.
When The Grinch first arrives to Whoville as a baby, he looks through the window at a party. Some Whos are seen dropping keys in a bowl. This is a swinger party tradition. An adult theme that ultimately stayed in the movie.
There's a serious alteration from the source materials, which loses some of the original spirit. In the book and the cartoon, when the Whos wake up and find their presents stolen, they don't care, and sing to welcome Christmas anyway. In this version, they are upset and angry, and need to be convinced to appreciate Christmas.
Jim Carrey (The Grinch) played another Christmas-hating character, Ebenezer Scrooge, in Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009). Happily, both characters become kind and generous at the end of their respective films.
When the Grinch's heart begins to grow, it hurts his chest and he falls to the ground and wounds his hand. He turns back and forth between his two injuries, mimicking a similar gag from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995) in which Ace takes a spear to each leg.