- “Oh. I don't know why, but I've always loved the idea of summer. And sun, and all things hot.”
Official Disney Bio
- He's Olaf and he likes warm hugs. Sprung from Elsa's magical powers, Olaf is by far the friendliest snowman to walk the mountains above Arendelle. His innocence, outgoing personality and uncanny ability to disassemble himself at good and not-so-good times lead to some awkward, albeit laughable moments. He may also have the world's most impossible dream, but what he doesn't know won't melt him—or will it?
In early versions of the movie, Olaf was supposed to be one of the first guards of Elsa's castle when the concept of Elsa controlling a legion of menacing snowmen was still in the story (notably, the only snowman minion to remain in the film would be Marshmallow). Chris Buck compared that version of the character to a trial run of someone's first pancake where the cook throws out the pancake when the cook finds out that it is burnt on the bottom.
In this version of the film, according to Jennifer Lee, Olaf was acerbic and often came off as mean-spirited as his attitude and persona greatly differed from what he would become in the final project. This actually led Jennifer Lee to advise the filmmakers to revamp the character entirely once she came onto the project.
In order to keep him from getting too complex, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee wanted Olaf to have a childlike innocence. Akin when a child makes a snowman for the first time where the heads are never perfect, and the body is disproportionate. That was the idea for the directors when they were thinking what kids would think of a snowman.
Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, did plenty of improvements during the course of the recording sessions. But the directors were very careful not to have him in too many of them or risk him taking over the story. He is there to interject levity to the scenes. But they also gave him proper screen time. One of his major scenes will be when he sings his musical number "In Summer", which the songwriters Bobby and Kristen Lopez wrote specifically to fit Gad's vocal talent, as the two were fans of Gad's previous work.
Olaf had to earn his place in the film. Jennifer Lee says that he couldn't just be thrown in, that he had to have a purpose, and one of his purposes is that he is the embodiment of the love between Elsa and Anna.
- “When Elsa flees Arendelle...she starts playing with the very magic she’s been hiding for so long. The snowman she creates comes form memories of the happy times she shared with Anna when they were young. Olaf represents that pure innocence and childhood joy.”
- ―Jennifer Lee, Frozen screenwriter
Olaf is goofy and naive, but extremely lovable and caring towards his friends, especially Anna and Elsa. Because he was built during their childhood, Olaf retains the childlike personality that filled Anna and Elsa during those years, appearing to be very whimsical and playful when he returns as an enchanted snowman years later. He takes on aspects of both of the girls as well; he is artistic like Elsa, because when he first speaks, he thinks about what colors would go well with snow and said to Sven that "the sky's awake" when they arrived at Kristoff's home, just as Anna said to Elsa years ago. He has an odd fascination for summer, possibly because young Elsa made him a snowman who loves warm hugs, and according to Olaf, he sometimes fantasizes about what summer would be like for a snowman, completely unaware of the tad consequences of his ambitious dream, making the poor snowman hapless. Olaf is also very giggly and tends to laugh a lot.
Aside from his dominantly goofy side, Olaf is shown to have some intelligence to him, seen during his time with Anna in the library. Here, he teaches Anna what true love is, and that it's putting someone else before yourself, using Kristoff as the perfect example, finally giving Anna the true meaning of love. And after the climax, when Anna sacrifices herself for Elsa, thus breaking the icy curse, Olaf was the first to realize Anna's sacrifice was an act of true love (it didn't have to be romantic), and that act is what saved the kingdom. He is also not as oblivious as he seems, as he was quite skeptical about the Trolls at first when he thought they were just rocks, and even warns Anna to run because he cares for her and thought Kristoff was delusional.
Olaf can also be rather wise-cracking, and is prone to making considerably sassy remarks in several scenes; the most notable example arguably being his jab at Kristoff, calling the mountain man a "funky looking donkey" upon their first meeting. It should be noted that, due to his innocence, Olaf likely makes such remarks without any realization of the slight impudence, meaning he's merely speaking his mind and giving a genuine thought.
Olaf is a small snowman divided into three balls of snow (five, if one counts his feet), though he has the ability to rearrange his appearance at will. Three black rocks modeled as buttons are on his body, one on his midsection and two on his bottom. Underneath his bottom are two stubs of snow that serve as his legs to move around. He has two sticks as arms and three twigs on his head that resemble small strands of hair. Each arm has four points acting as fingers. His head takes up a third of his body, and is oval-shaped with a stretched face. The snow around the top of his mouth is shaped to resemble buck teeth. In between his eyes and mouth is a carrot nose. When he was inanimate, his eyes were also made of rock. However, when living, his eyes are cartoony with black pupils. He also has eyebrows above them. Olaf's body parts are also capable of autonomy, and can be rearranged or separated from Olaf without any harm happening to him. He cannot feel pain either - when he walks onto an ice spike, resulting in the spike passing through his mid-section, he merely looks down and says "Oh, look at that. I've been impaled." and giggles. He seems to be ticklish when Kristoff pushed him away from Sven.
Olaf and Sven star in the animated short used as the teaser trailer for the film. It begins with Olaf wandering around the snowy landscapes of the forest when he comes across a Saffron Crocus flower. Intrigued by its beauty, Olaf takes a whiff which causes him to sneeze, his carrot nose flying off into the center of an icy lake, where's it's spotted by Sven, who's on the other side of the lake. The sight of the carrot was enough to get Sven extremely excited and head onto the slippery platform to fetch it, having Olaf believes he's trying to eat it. A race for the carrot then ensues, and the duo finally reach it, but Olaf accidentally flings it back onto the snowy land. Sven's able to escape the lake and retrieve the carrot before Olaf, much to the snowman's sadness. However, Sven returns and places the carrot onto Olaf's face, revealing he was merely trying to help get it back. Overjoyed, Olaf thanks the reindeer, the two forming a new friendship just before Sven's shedding causes Olaf to sneeze once again, though it's his head that goes flying off as opposed to the carrot.
The Origin of Olaf
- “Do you wanna build a snowman?”
- ―Anna to Elsa
When Anna and Elsa were children, Elsa would use her snow magic to play with Anna. A favorite pastime activity for the two sisters was building snowmen. On one such occasion, Elsa helped Anna build their own snowman who Elsa named Olaf to play with. At this point, Olaf isn't alive, but Elsa does voice him, saying, "Hi, I'm Olaf, and I like warm hugs!", to which little Anna says, "I love you, Olaf!" Many years later, Elsa would exile herself from Arendelle after her snow/ice magic was discovered and deemed dangerous. In the midst of embracing her abilities at her new ice palace home, Elsa recreates Olaf, but because of her greatly strengthened cryokinesis and frigiokinesis, he is enchanted and given a mind and will of his very own, though Elsa was completely oblivious of her newfound creation. However, the enchanted Olaf has no memory of the moments spent with Anna and Elsa as a lifeless snowman years ago.
Olaf then wanders around the mountains alone and blissfully lost, until he bumps into Anna, Kristoff and Sven the reindeer, who seek to bring Elsa back to Arendelle so that she can bring back summer after she accidentally caused an eternal winter. Anna initially panics upon seeing him, incidentally accidentally kicking his head off and tossing it between herself and Kristoff, before throwing his head lopsided onto his body. After putting it up right, Anna decides to add a carrot nose to the snowman, only to accidentally push it into too far. Olaf begins to admire the short end of his new body part, before Anna pushed it out properly on his face. After making introductions to each other (and Olaf mistakes Kristoff and Sven to have the same name as the latter), Anna soon recognizes Olaf and quickly assumes it was Elsa who built him, to which he confirms. Kristoff then tells Olaf of their mission to bring back summer after Olaf constantly asked what their intentions on finding Elsa were. Extremely giddy with the idea of summer and its warmth, Olaf decides to happily guide the group to Elsa's castle, though Anna refrains from telling him about the dangers of summer for a snowman, leaving Olaf comically in the dark.
Return to Elsa
After a short journey, Olaf and the others find Elsa's ice palace, and the little snowman couldn't have been more eager, rushing up the icy staircase and to the main entrance door. However, Anna decides it may be best to enter alone, without Olaf and Kristoff, and request they remain outside for a minute. Olaf does just that, sitting outside beside Kristoff and counts to sixty, rushing inside once he does, completely overjoyed to see Elsa again. His presence proves there's love and beauty in her powers, and remind her of the joyful moments she spent with Anna. However, their childhood memories also remind Elsa of the haunting night when she nearly killed her sister, prompting her to leave the scene, asking Anna to leave once again. Anna refuses to leave without her sister, but the stubbornness only makes Elsa uncomfortable, causing her to lose control over her powers once again and accidentally freezes Anna's heart. Olaf and Kristoff run to her aid, but Anna claims all's well. She tries once again to get Elsa home, but the Snow Queen refuses yet again, forcefully prompting her next action due to Anna's stubbornness.
The Creation of Marshmallow
In order to keep them away, Elsa creates a personal bodyguard named Marshmallow, a giant snowman. Olaf is thrilled to see another enchanted snowman, but is immediately kicked out along with Anna and Kristoff. The harming of Olaf angers Anna, and the princess fiercely (or as fierce as she can seem) throws a snowball at the snow beast, provoking him and leading to a chase. Olaf tells the gang to move ahead as he'll distract him, but with his body dismembered, that immediately proves to be difficult. Anna and Kristoff reach the cliff of a mountain and begin making a snow anchor to lower themselves down safely. Olaf meets up with them seconds before Marshmallow, and tries his luck again in taming the monster, but to no avail. Marshmallow continues his pursuit for Anna and Kristoff, but Olaf tries to battle him, leading the smaller snowman to be kicked over the cliff edge, leaving Anna and Kristoff to be captured by Marshmallow, only to escape due to Anna's quick thinking, causing them both to plummet down alongside Olaf, though they all survive.
Once they recover their energy, Kristoff notices Anna'a hair turning white, rather alarmingly. To help, he takes the gang to a valley filled with mystical trolls. Along the way there, Olaf and Sven bond, forming a friendship, as does Kristoff and Anna, though in a romantic light. Upon arriving in the valley, Anna and Olaf only see what seem to be inanimate rocks. Judging Kristoff to be insane, Olaf urges Anna to run while he distracts him by pretending to acknowledge one of the rocks, just before the trolls awaken and welcome back Kristoff. Olaf joins in the trolls' cheer before realizing he was mistaken about Kristoff's name. Kristoff's adoptive mother, Bulda, believes Anna and Kristoff are a couple and the trolls gather to begin forming a wedding for the two, not realizing Anna's in danger. During it all, the two actually begin harboring affection towards one another, though Kristoff won't admit it in the least, and while that may be, Olaf and Sven are aware of the matter. However, before the wedding is complete, Anna nearly faints due to the powerful curse, and Pabbie, the king of the trolls, arrives upon sensing the magic, informing Anna that if she doesn't perform an act of true love, she'll freeze to death. The friends immediately rush back to Arendelle, believing a kiss from Hans, a prince Anna's engaged to, will break the curse.
Some People Are Worth Melting For
Along the way, Olaf is accidentally separated from the group, and informs them that he'll meet with them at the castle. When he arrives, he finds Anna in the library, on the ground and quickly dying. She tells him Hans betrayed her and was never really her true love, and Olaf doesn't hesitate to start a fire to keep the princess warm. Fearing he'll melt, Anna tells Olaf to leave, but not wanting to abandon his friend, the snowman stays by her side, nearly melting during this time. Still heartbroken by the betrayal, Anna tells Olaf she doesn't even know what love is anymore, upon hearing his inquiry as to whether or not she has any ideas on an act of true love that can save her. Olaf then replies by telling Anna love is putting someone else's need before your own, using Kristoff as an example, thus revealing his true feelings to Anna, much to the princess' surprise. Suddenly, the library's window bursts open due to the strong winter winds, and Olaf rushes to close it. Before he does, he notices Kristoff and Sven rushing back to the castle. Knowing Kristoff is truly the one that loves Anna, the two try to head out to meet him, with Olaf aiding the dying princess out of the castle and into the fjords.
However, the powerful storm blows Olaf away, and once he reunites with everyone, he finds Elsa mourning for Anna, who unfortunately froze to death sacrificing her life to save Elsa from Hans. Just as Olaf mourns to this, Anna is miraculously returned to life, and Olaf exclaims that her self-sacrifice for her elder sister was an act of true love. His words help Elsa realize that love is the key to controlling her ability as she thaws Arendelle, bringing back summer. Overjoyed, Olaf smiles with glee, but quickly melts due to the summer heat. Elsa restores him and gives him a small flurry cloud to hover over his body and keep him completely cool, finally allowing the snowman to live his dream of experiencing summer and all its warm wonders.
During the kingdom celebration, Olaf is seen throughout the village enjoying the sights and sounds of the warm season, taking a whiff of some flowers. The pollen causes him to sneeze, however, and his carrot nose lands directly into Sven's mouth. The reindeer doesn't hesitate to suck it up, saddening the snowman. However, this was only a playful trick, and Sven immediately places the carrot back onto Olaf's face, where it belongs, prompting the overjoyed snowman to hug his friend affectionately. Olaf is last seen in the castle courtyard, enjoying the newly made ice skating rink created by Elsa for the kingdom's enjoyment.
Olaf makes a small cameo in the animated mini-series in the episode "Little Birds, Frost and Pine", being built by Anna and Elsa.
Olaf has been confirmed to return in the upcoming animated short.
Olaf has made a few video game appearances so far. In promotion for the film, the tie-in game Frozen: Olaf's Quest centers around Olaf going on an adventure to find gifts for Anna, facing dangers such as the wolves and Marshmallow in the process. Sven is also featured in the game, in a small supporting role.
The snowman's likeness is also featured in the popular Disney INFINITY, as a costume for the townspeople.
Notably, Olaf is also a companion character in the popular app Frozen: Free Fall. He is unlocked upon reaching level 111. His special ability is "Hot Chocolate", which enables him to melt a selected tile, and every tile under it. Before he was released as a companion, Olaf served as the game's mascot, appearing on the game's map, as well as the results board.
During the winter season, Olaf was the host of the winter renditions of both World of Color in Disney California Adventure, as well as Disney Dreams! in Disneyland Paris, alongside Anna. Beginning in November of 2013, an animatronic Olaf began hosting Anna and Elsa's meet and greet in Disneyland, speaking to guests as they wait in line to meet the two princesses. Olaf also appears on Anna and Elsa's float in Disneyland Paris' Disney Magic on Parade. Olaf is also the host character of Olaf's Frozen Ice Rink in Disneyland's Downtown Disney.
Olaf is also set to appear with Anna and Elsa in a Frozen themed float as part of the pre-parade for Mickey's Soundsational Parade in Disneyland.
Currently, Olaf is a co-host (along with Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff) of the Frozen: Summer Fun event at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Notably, he is the center of the sub-activity Olaf on Summer Vacation, where an onscreen Olaf pops up throughout the day, greeting guests entering the park at the iconic Sorcerer Hat. Guests can also pick up their very own Take-Along cardboard Olaf from locations in the park, so he can join you on your summer vacation. And when you share your photos with Olaf on social media, be sure to tag them with #OlafSummerVacation. They may just get selected to appear in that day’s grand finale fireworks show.
Relationships with other Characters
Olaf was based on a snowman Anna and Elsa created when they were young and Elsa appears to have created him as a reminder of her happy childhood memories. When Anna first meets Olaf, she is initially creeped out by the talking snowman but then quickly realizes he is the same Olaf from her childhood when he introduces his name and becomes good friends with him. This is shown as she supports Olaf's dreams of summer and insists Kristoff not ruin it for him and when she was angered when Marshmallow threw him and was willing to confront Marshmallow over the matter.
Olaf returned her friendship as he tried to stall Marshmallow so Anna and Kristoff could escape and again demonstrated when he told Anna to run from Kristoff when he brought them to his family of "rocks" (who were actually the trolls disguised as rocks) and he thought Kristoff was crazy, telling Anna "Because I love you, Anna, I insist you run!" He was even willing to melt to death in order to create a fire to warm up Anna to slow the freezing curse placed on her by Elsa, while comforting her over Hans' betrayal even stroking her shoulders. He also was the one to teach Anna what love was after she felt disillusioned due to Hans' treachery and was the one to inform everyone how it was Anna's act of true love that saved her from dying.
Elsa created Olaf when she and Anna were children, and when she had later exiled herself from Arendelle. Despite the fact their relations aren't explored thoroughly, Olaf seems to care for her deeply and holds admiration towards due to her ability.
When Elsa first saw Olaf alive, she was surprised, but smiled when she saw how much he represented the fun that she and Anna once had. When Olaf started to melt, due to the return of summer, Elsa saved his life by rebuilding him and giving him his own flurry to keep him cool. In the end, he enjoys summer and helps Anna to skate with Elsa, showing that he loves both the sisters.
Olaf immediately grew to like Sven, calling him cute and constantly snuggling his mug. Sven kept trying to take a bite out of Olaf's nose, though Olaf thought he was merely playing and continued to act friendly towards him. At the end of the film, Sven succeeded, but immediately returned it, revealing he was merely teasing, and accepted Olaf's friendship. Their friendship is easily explained by their common traits, being their whimsically childish natures. In spin-off material of the film, Olaf and Sven are featured as a duo, appearing, more often than not, side by side as best friends, sometimes finding themselves in comical mishaps.
Kristoff and Olaf have somewhat of a good friendship and are friendly towards each other. Olaf calls Kristoff as "Sven" before he knew about his new name, and describes him as "funky looking donkey." At first, Kristoff calls him creepy and is confused by the fact that Olaf (being a living, breathing frozen substance) would dream about Summer and being in heat itself. He wants to break the ice and tell the happy snowman that his dream might not be all what he thinks it's cracked up to be, but Anna stops him by smacking him in the arm and scolding him. Kristoff still believes somebody has to to tell Olaf the truth about his dream eventually, but doesn't try to proceed to do it himself.
The moment the snowman met the newly-created Marshmallow, Olaf was excited to meet another like him. However, Marshmallow did not feel the same way, and showed no hesitation in mistreating Olaf. While escaping him, Olaf is the one who gives Marshmallow his name as an off-hand comment, and tries to befriend Marshmallow when the two come face to face, but the snow monster kicks him away out of annoyance.
However, in the tie-in books that take place after the film, Marshmallow appears to have become more childlike, and has grown a newfound friendship with Olaf.
- Since the release of the film, Olaf has gained critical acclaim for his comedy and voice work of Josh Gad, many critics comparing him to Genie from Aladdin, another "comic relief" character that received universal acclaim upon the film's original release. This arguably makes Olaf the most popular character from the film among critics.
- For his work on the film, Josh Gad won the Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production at the 41st Annie Awards.
- In Norway, Olav is a popular male name. The writers likely changed it to Olaf.
- In the film, Olaf represents the happiness Elsa and Anna shared as young children. And, his desire to experience summer is symbolic of how Elsa wants to return to the old days of her childhood with her sister as her best friend.
- Olaf's very creation is an expression of how hard Elsa's self-imposed isolation from Anna was on her. The first voluntary act she performs with her power (as soon she decides to "let it go"), is to build the snowman that Anna spent those long years begging her to make with her. As she creates him, she sings the words "Can't hold it back any more," revealing how dearly she always wanted to go play with her sister whenever she asked her to. It's possible that the sheer intensity of this long held desire was what brought Olaf to life, and if so, Elsa's later surprise when she discovers Olaf is alive may indicate that she never even admitted to herself how just badly she wanted to rekindle her friendship with Anna.
- The destruction of the original Olaf marked the precise moment that Elsa and Anna's happy childhood friendship came to an end. Also, original Olaf, much like Anna and Elsa's friendship, was destroyed by Elsa's power running amok due to her personal distress.
- If you look closely when Elsa was making Marshmallow, Olaf was the only one who was thrilled to see him.
- Olaf may have been inspired by "The Snowman", another Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, where the eponymous snowman falls in love with a warm stove but cannot be with it because he would melt from it. As a result, he does not enjoy the cold weather. Eventually, the weather changes, causing the snowman to melt away.
- As another coincidence, Olaf –– a living snowman who desires to experience summer –– is similar to the title character of a German animated short-film from 1944, "Der Schneemann" ("The Snowman"), about a snowman that comes to life and then wishes so much to experience the summer, that he puts himself into a refrigerator until July. The Snowman then melts away when he goes outside, but does so happily, having had his brief moment to enjoy summer.
- In the film, Olaf's elbows were specifically animated to never move with the exception of his fantasy sequence during "In Summer".
- Olaf was specially designed to appear as if a child had created him, with an uneven shape and such, which is a reference to how Elsa models him at the beginning of Frozen when she and Anna are young.
- Olaf unintentionally showed Elsa how strong her powers are when he sees her at her ice palace. While she created him earlier, she had no idea he had come to life. This evidently was the inspiration for Marshmallow.
- Olaf thinks of Marshmallow as his brother, since they were both created by Elsa, but for different reasons (Marshmallow to get rid of intruders, and Olaf to remind Anna and Elsa to remember their childhood bonds).
- When Elsa created Olaf, during the "Let It Go" sequence, she was still letting loose her reigns and didn't have complete control yet, which explains why she was surprised to find that Olaf was alive.
- Once again, symbolizing her yearning for happier times with her sister. Marshmallow, on the other hand was created for precisely the opposite reason; to keep Anna, and other citizens of Arendelle out. Which is why Olaf is small, kind, and delicate; while Marshmallow is big, monstrous, and tough.
- Olaf plays a similar role to Lumière from Beauty and the Beast. They are both an object which is impossible to be alive (Lumiere is a candelabra, while Olaf is a snowman) and are very close to the protagonist(s). They are both sidekicks to the main protagonist and teach them important lessons about true love. Both almost get melted, but survive. However, they are opposites in one way since Lumiere is a candelabra and therefore can withstand fire, while Olaf is a snowman and needs to stay in the cold.
- As said by critics, Olaf is very similar to Genie from Aladdin in the sense that both are the main comic relief and are the most popular characters from their films.
- Also, they both help the protagonist with achieving their goal, save them from death (Genie saved Aladdin from drowning and Olaf saved Anna from freezing to death by creating a fire), they both have a dream (Genie, freedom; Olaf, experiencing summer), and both are granted their wish by their masters at the end of their films (Aladdin wished for Genie's freedom as his last wish, and Elsa gave Olaf a cloud of flurries that kept him from melting in the summer heat).
- In the Brazilian voice casting, Olaf is going to be dubbed by a Stand-up comedian called Fábio Porchat.
- The animation and staging of the scene between Olaf and Sven during the epilogue of the film is similar to the teaser trailer's animation and staging, right down to Olaf's exclaiming, "Hello!"
- In the original storyboard of Frozen, Olaf was meant to be one of Elsa's soldiers, but ended up as a failed attempt, so she casted him off, and he found Anna and Kristoff. But the idea ended up being scrapped.
- Before being portrayed as a snowman, he was originally going to be a penguin.
- In the blizzard scene, Olaf is blown away into the sky by a strong gale, similar to Scuttle in the storm scene in The Little Mermaid.
- Early on in the film, when Anna and Elsa were seen as kids, Anna tells Elsa "the sky's awake." Olaf would later said this to Sven when they enter the Valley of the Living Rock. Also, as kids, Elsa helped Anna ice-skating with Olaf. Then by the end of the film, Olaf helps Anna ice-skating with Elsa. These are likely to reflect the childhood Anna and Elsa once shared.
- His role resembles that of the sparrows that assist Gerda in The Snow Queen.
- Olaf is Nordic for "treasure". It is also pronounced "oh, laugh", referring to his role as comic relief.
- Olaf makes a cameo in Homer Simpson's video for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.