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Olaf Was Almost Scrapped From Frozen Entirely

"Frozen" famously introduced viewers to the faraway land of Arendelle, where a young queen struggles to keep her mystical powers a secret. Featuring the vocal talents of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff, the film offers a musical adventure with a powerful message at its core, a winning combination that raked in over one billion dollars at the worldwide box office (via Box Office Mojo). The movie also starred Josh Gad as Olaf, the lovable snowman that Elsa (Menzel) inadvertently brings to life when she sings her instantly iconic "Let It Go."

Olaf exemplifies why sidekicks are oftentimes the best part of Disney movies. He's comically naive and helpful, with an adorable face to put on merchandise. Gad's vocals bring an innocence to the snowman that makes the character a funny, heartwarming addition to the story. However, "Frozen" co-director Jennifer Lee recently admitted that her first reaction to Olaf was pretty negative. As reported by Variety, Gad was presenting Lee with an award at the 15th annual Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards on December 4 when she revealed initial thoughts about the character: "My first note was, 'Kill the snowman.'"

Say it ain't so! Lee's comments might seem odd, especially since Olaf is so heavily featured in the movie and its sequel, as well as short form content like "Olaf Presents" and "Olaf's Frozen Adventure." Thankfully, though, Lee has touched on her thought process regarding Olaf's characterization in the past, and her reasoning here isn't quite as harsh as it initially sounds.

Olaf's personality was very different before Josh Gad was cast

For some viewers, Olaf is best seen as a kindhearted side character who provides some much-needed humor to counter the story's heavier moments. For others, Olaf is, most importantly, a physical manifestation of Elsa's powers and the love she has for her sister. However, he wasn't always so sweet. During a 2014 interview on the podcast Scriptnotes, Jennifer Lee told host John August that Olaf was a remarkably different character when she first read the script.

"The thing about Olaf is he was by far, for me, the hardest character to deal with," Lee told August. "And part of it was, you know, we didn't have Josh [Gad] yet," she continued, explaining that Olaf wasn't always the happy-go-lucky snowman audience know and love. "He was half-good and half-bad. He was acerbic. He was a little, I don't know, he just was kind of mean at times. And I didn't know why he existed and I didn't like him."

With this in mind, it's more understandable why her initial notes for every Olaf scene were "Kill the snowman," since — name aside — the snowman she wanted cut wasn't the same snowman audiences later fell in love with. With that in mind, Lee's line of thinking makes sense, given that she has a more complete view of the character's evolution than most viewers do. 

In the end, Lee was convinced to keep Olaf around after a "Frozen" animator presented a new version of the character that was inspired by Gad's signature brand of humor (via Variety). The change cemented Olaf's presence in the narrative, giving Gad the chance to use the singing and comedic skills he honed on Broadway to bring the snowman to life (via Broadway World).