Child Star Daniel Tay Unrecognizable 20 Years After Starring In Elf


Holiday movie ElfHoliday movie Elf

Daniel Tay appeared as Michael Hobbs in the 2003 Christmas movie Elf. He made his acting debut on Elf, which opened him up to more gigs; however, the child actor has grown into an unrecognizable 31-year-old thriving in the academic and health sector.

He co-starred alongside Will Ferrell who played his TV older brother, Buddy. In the movie, Santa’s elves raised Buddy and later traced his origins to New York City to meet their father, a children’s book publishing executive.

Tay’s subsequent roles

After playing Michael, Tay landed the role of Young Harvey Pekar in American Splendor, followed by more parts like Artie Lange’s Beer League’s Max and Brooklyn Rules’ Young Bobby. He voiced the titular character in the 2005 cartoon Doogal and worked for video games like Bully as Pedro De La Hoya and Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony as Bill Blue.

Tay left acting and pursued an Economics degree at Yale University, where he reportedly served as a Teaching Assistant and Peer Tutor in the Department of Computer Science. He also received a Richard U. Light Fellowship for his studies in Mandarin Chinese language at the institution.

Holiday movie ElfHoliday movie Elf
ELF, Daniel Tay, Will Ferrell, 2003, (c) New Line/courtesy Everett Collection

Tay’s career pivot

Tay worked briefly as an instructor for the SAT, after which he became a research fellow at Columbia University. The SAT website commends him as someone who “believes that teaching and learning are expressions of the basic human need for mutual understanding.”

“With this in mind, he works with students to cultivate relationships based in clarity, humor, structure and respect,” it further stated.

Holiday movie ElfHoliday movie Elf
ELF, Daniel Tay, James Caan, Will Ferrell, 2003, (c) New Line/courtesy Everett Collection

Per his LinkedIn profile, Tay, who is currently studying medicine, now tutors through a company, Bespoke Education, and volunteers inpatient services at the New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. Although he left the world of movies, Tay left a mark by playing a significant role in the holiday fan favorite, Elf.


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