Will Ferrell reveals why he turned down a $29 million offer for a sequel to Elf. From director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Mandalorian) and writer David Berenbaum, the Christmas comedy released in 2003 is now considered a holiday classic. The film stars Ferrell as the titular elf named Buddy, though he is actually a human who was adopted and raised by Santa’s elves at the North Pole. When he learns the truth about his past, Buddy heads to New York City to meet his biological father played by James Caan, but is horrified to discover that he is a cynic who doesn’t believe in Christmas.
With a cast that also includes Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, and Bob Newhart, as well as Peter Dinklage, Artie Lange, and Jon Favreau in small roles, Elf now frequently tops lists as one of the best Christmas movies of all time. The film has inspired both a Broadway musical and a stop-motion animated special on NBC. However, there has been constant concern about when Ferrell might return to the big screen for a sequel.
In the past, Ferrell has been open about the fact that he turned down a $29 million offer to star in a sequel to Elf. Now, in a profile by THR, Ferrell explains why he turned down the whopping pay day, saying it was actually an easy decision for him because he wouldn’t have been able to promote the film’s rehashed premise in good faith. Read what Ferrell had to say below:
I would have had to promote the movie from an honest place, which would’ve been, like, “Oh no, it’s not good. I just couldn’t turn down that much money.” And I thought, “Can I actually say those words? I don’t think I can, so I guess I can’t do the movie.”
One of Ferrell’s co-stars on Elf has offered an alternative explanation as to why the sequel failed to get off the ground. Caan says it was because Ferrell and Favreau didn’t get along on set, so Ferrell refused to star in a sequel that the director was also involved in. However, these claims haven’t been corroborated by Ferrell nor Favreau, the latter of which has actually expressed interest in a sequel numerous times and remains optimistic one could happen.
Turning down a payday of that magnitude to maintain creative integrity was an admirable decision by Ferrell since no one would have likely blamed him for taking it, even if the sequel was an uninspired retelling of the first Elf. Ferrell is likely so protective of the property because of what it represents in his career. At the time, he had already starred in Zoolander and Old School in supporting roles, but it was Elf in 2003 that cemented Ferrell as the leading comedic star that he is known as today.