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Will Ferrell turned down $29m to star in ‘Elf’ sequel

The actor said he would have had to have promoted the movie “from an honest place”. Will Ferrell called the sequel’s premise “not good”

By Grace Almond

Will Ferrell as Buddy the elf (left) with Faizon Love who played the shop's manager (right). Love shouts at the staff whilst Ferrell's character screams in excitement
‘Elf’ is one of the most successful Christmas films of all time, grossing $220 million (£159.7 million). Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema

Will Ferrell has confirmed that he walked away from a $29 million (£21 million) offer to star in an ‘Elf’ sequel.

‘Elf’, released in 2003, saw Ferrell play Buddy, a human raised by elves who embarks on a journey from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father, played by James Caan. The film is one of the most successful Christmas movies of all time, and grossed $220 million (£159.7 million) against a budget of $33 million (£24 million).

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ferrell spoke about his most iconic role, and how he remembered filming the movie, thinking “Boy, this could be the end.” 

The film garnered strong reviews from critics at the time, although The Washington Post said ‘Elf’ was “the first and possibly the last Will Ferrell star vehicle”. The widely successful film ended with Buddy saving Christmas and making Santa’s sleigh fly by reviving the city’s Christmas spirit.

A sequel to the film was written, but Ferrell turned down a deal which would have paid him $29 million (£21 million). 

The actor described the premise as “not good”. Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema

Asked why he walked away from such a lucrative deal, he explained: “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.’”

Last year, Caan spoke to the radio show 92.3 The Fan and recalled the events leading up to the planned sequel: “We were gonna do it, and I thought “Oh my God, I finally have a franchise movie. I can make some money, let my kids do what the hell they want to do.”

Caan continued: ‘The director and Will didn’t get along very well. Will wanted to do it, and he didn’t want the director. He had it in his contract. It was one of those things.”

Ferrell is also set to star in the upcoming Apple TV+ series ‘The Shrink Next Door’. The dark comedy is based on a true story which was the focus of a podcast of the same name by Joe Nocera.

The podcast tells the story of the therapist Isaac Herschkopf who allegedly abused his relationship with his patients to exploit them for his own personal gain. Ferrell will star in the drama alongside Paul Rudd, Kathryn Hahn and Casey Wilson.