Nearly two decades ago, Will Ferrell did what many would consider to be unheard of in Hollywood, declining an opportunity to film a sequel to a box office sensation in the cult holiday classic Elf, and turning down a nearly $30 million payday in the process.
Looking back, Ferrell doesn’t regret his decision, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “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.’”
Elf co-star James Caan previously claimed Ferrell and director Jon Favreau didn’t get along on set, and their differences allegedly contributed to the sequel never getting off the ground. “We were gonna do it and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I finally got a franchise movie, I could make some money, let my kids do what the hell they want to do,’” Caan recalled at the time.
“And the director and Will didn’t get along very well,” Caan continued. “So, Will wanted to do it, he didn’t want the director, and he had it in his contract, it was one of those things.” Neither Ferrell or Favreau have addressed Caan’s claims.
Following his departure from Saturday Night Live after a seven-year stay, Ferrell starred in the 2003 comedy Old School. He later learned that director Todd Phillips had to fight with the studio in order to keep Ferrell’s character in the film. “There were people who didn’t like the idea of me in that role, but I never found out who,” he said.