Why Will Ferrell refused a $29 million paycheck to star in ‘Elf 2’

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Will Ferrell’s 2003 Christmas film “Elf” has cemented itself as a holiday classic throughout the years.

Despite the cheery flick grossing over $220 million at the box office at the time and even spawning a 2010 Broadway musical, a sequel never came around to fruition.

Ferrell, 54, has been candid in the past about saying no to a $29 million offer to star in a second film. Now, the comedian is opening up as to why he turned down the multimillion dollar paycheck.

“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,’” the “Anchorman” star revealed in a recent profile for the Hollywood Reporter. “And I thought, ‘Can I actually say those words? I don’t think I can, so I guess I can’t do the movie.’” 

The “Saturday Night Live” alum explained way back when, in a 2006 interview with the Guardian about the “Elf” sequel and the $29 million offer.

“That’s what was on offer for it. But I killed the idea of a sequel. I never liked it — $29 [million] does seem a lot of money for a guy to wear tights, but it’s what the marketplace will bear,” he told the publication. “It’s insane, but it’s not my call. The studios perpetuate it and they make it hard to say no.”

He added that turning down the cash “wasn’t difficult at all.” He continued, “I remember asking myself: could I withstand the criticism when it’s bad and they say, ‘He did the sequel for the money?’ I decided I wouldn’t be able to. I didn’t want to wander into an area that could erase all the good work I’ve done – but you watch, I’ll do some sequel in the future that’s crap.”

“Elf” star James Caan previously hinted that Ferrell and director Jon Favreau did not get along on set and thus, axed any chance for a Christmas sequel. Favreau, 55, and Ferrell hated each other so much, that the “Funny or Die” founder refused to star in another “Elf” movie if the filmmaker stayed on.

elf movie
The Christmas comedy starred Ferrell, James Caan, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart and Zooey Deschanel. 
©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Evere

“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 told the radio station 92.3 Cleveland last year. “And the director and Will didn’t get along very well. 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.”

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About the Author: Durkhanai Schuyler