Will Ferrell Says He Turned Down 'Elf' Sequel Despite $29 Million Offer
By Paige Gawley
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Will Ferrell opted out of playing Buddy the Elf a second time despite being offered a $29 million paycheck. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the 54-year-old actor reveals why he forewent millions so as to not reprise his role from the 2003 flick Elf.
Ferrell recalls initially being considered that taking on the role as a human that was raised by elves "could be the end" of his career, and being surprised when test screenings of the flick went well.
"[My manager] was like, 'Well, the family one went great, but we could really get eviscerated in this next one. I’m looking at a bunch of what look like USC frat boys about to go in,'" Ferrell remembers. "Then later I hear, no, that group actually liked it, too."
The movie ended up being a hit that made $220 at the box office, and a sequel was soon written. Ferrell ended up passing on the project, though, and turning down millions of dollars.
"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,'" Ferrell explains. "And I thought, 'Can I actually say those words? I don’t think I can, so I guess I can’t do the movie.'"
Ferrell went on to star in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy the next year, and returned to the news anchor role in 2013's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. That sequel, he says, "was a sequel worth having."
Ferrell previously confirmed that there would not be an Elf sequel, quipping on a 2013 episode of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen that it "would look slightly pathetic if I tried to squeeze back into the Elf tights: Buddy the middle-aged elf."
The actor did, however, reunite with the film's stars -- Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Andy Richer, Amy Sedaris, Mary Steenburgen, Matt Walsh and Kyle Glass -- in December 2020 for a virtual charity read in support of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Ferrell's latest role is a darker turn for the actor, as he's once again starring alongside Paul Rudd in AppleTV+'s The Shrink Next Door. In the TV series, Ferrell stars as an anxious, emotionally fragile man who seeks help from a psychiatrist, played by Rudd. Based on a true story, their doctor/patient relationship becomes something darker and more unsettling as the psychiatrist begins to insert himself more and more into his patient's personal life, and manipulate his actions.
ET's Rachel Smith spoke to the actors at the series' premiere in New York City on Thursday, and they revealed the best parts of working together again after co-starring in the Anchorman flicks.
"I think we have a shared sensibility, we love to make each other laugh," Ferrell explained.
"We do, we love to laugh. And we do, a lot!" Rudd agreed. "Will is just the greatest guy and a terrific actor. When you spend a lot of time together on a set -- especially on a set like this, where the material can be emotionally taxing -- it's nice to not only enjoy the people you're working with because you admire their talent but to hang out with someone whose company you enjoy. It makes it so much better."