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We Finally Understand Why Elf 2 Won't Ever Happen

Comedy legend Will Ferrell's career has had its share of ups and downs, but when it comes to New Line Cinema's Christmas comedy Elf, the actor and comedian delivered some serious holiday cheer. 

Directed by Jon Favreau and written by David Berenbaum, the 2003 film quickly became a hit among critics and audiences for its blend of endearing goofball humor, as evidenced by its 84% critical score and 79% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie stars Ferrell as Buddy, a human accidentally transported to the North Pole when he was just a baby, who now works as one of Santa's helpers among his army of elves. After discovering who he really is one Christmas, Buddy heads to New York City to meet his biological father to equal-parts funny and heartwarming results. 

Now somewhat considered a Christmas classic, the cast includes Hollywood icons Ed Asner and Bob Newhart, who star as Santa and Buddy's adoptive elf father respectively, Zooey Deschanel as Ferrell's love interest, Mary Steenburgen as Buddy's stepmom, and Daniel Tay as his stepbro. The part of Buddy's biological father is played by the incomparable James Caan. Elf's mix of messages around family, hope, coming of age, and the enduring power of Christmas have inspired impassioned calls for a sequel for years, yet it's never happened. 

Thanks to a recent interview with Caan, the reason we'll likely never see an Elf sequel is much clearer. According to The Godfather and Misery actor, tension and personality clashes between the film's star, Ferrell, and Disney's new favorite director, Jon Favreau, is why fans will probably never see the beloved cast reunite on the big screen. 

"The director [Jon Favreau] and Will didn't get along very well," Caan explained. "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," Caan said in an impromptu interview with local radio show 92.3's "Bull and Fox."

Caan was ready to sign on for a sequel despite nearly turning down his original role

Caan revealed the fate of the Elf sequel after his assistant, who is from Cleveland, called into "Bull and Fox" to discuss the NFL team the Browns' most recent win. The actor eventually joined the conversation, sharing that not only did a sequel almost happen, but he was ready to sign on — a major shift from his reluctance to appear in the first film.

Caan told 92.3 sports talk radio hosts Adam "the Bull" Gerstenhaber and Dustin Fox that he initially turned down Ferrell's request that he star in Elf as his father. "Will called me one night and said, 'Jimmy, want to do this picture with me?" Caan explained. He replied to the request in the negative at first, saying, "Listen, Will, I love you, you're a funny guy, but I'm not doing a picture called Elf, okay?" 

Caan said he negotiated to change the film title to "Elk" on the working scripts as a condition of his casting. "I said, I'll tell you what, if you put a K on the end of it — like just through the working scripts ... then I'll do it," Caan said before adding, "It was great fun with Will. He's a great guy."

Following the Christmas film's success, the Las Vegas actor shared that, while its two biggest creatives may not have been ready for a sequel, he definitely was. "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 said. Elf may not be a franchise, but we're guessing Caan's kids are doing just fine.

It may not just be personality clashes behind why we haven't seen an Elf 2. Both Favreau and Ferrell also keep pretty busy, with the director attached to several Disney projects including season 2 of The Mandalorian, while the SNL alum continues his on-screen work in surprise hits like Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga as he juggles producing obligations on projects like SuccessionDead to MeHustlers and Booksmart

Time can mend all wounds, but it can also lead to the kinds of busy schedules that keep the film's biggest creatives out of a sequel deal.