At the time, the curly-haired Ferrell was beloved by Saturday Night Live fans for his keenly aloof portrayal of President George W. Bush and his brazenly absurd impressions of celebrities like Harry Caray, Robert Goulet, and Neil Diamond, but he wasn't a movie star yet. In February of 2003, Ferrell co-starred in the frat-comedy Old School, which grossed over $80 million and introduced Ferrell's man-baby antics, gift for improv, and doughy bare ass to unsuspecting audiences. But he was still coming off the bench, stealing scenes as the beer-chugging Frank "The Tank" Ricard from actors like Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn. He hadn't carried a movie on his own yet.
While it's a modern classic now, and has been adapted into a Broadway musical and holiday TV special, Elf was a strange property for Ferrell to jump on. The script by David Berenbaum had been kicking around Hollywood since 1993, with Jim Carrey attached to star at one point, and it didn't exactly mesh with Ferrell's emerging wild-guy image. A Christmas movie? About a giant elf? In yellow tights? As tempting as starring in a holiday classic is for famous actors -- who doesn't want to have their movie get played on cable for an eternity? -- you're way more likely to star in Christmas with the Kranks than A Christmas Story. The odds are not in your favor.