Will Ferrell is not exactly a stranger to the world of Christmas movies, having starred in perhaps the most beloved festive film of the last 20 years: Elf.
And now, the popular comic actor is hoping to land another seasonal hit with a leading role alongside Ryan Reynolds in Spirited, a fresh musical take on Charles Dickens's much-adapted yuletide yarn A Christmas Carol, which imagines the iconic story from the perspective of the ghosts.
Although Ferrell's character – a version of the Ghost of Christmas Present – is a very different proposition from Buddy the Elf, the new film does manage to fit in a reference to the star's previous seasonal staple.
In one scene, Present attends a Christmas costume party and runs into a guest dressed as – you guessed it – Buddy the Elf, and director Sean Anders has revealed that this moment was actually Ferrell's idea.
"We had always had this idea in the script about a Christmas costume party," he explained during an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com. "And there aren't a ton of Christmas costumes outside of Santa Claus and such, so our costume designer wanted to incorporate costumes from other Christmas movies. We loved that idea, we thought that was a lot of fun.
"But I gotta be honest, I was not comfortable putting an Elf character in there without [Ferrell's permission]. And before we could even suggest that, Will actually thought, 'Well, shouldn't there be, you know, since the movie takes place in a world where [A] Christmas Carol exists, we might as well have this reference to Elf.'
"And so that was ultimately Will's idea. And it's a huge laugh whenever you see it with an audience and a lot of fun to reference!"
Much like Elf, Anders hopes that Spirited will become a film that is watched by families every time December rolls around – and he said this was part of the appeal of setting a film during the festive season.
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"I grew up with my family watching the same Christmas movies – watching It's a Wonderful Life year after year," he said. "And it's so strange how I get the same feeling watching it every year, even though I've seen it 10,000 times.
"Even from a filmmaking perspective, knowing that it's not just going to be opening Friday night and then forgotten by most people, knowing that you're gonna get that chance for people to come back and relive it, it changes the way that you approach certain things.
"You do have that great feeling of knowing that we can drop a little hint in here and people more than likely are going to come back and see it a second time and then catch things that they missed the first go around."