Over the last six years, director Adam McKay and Will Ferrell have made some classic comedies. If you’re not familiar with their resume… Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers and their latest film, The Other Guys. Like I said in the intro to the press conference with Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton and McKay, the movie is extremely funny and it’s going to do huge business at the box office.
At the recent Los Angeles press day for the film, I was able to get an exclusive interview with Will Ferrell. As a huge fan since his days on Saturday Night Live, I’ll admit to being incredibly excited to have landed a one on one interview. Thankfully, Ferrell was beyond cool and we spent about ten minutes discussing Mark Wahlberg and Adam Mckay, doing press, rehearsal versus improv, and I got his reaction on Anchorman 2 falling apart over budget. Yes, the reason we’re not getting the sequel to Anchorman is the studio not wanting to spend the money. I’m as disappointed as all of you. Hit the jump for the interview. I’ve offered the transcript and the audio:
Here’s the full transcript. If you’d like, you can listen to the interview by clicking here. I always recommend the audio if you have the time….
Finally, let me say again how much I loved The Other Guys. Go see it this weekend. You’ll laugh a lot.
The interview started with us talking about Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood….
Collider: Is it frustrating for you because I see that everyone has to give them 10 or 15 minutes and then they use 20 seconds if you’re lucky.
Will Ferrell: Yeah. That’s why you just don’t take so much of it too seriously. I mean, it’s a weird thing. It’s like sometimes, as you saw in that press conference, we’ll just go off the rails because you’re like “does it really matter?”. Then you’re like “ok” and you can see some people getting frustrated thinking “No. We want a real answer” and then you double back and you go “Ok. Actually, seriously, this is how we did it…” But it’s true, you do these junket days and they’ll tease it throughout the show saying “Coming up! We talked to Will Ferrell about his underpants” and they use the thing that has nothing to do with the movie and then it’s a blip of me saying “We had a great time shooting in the streets of New York…”
Totally. I said to Adam upstairs and I’ll say it to you, I thought the press conference was fucking awesome.
Ferrell: Oh, good. Yeah. You might as well mess around because don’t you find that more interesting?
Well, did you notice all the cameras? That is a step in the right direction because for me, as a journalist, how are you supposed to transcribe on to a page that kind of chemistry?
Ferrell: Right. I don’t know. [laughs] Yeah.
Jumping into the movie…first of all, I thought it was fucking awesome. I’m going to curse a little bit, but I laughed my ass off. When did you first know that your chemistry with Mark Wahlberg would be so good?
Ferrell: You know, I think we had a big read through for Sony and Mark, like, killed it. I thought I was really bad and I was just like “Oh my god, Mark is so funny.” There was just something about writing stuff in his voice that made us laugh so hard just how serious he was and we were like “Look at you. Why do you do that?” and we were just like “Oh. We can’t take it “. It was probably in those first couple of read throughs and then my kind of earnestness and like “I disagree with you” you know? I made a point and I kept telling Adam and Chris that we have to make sure that “Mark’s a tough guy. Will’s the nerdy guy. Like, I have to have a toughness also. Even though I’m an eccentric weirdo, I have to have to be confident enough to push him back.” Once we started putting that in the script, it was great. By rehearsal it was just like “I cannot wait to shoot this scene”. There were just times where he is just looking at me and I can’t look at him. Whether it’s the slow burn or when he gets pissed, it just made us laugh.
Mark told me how he was having a tough time keeping a straight face. So it seems to me that this entire shoot was a tough time keeping a straight face.
Ferrell: Yeah. I think it was easier for me because my guy is so serious. I would make a point of “Try not to laugh. I shouldn’t laugh”. There are parts where I don’t get ruffled by anything he says and it just made him laugh so hard. Last time Adam and I watched the movie…at first you may have a tendency to think “I feel so sorry for Will’s character” because Mark is like “You’re an idiot. I hate you.” But I think it’s reversed. He has to put up with what a weirdo I am, like, my bad music and I’m such an odd weird guy.
I think you both complement each other extremely well. I wanted to ask you about the rehearsal process. You mentioned that you rehearsed it. Do you guys feel that if you rehearse too much you’re going to burn out the scene? I’m just curious about your rehearsal process versus the actually filming process.
Ferrell: Well, we’re too lazy to rehearse too much so that’ll never be a problem [laughs] I think rehearsal to us was taking 3 to 4 days of just reading the scenes out loud and kind of just going “Does this part make sense? Does that part?” And then Adam would go “Let’s try one where you guys just play around with it.” And then we would try it and be like “Ok. That’s good. Let’s go get lunch”. Whether it’s by design or not, we definitely don’t rehearse too much. When we’re on the set, it’s still pretty brand new. Plus, you’re looking at a scene and you’re already thinking “Oh. Tomorrow’s work. You know what? This is a really funny part. I can also go off here and go off there” So you kind of have a little game plan going on with the next day and then add in McKay, who I don’t think there is anyone like him around in terms in the way he directs.
As far you two together, everything you both have done together has been so good. As a fan, I say I wish there was a yearly movie from you two. Like every Halloween we had a Ferrell/McKay pairing.
Ferrell: [laughs] Yeah. Well, we obviously have a great time working together. It’s funny, there’s never that uncomfortable moment where McKay pitches an idea or I pitch an idea and the other one is going “What is he talking about?”. It’s always, at the very worst, usually like “Oh. That’s great. I didn’t even think of that” or we always preface it with “This may be crazy, but if we did this?” or like “Uhh…I don’t think that will work.” We are always in synch in terms of what we think is funny or what the right tone is. There’s never an uncomfortable thing because sometimes you’ll have a comedy director pull you aside and be like “So that was great, but do you want to wear this funny hat in the next scene? Just thought it would be great” and you have to go “…I don’t know if we should do that” Then there are hurt feelings and you have to walk away. But the moment Adam and I started working together at Saturday Night Live we kind of both just clicked.
I speak for all of fandom when I say that I am devastated that Anchorman 2 is not going forward. Can you talk about your reaction to it not moving forward and is it possible to just skip over and go to Anchorman 3?
Ferrell: [laughs] It totally is. Yeah, you know, it’s just tough right now to get movies made. It’s just weird because we were basically begged to for years and years like “Would you guys ever do a sequel? Would you ever do a sequel?” and we finally kind of were feeling it because like every year that movie has sort of built and built and built. We warmed up to the idea and we were like “That could actually be a lot of fun” and we got everyone together and then they were basically like “Great! We can’t believe it! But you have to do it for this amount” and we were like “Oh, well there’s no way we can do it for that…” You know, it’s hard to talk about budgets in Hollywood and not come off like…because it takes a lot of money to make a movie and even a small budget is a lot of money. So I don’t ever want to downplay that but if you’re getting myself, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and probably a bunch of other people who would line up to be in that movie, it’s going to cost a certain amount. But we also know we would cut everything to do it. So there really wasn’t a realistic way to do it. It was basically like “Yeah! Do it for 20 dollars!” and we were like “What?” So you don’t want to come off like…Anyway, right now it’s kind of like the ball is in their court, you know? You get mad at first then you get a little frustrated then you’re like “Well, if its not meant to be then it’s not meant to be and we’ll go on and do something else” But, you know, I just think they come off looking strange.
It’s very frustrating. I have to wrap with you but Adam just told Devin (from CHUD) upstairs that it was going to be a musical? A Broadway musical? He was dropping some information about it.
Ferrell: That was the concept. We were going to do a whole thing. We had this great idea.
It is so frustrating!
Ferrell: I love talking about it because I hope it all just filters back…but I don’t know if they even hear any of that stuff. They are kind of a weird place.