Will Ferrell On Set Interview – LAND OF THE LOST

     April 19, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

The best thing about posting an interview with Will Ferrell is he needs no introduction. Everyone knows who he is and that he’s extremely funny. So instead of me wasting any time, let’s get right to it.

Last June I was invited by Universal Studios, along with a few other online journalists, to visit the set of their “Land of the Lost” movie while it was still in production. As I wrote in my set report, I was able to see the soundstage they were working on that day, as well as interview almost everyone involved in the production. During our time with Will, he talked to us about his history with “Land of the Lost”, what filming had been like, why he got involved with the Funny Or Die website, and a whole lot more. It was a great interview and one absolutely worth checking out.

As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio of the interview by clicking here.

Finally, for those that didn’t grow up with “Land of the Lost” or aren’t familiar with the world, here’s the synopsis and trailer to get you ready for the interview:

The film is based on the original classic television series created by Sid & Marty Krofft. The remake stars Will Ferrell as Dr. Rick Marshall, Danny McBride as a redneck survivalist, Anna Friel as a crack-smart research assistant, and Jorma Taccone as Chaka! Here’s the synopsis and trailer in case you missed it:

Will Ferrell stars as has-been scientist Dr. Rick Marshall, sucked into one and spat back through time. Way back. Now, Marshall has no weapons, few skills and questionable smarts to survive in an alternate universe full of marauding dinosaurs and fantastic creatures from beyond our world—a place of spectacular sights and super-scaled comedy known as the Land of the Lost.

Sucked alongside him for the adventure are crack-smart research assistant Holly (Anna Friel) and a redneck survivalist (Danny McBride) named Will. Chased by T. rex and stalked by painfully slow reptiles known as Sleestaks, Marshall, Will and Holly must rely on their only ally—a primate called Chaka (Jorma Taccone)—to navigate out of the hybrid dimension. Escape from this routine expedition gone awry and they’re heroes. Get stuck, and they’ll be permanent refugees in the Land of the Lost.

Question: You were attached to this for like three years?

Will: I dunno how long. I was attached initially and then I wasn’t going to be able to do it and then Universal really wanted to make it and they were going to make it with other people and then that disappeared. So, I forget the chronology of it all.

Do you think your character in ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ was some kind of cosmic foreshadowing of this?

Will: It must have been. In fact, we owe a great deal to Kevin Smith that we were all sitting in this lovely air-conditioned tent right now. The Japanese lanterns.

Sid and Marty didn’t even know you played a character named that.

Will: Well, that doesn’t surprise me. (Laughs) But, I’m sure Marty would say if he could see that movie, ‘Yep! I knew it. It’s a sign. It’s a sign.’

Well, you are rockin’ the khaki.

Will: The khaki is good. I like it. I’m trying to think — not since ‘Elf’ have I been able to wear the same clothes every single day. It’s nice. You don’t have to think about things. You don’t have those awkward wardrobe moments where you tried on a different T-shirt that you thought was really cool and then it’s not the same one the next day and you’re like, ‘What happened?’ ‘Oh, the director didn’t like it.’ Which is good. It never changes. I like it.

How hard is it with this big movie where you have effects and have to hit marks, etc. to be really funny and loose and be Will Ferrell?

Will: Well, yeah, it’s a whole different animal in a way. You know, in some ways you actually don’t have to be funny all the time which is what I like about it and in other ways you can play these adventure moments just completely straight and they come off funny. You don’t have to work at it too much. The flip side of it is that as we are in precarious situations, it’s such a great backdrop to actually throw out these lines that are commenting that you’re about to be eaten. That’s why I love Rick Marshall who is like, obviously, scared for his life at the same time his scientific mind is always working and he has a great appreciation of this character that’s going to eat him all at the same time. It’s a great combination for comedy.

Can you talk about your character?

Will: Yeah, slightly different from the TV show, though George may be able to shed some light on this. Was Rick Marshall, was it ever established? Was he just a guy who liked to explore with his children?

He was a Park Ranger.

Will: He was a Park Ranger. O.K., so that’s where there is a difference. Rick Marshall in the movie is a quantum paleontologist. So, slightly failed, there was a moment at time that we sort of see at the beginning of the movie where he was one of the stars of the scientific community, but then he wrote this book on how he thought there were holes in time and space and everyone thought he was crazy. And he ended up, eventually punching Matt Lauer — we haven’t shot it yet. (Laughs) And, ah, that lead to his fall from grace and we sort of pick him up working at the LaBrea Tar Pits trying to teach children who aren’t listening to him and all stuff like that. Yeah, so it’s slightly different in that he had developed these theories about places like Land of the Lost and it wasn’t until Holly showed up and studied some of his findings and sort of reinvigorated him to get back in the field and that lead them on this adventure.

Did you watch the original ‘Land of the Lost’?

Will: Yeah, I was. My brother and I loved ‘Land of the Lost.’ It was kind of, for those of us who watched it, such a unique thing on Saturday mornings. I just loved that it wasn’t a silly cartoon. It seemed so real at the time and how did they make this show with dinosaurs and Sleestak creatures and ‘It looked so real!’ And I wish I was Will! I always thought it was the coolest premise and the fact it didn’t talk down to kids. It seemed like a real adventure show, so I loved it.

Are they going to be able to work the original theme song into the movie?

Will: I dunno. I think it was just a given that we had to reference that obviously and I think it was just Brad Silberling working with the writers, Chris and Dennis, y’know, just trying to think of a moment where we could incorporate that and yeah, we found a pretty funny moment to do that.

Were you responsible for any sleestak references on ‘SNL’?

Will: Uh, were there?

The writer told us about how a background character was talking about making sleestak porn in a sketch. He said you and Adam McKay always tried to work in the concept.

Will: I’m trying to think. I’m sure we did. Yeah, I don’t have any specific. The cheerleaders sketch was based on sleestaks though. The camaraderie the sleestaks had with each other was a manifestation of that.

No it makes sense.

Will: Yeah, now you finally get it. Now, it’s finally funny.

We hear a lot about the sleestak sex scene. Can you tell us a little more about that? And would you do one?

Will: Would I do one? God no, because they shed their skin in the process. I’m not sure if you know that. Did you know that George?


Will: Yeah, we got you on that one. Basically, Holly has been abducted and we’re trying to find her and we’re in this crystal cave and we come across two sleestaks that we think are on watch so we kind of have to hide and it turns out they start to make out and of course, being the scientist, ‘Oh no, they are just having an exchange of masticated nutrients.’ And Will keeps saying, ‘No, they are making out! They are about to do it!’ ‘What are you talking about? Shut up!’ And then of course, it happens. You only see so much. It’s PG-13.

So, you’ve known Danny and presented ‘Foot Fist Way’ to America and this is your first time working with him. What’s that dynamic like with the two of you?

Will: It’s really fun. Dare I say come kind of good friends through this process and I’d love to keep working with him. I might do a couple cameo parts in the series we are producing. He is so much fun in that he sort of likes to work the same way I do. Work hard, but have fun while you are making a movie and he’s just kind of open, great improviser. We’ve been lucky that the three of us Anna, Danny and Jorma too, who plays Chaka, for four people who have had to spend a lot of time together, we’ve had just a great time.

People keep hearing Danny’s name and they probably haven’t seen him in much. Can you explain the Danny McBride appeal?

Will: Yeah, yeah. Well, on a personal level if you spend any time he’s just a fun, gregarious personality. Someone everyone wants to be around. In terms of a performer, he’s kind of got that thing that he shows off in ‘Foot Fist Way’ which is this attitude of someone who is really doesn’t know that he is maybe this kind of slovenly guy. That thing, that kind of unabashed, undeserved self confidence that is really funny to watch someone play with. That’s kind of sums up a lot of things he does in a way.

We’ve heard some rumors about an ‘Anchorman 2’ is Ron Burgundy character one you’d like to revisit?

Will: I know, I heard Mr. Adam McKay already told the world. Which, yeah, definite interest. I think we now have to do it which is good. Sort of forced him into a corner.

Would you pick him up back the 70s or?

Will: Have no idea. We’ve talked about a couple little premises. I think Adam plans on directing another film that he wrote with Dennis in the fall and so it would probably be at least another year before we could even write something or think of something.

Adam said the project would be in two years.

Will: Yeah, yeah, probably.

And after the story came out, everyone who had been in the movie were just like, ‘Yeah, yeah, just call me up.’

Will: I know, which is great to hear.

A lot of people really love the character so this is definitely something you’d be willing to go back to you.

Will: Uh, yeah, I would definitely be willing to go back to it. Whether or not it happens it still remains to be seen. I think myself and Steve, we are all in different places when we filmed it, so we’ve have to figure that out, but yeah, this is something….we’ve never been huge on the sequel thing in a way and yet, I was always kind of prodding him that if we were to do a sequel on anything, ‘Anchorman’ would be the one to do it on. It seems like it would be so much fun and so, I think Adam kind of came around on that idea and we started doing Ron Burgundy on the ‘Funny or Die’ comedy tour and that got everyone fired up again. So, yeah, hopefully, we can actually get this going.

Can you guys top great comedy sequels like ‘Caddyshack II’?

Will: Um, ‘Blues Brothers 2000’ no. We know the extent of our limitations to be honest and but I think we could come close. Like a ‘Blues Brothers 1000.’

How is it with you for picking future projects?

Will: Y’know, it’s the usual probably channels of agent/manager, procuring scripts, that kind of thing. At the same time, working with a guy like Jimmy Miller we kind of a lot of relationships with other writers and kind of have enough people in place that if we have an idea we can get them into development and kind of get it going. So, it’s kind of this 50/50 split of things we are developing just on our own, so we don’t have to worry about a script coming along and then the usual thing of, ‘The script just came in. Everyone’s talking about it, you want to read it?’ That sort of thing.

Now that HBO bought a stake in your Funny or Die website, is it going to change at all?

Will: The actual website? No, no. They won’t have any creative influence I don’t think. I hope not, I guess. Watch they will take it over now. We’ll all be fired and HBO will take over. I think that’s why they really wanted to buy it is because they really liked the model we were doing and everything had set up. We would obviously entertain any input they had, but at the end of the day, we are still kind of just in charge of the content and the style and everything like that.

Are there any Funny or Die productions that are going to come to HBO?

Will: There could. It’s all sort of brand new territory in a way. I don’t know exactly how far or where this path is gonna go. We’ll see. We’ll see how these ten half hours go and what that turns out to be like and go from there.

How involved are you creatively? Check in every once in awhile?

Will: Yeah, it’s pretty hard. If I’m doing this thing, I’m kind of out of the picture a little bit. And then once I wrap and have some breathing room I can check back in. We are always talking to each other about what the site is looking to do and updates on the numbers, half of which I don’t understand. Yeah, I come in and out as my schedule allows me too.

Do you see Funny or Die being a springboard for movie projects or characters you create there?

Will: Yeah, it could. It could in a certain scenario be a place where a movie is released potentially. We’ll have to see just how far the internet is going to go. Is film going to go to that medium or is it a mix or? I think it’s one of those things. Yeah, it’s conflicting because that would be a neat thing to happen and at the same time I still love going to the movies.

How many times have you been to Comic-Con and are you going this summer?

Will: I have never been. Never been. I don’t think I’ve ever been invited. And I know we have an invite for this movie, but I’ll be out of the country.

What are you doing after this?

Will: I’ll be promoting Step Brothers for all of July pretty much and then I’ll go to Sweden for a month. I’ll go to the Swedish Comic-Con. Blows this one away.

“Land of the Lost” invades theaters June 5th. And I’m on the ever growing world of Twitter.

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