They say a newscaster, much like a fine scotch, gains richness and complexity with age, (it’s science); such is the case with Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. During a recent set visit, I was one of a small group of journalists who joined a crowd of 3,000 spectators at SeaWorld San Diego’s dolphin exhibit. What does SeaWorld have to do with the city’s greatest newsman? Well, when we find Burgundy at the outset of the sequel, he’s fallen on some hard times and has resorted to hosting the Thursday afternoon dolphin show at the park. Luckily, Burgundy gets his act together and reunites with his newsteam comprised of weather man Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), man on the street Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner) to tackle the 24-hour news cycle.
Also starring Christina Applegate, Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Dylan Baker, Greg Kinnear, and Harrison Ford, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opens December 20th. Hit the jump for my set visit recap and for 15 things to know about the sequel.
When we arrived at SeaWorld San Diego’s dolphin exhibit, the stands were already filled to capacity with some 3,000 extras. Since the sequel takes place in and around 1979, many people in the crowd were lucky enough to get vintage SeaWorld t-shirts, hats and colorful ponchos to wear for the shoot. That wasn’t the only way the crowd got involved, however, because director Adam McKay had big plans (and big surprises) in store for them.
After the dolphin trainers and their animal co-workers entertained the crowd with a number of tricks, flips and splashes (which also served as a run-through of the scene before the cameras started rolling), Ron Burgundy himself took center stage. As McKay announced the beginning of the dolphin show, Burgundy – dressed in a turquoise suit bedecked with stains – slurred his way through his introduction, taking swigs of his flask between comments. While the dolphins are putting on a spectacular show behind him, the co-hosts are attempting to rein in Ron’s belligerence as he begins insulting the crowd, the children in the audience and the dolphins themselves. The scene devolves into an argument between Ron and the lead dolphin, Kenobi, until the uproarious crowd boos Ron out of the arena, dragged away by security.
In the hands of any other actor/director duo, the scene would still be funny, but would lose its comedic magic after the multiple takes necessary to get total coverage. McKay and Ferrell have a unique partnership that explores all possible angles in a scene to get the best laugh possible. While the cameras are rolling and Ferrell is in top form, McKay shouts out lines over a loudspeaker for Ferrell to try out, such as, “Have you ever been so depressed you can’t feel your feet?” or, “I will fight children* in the parking lot!” (*The word “children” was also swapped out with nuns, dolphins, etc.) This time around, McKay took advantage of the 3,000 extras on hand to get some of the most ridiculous crowd chants you’ve ever heard, such as:
“You are not classy!”
“You have taken an Icarus-like fall, Ron Burgundy!”
“You need to seek counseling for your serious drinking problem, Ron Burgundy!”
It’s hard to say what was the funniest moment of the day, a tough choice between the crowd being willing to shout out anything McKay said, or the rolling improvisational scene between Ferrell and a chattering dolphin. The brilliance of their filmmaking method is that not only will the best scenes make it into the final feature, but all of the extra hilarious content they shoot will show up on the eventual DVD/Blu-ray. We’ll have to wait until Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opens on December 20th to find out which lines made it into Ron Burgundy’s dolphin show, but if that scene is any indication, the rest of the film should be super-duper.
- The sequel takes place in and around 1979 at the onset of the 24-hour news cycle in New York and spans about two years.
- Ron Burgundy has fallen on hard times and is reduced to drunkenly announcing the afternoon dolphin show at SeaWorld San Diego in 1979.
- In order to show Ron Burgundy’s current lot in life, McKay and Ferrell wrote an alternate scene that had Ron hosting a game show named “Duck, Duck, Goose”.
- Adam McKay says they thought about shooting Ron Burgundy 2.5, a short film about Ron’s weekend getting stuck in an elevator.
- McKay says actors such as Harrison Ford, Dylan Baker, James Marsden and Meagan Good took some time adjusting to his style of directing, but learned to love the creative freedom in it.
- McKay calls Judd Apatow “the most fun set hang ever.”
- McKay feels like that have fans’ permission to push Ron Burgundy to more extreme levels this time around.
- There is a possibility of a G or PG-rated short film featuring the adventures of Baxter and another character.
- McKay is fine with paparazzi and set photos, but wishes people would put up spoiler warnings to give fans a chance to avoid them.
- Other versions of the sequel McKay and Ferrell considered included a musical and exploring a different genre altogether.
- Baxter is the biggest diva on set.
- Cameo roles are written ahead of time and filled in with certain actors as they express interest or agree to do the part.
- There are no plans to make any future sequels, either of Anchorman or of any of their other films, but if this one is successful, they may revisit the idea.
- Adam McKay’s wife (Shira Piven) and daughters (Pearl and Lili McKay) both harass Burgundy during the SeaWorld sequence.
- This may come as a shock, but Ferrell and his family are not fans of Ron’s mustache.
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