If you were a fan of the short-lived CBS drama series The Guardian in the early 2000s, you may have caught a somewhat baffling cameo by Will Ferrell of all people. A year after Ferrell left SNL, and the same year that Elf and Old School hit theaters, the comedian popped up on an episode of The Guardian in a straight dramatic role, only to meet a violent demise at the show’s end. To make matters stranger, he’s not even credited as Will Ferrell for the guest spot—he’s credited as “Phil Weston.”
At long last, the mystery has been explained. Ferrell went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night to promote his upcoming comedy Downhill, and he and Stephen Colbert talked about how Ferrell is technically part of the CBS family. Before introducing the hilarious clip from his The Guardian guest spot, Ferrell explained that he basically forced CBS to write a role for him and keep it under wraps:
“My manager Jim, who was also a producer on it at the time, and we basically forced CBS to write a guest role for me which looks like I’m going to be a series regular. Uncredited, no jokes, under the name ‘Phil Weston’. It’s credited as Phil Weston, so they couldn’t leak it any way… It’s a cop show, and it looks like I’m coming to be a part of the precinct, until this final moment.”
This isn’t the first time Ferrell has done something like this. In 2015, Ferrell and Kristen Wiig secretly shot a Lifetime original movie and planned to have the film air on the network without any promotion at all. News of their involvement leaked, unfortunately, but that movie isn’t a comedy in the slightest. It’s a legitimate Lifetime original movie. The idea was that someone would be watching Lifetime, and all of a sudden two SNL superstars show up as the stars of this new Lifetime movie without explanation. It appears Ferrell’s The Guardian gag was a similar bit, and I’m extremely curious what fans of this CBS drama thought when one of the biggest comedy performers in SNL history showed up in what appeared to be a series regular role.
Here’s hoping another surprise Ferrell bit may come our way sooner or later, because this is a delightfully wonderful kind of comedy.