Will Ferrell Tells Us the Story Behind His NBA Game Stunt

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·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
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When Will Ferrell acted like a drunken fool and drilled a cheerleader in the head (more on that below) with a basketball at an NBA game last month, he didn’t expect it to be that big of a deal. After all, his on-court shenanigans were for a scene in his upcoming comedy Daddy’s Home.

“For some reason, I still have blinders on when we do things like that,” Ferrell told Yahoo Movies last week when we asked if the production had anticipated fan footage of the scene going viral. Director Sean Anders said they thought it might “be floating around YouTube, but the fact that it was all over Yahoo and Google and everything the next morning was surprising to us.”

Watch a fan video of the scene shoot:

In the movie, Ferrell plays Brad, a sweet-natured radio exec who treasures being a stepfather to his new wife’s two children. But Brad’s life quickly unravels when the kids’ biological father Dusty (Mark Wahlberg, who first teamed with Ferrell in the 2010 hit The Other Guys) re-emerges. When Brad scores Lakers tickets to impress his Kobe Bryant-worshipping stepson, Dusty responds with courtside seats. This sets up the scene that played out in front of roughly 16,000 fans at Smoothie King Arena, home of the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 21. Brad, left by his lonesome in the seats he purchased, drowns his misery in beer. At halftime, it’s announced that one lucky fan will have a chance to win tickets to Disney World by attempting a half-court shot. And that lucky fan is a now-inebriated Brad.

When photos and video of the film shoot hit the Internet, most readers appeared to be entertained by Ferrell’s live stunt. But two other factions emerged: Those who were not amused by the film’s use of perceived violence against women for humor’s sake; and those who were convinced the whole thing was real.

Watch ‘The Insider’s’ coverage of the stunt:

“People were saying I should be sued,” Ferrell said. “Or even people who knew it was part of the movie, they were like, ‘Why did he use a real basketball?’” (For the record, it was a Nerf-style soft ball.) Comedian Hannibal Buress, who has a supporting role in the movie, said there was so much anti-Ferrell sentiment in the comments on the link that he posted on his Facebook fan page, that he ended up removing the post.

Anders said it took months of coordinating with the arena, the NBA, and the Lakers and Pelicans to plan the scene. The cast and crew arrived at the arena at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon to rehearse, and the game started at 7:00 p.m. Just as halftime began, a PA announcement was made to the crowd telling them to stay in their seats to see a scene filmed for a new Ferrell–Wahlberg movie. All they knew was that they would be watching Ferrell attempt a half-court shot.

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The movie’s “cheerleader,” stuntwoman Taryn Terrell

Though the production only had six minutes, they were able to film the scene twice. “Your adrenaline starts going, and you’re like, ‘It’s gonna be a bummer if I miss her on the first throw, because that will give away the gag,” Ferrell explained. He made direct hits both times on the woman playing the cheerleader, stuntwoman, actress, and former WWE/current TNA wrestler Taryn Terrell. “She’s tougher than I am,” says Ferrell.

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The moment Ferrell grabs the prop ball

If you watch the videos closely, you can see the moment when the actual basketball is replaced with the softer stunt prop. “I dribbled it a couple times, then I hold it. Then [the announcer] takes it away, and then I grab the [prop] ball from the guys behind us,” Ferrell explained before pausing for a moment. “I’m giving away the secret.”

Image credit: Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Spike TV