Ferrell and McKay: A partnership forged on jokes
NEW YORK (AP) — To reach the level of absurdity that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay regularly attain, they have to be particularly open-minded. They need to be willing to throw a joke about a female whale's anatomy against the wall, and see if it sticks.
It's a process of casual brainstorming, constant rewriting, endless improvisation and audience testing that leads them to ridiculous places. Their "Step Brothers," which McKay calls the most "free-form" film they've made, culminated at, of all places, something called the Catalina Wine Mixer, with Ferrell singing Andrea Bocelli's "Por Ti Volare."
"Sometimes I'll say to Ferrell: Can you believe we ended that movie in an opera song?" says McKay.
"We backed ourselves into such a corner," says Ferrell. "It was the only way."
This Dec. 6, 2013 photo shows actor Will Ferrell, left, and director Adam McKay from the film "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" posing in New York. Ferrell returns to portray newscaster Ron Burgundy in the sequel to "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy." (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)
"Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," the first movie they made together coming out of "Saturday Night Live," famously arrived at Burgundy's inane translation of San Diego as meaning "a whale's vagina." Actually speaking the line caused Ferrell to uncharacteristically unravel.
"A professional crew. It's a night shoot," says Ferrell. "And it all came crashing down on me: We've convinced a bonded company to put these lines on film."
The sequel, "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," opening Wednesday, comes nine years after the original, a movie that helped launch a decade of comedies and boosted the careers of Judd Apatow (a producer on "Anchorman"), Paul Rudd and Steve Carell. Since then, Ferrell has starred in every movie McKay has directed, including the NASCAR comedy "Talladega Nights" and the white-collar crime satire "The Other Guys."