Will Ferrell reprises his most beloved role in Anchorman 2
Among the countless interviews conducted over the years journalists have had to stickhandle their way around many personality-driven restrictions and embargos. Sometimes it’s a request not to inquire about a subject’s scandalous nude selfie spreading over the Internet. Other times it’s more sombre and obvious — like a plea not to ask about some friend that died of a heroin overdose.
Will Ferrell however is the first interview subject that ever required an advance email reminding reporters that the “interview will be with Will Ferrell — not Ron Burgundy.”
As obvious as that notice sounds one could be forgiven for getting the comedic actor and his Anchorman alter-ego confused. After all in advance of his highly anticipated sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Ferrell as Burgundy has been popping up everywhere from validating the virtues of the Dodge Durango’s glove box in television commercials to commentating on curling for TSN in Winnipeg.
“Ron did do a hell of a job” Ferrell corrects me after I mistakenly congratulate the actor on the curling analysis during a recent interview. Sharply dressed and unassuming Ferrell sits not only as one of the most likable actors in Hollywood but also as one of its most successful — thanks in part to the invention the legendary 1970s newsman.
“The moustache is the key. Without it he’s just another guy with great salon-quality hair” Ferrell says laughing about which characteristic most defines Burgundy. “I mean it’s funny I’ll put the wig on and it kind of looks okay and then once the moustache is on it completes the whole thing.”
As often as people now recite dialogue from the 2004 film Anchorman wasn’t the kind of massive theatrical hit that guarantees sequels. In truth there are seven other Ferrell films that earned more bucks at the box office — including 2007’s forgettable Blades of Glory .
“It’s just one of these movies that for whatever reason lends itself to repeat viewings I think because we had put so many subtle little weird things in it that you don’t see that first time. That’s the best theory I have because it is crazy” Ferrell says of the slow-boil success of Anchorman . “Ultimately the reason why we made a sequel was that it just sat on the shelf and somehow grew exponentially in popularity without us doing anything and here we are. It’s like a nice little mutual fund.”
Nearly a decade of sustained audience ascendance allowed Ferrell and creative partner Adam McKay a lot of leverage when it came to making the outrageous sequel about Burgundy accepting a new job at a 24-hour news station. When the pair handed in their original draft the studio refused it unless they could rewrite a cheaper version. After many negotiations the two sides eventually agreed. Creatively nothing was spared.
“We had this wish list of people [we wanted in the film] and sure enough most of it came true” says Ferrell of the movie’s many cameo appearances (including rappers Drake and Kanye West). “I think the biggest surprise — and partly because of the shooting schedule because he literally worked the first two days of filming — was Harrison Ford…. It was just hilarious to be acting opposite Harrison Ford in this crazy movie.”
Ferrell embraces “crazy” both on and off the screen and isn’t looking to change that in real life. That’s partly why he co-founded the website Funny Or Die and produces (and co-stars in) projects such as soap opera-inspired The Spoils of Babylon — an upcoming satire of epic ’70s TV mini-series like The Thorn Birds .
“With Spoils of Babylon I’m really just kind of there along for the ride” he says. “They just throw me into that but I love it… it’s fun to just kind of get to do different things in different mediums and just pop up here and there and surprise people.”