‘Anchorman’ Will: Film at 11
LOS ANGELES ó This just in: Will Ferrell is a selfish, chauvinistic, jazz-flute-playing dog-punter.
Ferrell’s co-stars from Anchorman, which opens Friday, reveal that the comedian has a violent temper, does not speak with colleagues and demands to be referred to as “the next Orson Welles.”
In case you’re just joining us, their comments ó like most of the lines in the film ó are made with tongue firmly in cheek.
“We had some shots that took hours because we couldn’t keep a straight face,” says Ferrell, who plays Ron Burgundy, a pompous 1970s newscaster with a knack for jazz flute and reading anything that scrolls across his teleprompter. “We’d improvise and say more and more ridiculous things until we were all cracking up.”
Ferrell and his fake news crew at KVWN-San Diego are hoping audiences do, too. In a summer dominated by action and epics, goofball humor is trying to eke out a profitable corner of the market. Dodgeball, with Ferrell’s “frat pack” buds Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, was a surprise No. 1 hit last month.
Ferrell is no slouch at turning goof to gold, either. He made surprise hits out of last year’s Old School and Elf. And Anchorman, which he co-wrote with director Adam McKay, has vintage Ferrell absurdities: a mentally disabled weatherman who refers to Iowa as the “middle east,” a gang brawl between rival news teams and a terrier that gets drop-kicked over a freeway overpass ó and still gets the last laugh.
Here to blow the whistle on Ferrell is the cast of News Channel 4: Christina Applegate as Veronica Corningstone, an ambitious reporter adjusting to a male-dominated newsroom; David Koechner as Champ Kind, a sports anchor with an unhealthy fondness for Burgundy; Paul Rudd as Brian Fantana, a “man on the street” reporter who never goes on the street; and Steve Carell as Brick Tamland, a weatherman with an IQ of 48.
Q: As actors, how do you find the stooge inside each of you?
Rudd: “You have to strip away the layers of yourself to find that chauvinist. It’s not just something you can just show up and read the lines.”
Ferrell: “We had a retreat in Big Bear for a month. It had nothing to do with the film. But it was fun.”
Carell: “A retreat?”
Koechner: “I’m sorry. I was supposed to tell you. But I didn’t.”
Ferrell: “It was a blast, though. Sorry you couldn’t make it.”
Q: Will, what was your motivation for writing Anchorman?
Ferrell: “Adam and I thought it would be funny to make fun of the ego and sexism of the ’70s. There was so much of it. We thought it would be good to let the ladies know, ‘Hey, see? It could be worse.’ ”
Koechner: “Or it could go back to the way it used to be.”
Applegate: “For some people, it already has.”
Rudd: “No one told you to speak, Christina.”
Q: You’re going to be interviewed by hundreds of TV reporters in an effort to get them to say nice things about your movie. Why make fun of them in the film?
Carell: “Because everyone who is a journalist is an idiot.”
Q: We’ve heard reports of minor scuffles on the set. Is that true?
Ferrell: “No, that’s not true. I would not call them minor. We had daily fistfights, all started by the lady.”
Q: Did the conflicts affect the film’s quality?
Koechner: “Not at all. This movie is a modern-day Citizen Kane. Same themes, same … stuff. The man you see sitting there is Orson Welles. One day he’ll be pushing Gallo wine and fish sticks.”
Ferrell: “And weighing 400 pounds. That’s my goal.”
Q: I don’t remember Citizen Kane punting dogs.
Applegate: “The dog was a metaphor.”
Ferrell: “The thing about that is, it was a very difficult scene. It’s not easy to punt a dog and make it look just right. We needed a lot of dogs. Like 800 of them.”
Koechner: “And you know who brought them up, all crammed in a truck? PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). They were pretty helpful.”
Ferrell: “When we finally got the scene finished, we had about a hundred dogs left. We asked what should we do with them, and PETA said to just let them loose in the desert. So that’s what we did.”
Rudd: “But we don’t want people to get the wrong idea. The credits read ‘No animals were harmed in the filming of this movie. Except dogs.’ ”
Q: Co-star Fred Willard says Ferrell is funny because he’s an “everyman jackass.” What makes Will funny?
Ferrell: “I’m going to get that guy.”
Applegate: “Will isn’t afraid to be that loser that everyone pulls for. He is that loser.”
Rudd: “You know how most people think most of their thoughts in private, so they can say something smart and not sound stupid? Will doesn’t bother.”
Koechner: “He’s not afraid to do the wildest scene. And it takes courage to be that dumb.”
Carell: “I don’t find Will Ferrell funny.”
Ferrell: “I think it’s my outdoorsy good looks, combined with charm and a certain … something. It’s just a hint of …”
‘Anchorman’ Will: Film at 11