Will Ferrell is a surprisingly laid back and straightforward person to talk to. Unlike most comedians who always seem “on” during an interview, Ferrell felt no need to joke around or entertain with his answers. He was quite comfortable in being straight forward and honest. Although some of his answers were humorous they were not because of him trying to do so. Overall he had a very genuine attitude that showed how different is from any of the characters he portrays. Who would have thought he was that good of an actor?
Opening this Friday, June 5th, is Will Ferrell’s new comedy, The Land of the Lost. The film stars Danny McBride as Will Stanton, the lovely Anna Friel as Holly Cantrell, Jorma Taccone as Chaka, and Ferrell as Dr. Rick Marshall.
Check out what Ferrell had to say about making The Land of the Lost, working with first time comedy director Brad Silberling, having Matt Lauer attack him on set, and his status on many of his upcoming projects including Anchorman 2, Man vs Wild, Eastbound and Down, Sherlock Holmes and more…
How did it feel to actually sing the theme song and invent the theme song?
Will: That was actually a pretty cool moment for me having been such a fan of the show as a kid. We also shot a really great teaser trailer that they never used where it was just me in silhouette, black, playing the beginnings of the song and then saying, ‘That’s all I got.’ And then, ‘Go see Land of the Lost.’ Yeah, it was fun, it was also fun to actually play a banjo for whatever the three chords I had to learn to do that. I thought that was a really smart kind of way to pay homage to the theme song by the fact that he’s trying to make amends with the group with this stupid song he figured out while he was sad by himself. So I love that scene.
Part of the fun of the show was the bad special effects, did you ever discuss doing maybe one bad effect as homage to the show?
Will: No, we knew the Sleestaks would be slow, we would maintain that, but for the most part the decision was made early on to make the effects part be updated and a cool thing as opposed to a kitschy thing, and along with – get to build all the sets and everything, that was really a neat aspect that they decided to add in. But, yeah, there was a decision early on to make that be the great part and then have the comedy bounce off of that.
What about the changing of the characters?
Will: For whatever reason we just thought it would give us a better platform for the comedy, instead of having my character saddled with these two kids, it just seemed like it was more opportunity to have – Will, the character that Danny brought to life, and to have like a little bit of a potential of a love interest, and that sort of thing, we thought we’d mix it up.
How was it working with the director Brad Silberling who normally doesn’t do comedy?
Will: It was great. I’ve known Brad in passing for a long time, in fact I did this movie The Suburbans with Amy Brenneman, his wife, a long time ago. I’ve been a fan of his work and when we were meeting with potential directors he immediately set himself above everyone in a way, just because he was like, ‘You know, whether you hire me or not you should use these two stages on the Universal (lot) because they are the biggest,’ He had so much knowledge about how to shoot this film, and he was so willing to – if I don’t get the job, that’s fine, but here are the things you should probablyly do to make sure you do it the right way.
We were so impressed by just how he had the whole thing laid out, because we were kind of looking at maybe some more comedy guys who didn’t necessarily have a handle on a movie of this scope, and in the end I think we made the best decision, because Brad obviously was okay with anything we wanted to throw in comically, he’s got I think a better sense of humor than he gets credit for, for the types of movies he’s done, so it was a great marriage actually. Plus he was able to attract someone like Dion Beebe and Bo Welch to do the production, so he put together this team of amazing people that I think another director might not have been able to do.
The film is pretty edgy, how young an audience do you anticipate that this is for?
Will: I don’t know. We obviously didn’t want it to be kind of a Disney film, in a way, we wanted it to have some sort of – we wanted the humor to be cool and kind of pushing that PG-13, or fulfilling that PG-13 thing, but kids are pretty sophisticated. I’m going to say I think this movie’s appropriate for six years and above.
Do children six and above know about tapping ass?
Will: Yeah, sure, bring your six year old. No, probably a sophisticated eleven year old, ten year old, that sort of thing. That’s when I’m proud about this movie in the sense that it is a more family movie than I’ve done in awhile and yet it’s still, I feel like it’s still – it’s got some original, sophisticated jokes that you’re not going to find in a movie in a similar kind of vain.
Was Chaka’s grabbing Holly’s breast in the script or was that just him improving?
Will: No, no that was always in the script that he was kind of quickly figured out that – oh, is this the way you communicate with women, by grabbing their breasts? He’s kind of sly and a little touchy feel-ly. No, we just thought from the TV show, not that it’s really a reference for the majority of the audience probably, but we just thought that would be a funny place for Chaka to go. But then Jorma did such a great job, he kind of just started touching me everywhere he could, so he was kind of adding all that too and it was really funny to play off of, like Rick thinking, ‘Oh, he’s just saying hello,’ and not really knowing what is this guy doing? So, yeah, some of that was added by Jorma.
As a kid you either loved or hated Chaka – did you like him, because I loved your remark about wanting to eat him. Did you not like him as a kid?
Will: No, I actually – I think I was pretty enamored with the fact that this early man-creature became friends with the kids in the show, even though I remember thinking, ‘God he looks freaky.’ But no I think I liked him, I think I liked him fine.
Had you thought about the number of direct references from the original series that you wanted to make – so there room for a Bill Laimbeer (played a Sleestak on TV series) cameo at some point?
Will: (he laughs) Yeah, that would have been really deep, undercover reference, yeah. Bill Laimbeer and there was another guy who played at UCLA who was a Sleestak too, the story is they were like – because Laimbeer and this other kid at UCLA were like college players and this was like a summer job for them to walk around in Sleestak outfits. No, that would have been good.
Were afraid of referencing too much because of new audiences who may not have seen the show?
Will: The only other references I think we had were the original Will and Holly meeting us at the end of the movie, which there’s a whole part where we return back to the La Brea Tar Pits, but that ended up getting cut for time. So that was going to be a little homage to them.-
Did you film it?
Will: We did, yeah, and outside of getting Sid and Marty Krofft in a Sleestak outfit or something like that, or having them just walk through the background shot, I don’t know if we had any other obscure ones that we decided not to do.
Was there always going to be Matt Lauer?
Will: You know what, I’m trying to think if that was in the first draft or if that was something that came around in rewrites. He might not have been, because I think the original draft that my character was on like a Charlie Rose show with a panel of like Al Gore, Stephen Hawking and myself. And Hawking starts to go after me and discredit me and then we get in this fight, I actually try to lunge at Stephen Hawking, which is really funny, great idea on paper, and then you start to make the phone calls and people are like, ‘No, we’re unavailable.’ Then that became a really easy with the Today Show [because] they were really up for it, and Matt was totally game, so that became the plan B which worked beautifully, so much so that we went back.
Going back on the show is actually a re-shoot, we added that because the front part worked so great, and he was so game, he got such a kick out of it when we were in the spot during the Super Bowl, and so, yeah, I think now he’s already getting people on the street going, ‘Hey suck it.’ It’s like a badge of honor for him.
Was the scene ad-libbed where he was interviewing you?
Will: The first scene, no, there was a couple of little moments, but for the most part it was scripted. But we were so impressed because he was, as you see in the movie, he’s so at ease at snapping into being himself, and it sounds like a silly thing to say, but a lot of times people get stiff and they start to act and he was so real. And when I did little things like I keep showing my book, he’s like, ‘Stop it, okay?’ He would just throw those things in, but the ending scene where he tackles me, he said, ‘You know what? Let’s do one more take,’ and then he just did that, which was great. I was trying not to laugh because I was so surprised, that he’s like tackling me. That was brilliant, that was great. He totally faked us out, he’s like, ‘I think I messed up that line,’ and the next thing I know he just tackled me. So it was really fun to kind of see him really take advantage of that.
Jody Hill says there’s going to be a second season of Eastbound and Down. Are you going to come back?
Will: I would love to, but it’s up to the guys. I think the direction they’re talking about going with the second season, which I don’t want to spoil, is something that wouldn’t lend itself to my character reappearing.
So did working with Danny McBride so close on Eastbound help you with your relationship on Land of the Lost?
Will: It definitely made it so much more comfortable for sure. I think we had already had the talks with them as producers about “Easbound” before Land of the Lost, before Danny got cast, so that was already, oddly enough, in the works and yeah, obviously having spent three, four months together, it made it great just to show up in North Carolina and we got to play around. Danny, Jody and Ben and the crew they had were just a bunch of funny, smart guys, and it was great to go down there and see because they employed a lot of the guys they’d worked with at the School of the Arts in North Carolina, so a lot of their crew and everyone else, it was a real family affair, and I think it shows in the series.
What about your appearance on Man vs Wild, I heard you’re on it this week?
Will: Yeah, it was crazy. It was fun but it was one of those things that I knew I would be out there going, ‘Why did I do this?’ mixed with at the same time I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t say no to it. We were forty miles north of the Arctic Circle in like northern Sweden, just in the middle of nowhere, making snow shoes out of birch branches and eating reindeer eyeballs and things like that. So it was pretty intense.
How long were you there?
Will: It was forty-eight hours, they scaled it back for me because he’s usually out there an entire week, but they made it really safe for me, they made sure that I think I had a few more of the creature comforts that I don’t think he gets.
Who made that pitch, how did that come together?
Will: You know, as far as I know I think my manager, who also represents Sacha Baron Cohen, is friends with the London manager who represents Sacha, who also represents Bear Grylls, and they were having lunch in London one day talking about various things and a guy goes, ‘By the way, Bear Grylls is a huge Will Farrell fan, would he ever want to come on the show?’ And Jimmy, who I work with and happens to be a huge Man vs Wild show [fan?] was like, ‘That is a great idea, let me talk to him,’ so then he pitched it to me, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is too crazy to say no to.’ So that’s kind of how the whole thing – and then I think Universal loved it because of the cross-promotional thing and it all added up in a way that it seemed appealing to everyone.
Who wins, man or the wild?
Will: Wild kicks man’s ass, and then man gets up courageous at the end.
You have a Sherlock Holmes project also?
Will: Yeah, we’re trying to develop this, we’ve got a script written by Aaton Cohen (sp?) and I just met with Sacha three weeks ago and we’re talking about some more –
Would it be a comedy Sherlock Holmes?
Will: Oh yeah, yeah, definitely, yeah. It’s just a question of the Robert Downey Jr. one that they’ve just shot. That one’s probably going to be a hit franchise, and whether that is something you want to go up against, would it just inform the audience to allow for us to do a comedy version, or would it feel like oh, we’re just trying to copy them, even though I think we wrote our script before they did, or something like that, I don’t know. Yeah, we’re thinking about it.
Are you doing Anchorman 2?
Will: I though we were, I kept say that. I was told we were and now I’ve heard it’s too hard to get everyone together, so hopefully Adam is going to be able to talk to all the guys individually and see if there’s a time and place that were can figure out how to do this.
Comedy sequels have a difficult history, why do you guys think that you can break that curse and come back and do a sequel that’s just as good as the original?
Will: Oh we don’t. (everyone laughs) It’s just that it would be really fun to do. It could be terrible, but if they’re going to pay us to do it, why not, right?
Is it something you’re eager to do, is it on the front burner?
Will: We weren’t necessarily, and then it just – the legacy of that movie just kept building and building and we just kind of got excited about – and then last year we did this funny comedy tour where I would enter every college I went to and interview either the head football coach or the president of the school as Ron Burgundy, and Adam and I got such a kick out of it, it was so much fun that we were like, ‘Maybe we should revisit this.’ And then [Steve] Carell said, ‘I’m totally up for it,’ so it seems like – I agree, it’s hard, sequels, comedies that have really seemed to have found a foothold in the consciousness are hard to kind of – but I think we would use that as a challenge to try to make it as the craziest sequel you’ve ever seen, just, you know, live by the sword, die by the sword kind of feel, and see what happens
Would you like to do a sequel to The Land of the Lost?
Will: I would love to. You never know, but I love working with Brad and this cast, it was so fun to actually work with a small cast, I’ve done ensemble films for so long, it was just so nice to – yeah, given the opportunity it would be fun.
The film is in theaters this Friday, June 5th!