This week in theaters Will Ferrell explores his more serious side in director Dan Rush‘s adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story, Everything Must Go. In the film, Ferrell shows us that he’s capable of an extraordinarily subtle and poignant performance with very few moments of dark humor. This was very much a labor of love for Ferrell who stepped onto the quick 23 day shoot in an attempt to do something new. Find out more about him making the film and his return to comedy with his political satire with Zach Galifianakis…
Will, it seems like a lot of your choices lately between this and “The Office” have been rather dark — is there something behind this?
Will Ferrell: My blue period. Officially. [Laughs] Dianglo is pretend dark and Nick is real life dark.
Were you looking for characters that were a little bit more layered or intense??
Ferrell: No, I mean with “The Office” I just left it up to that writing staff to create whatever they wanted to create and that’s just what they chose. In terms of this film, this whole process probably started about two years ago when I met Dan and read the script. Regardless of whether it was darker or this or that, it was just such a unique project and a new challenge for me, which is something I really wanted to try.
How did you and CJ (Christopher Jordan Wallace) develop your relationship?
Ferrell: I think that’s a credit to how good CJ is because we didn’t have a lot of time together before we started filming, we didn’t have that luxury. We rehearsed a little bit but it’s kind of what we saw in auditioning Christopher, it seemed like he was already so grounded and mature in a way that would help us. Because a lot of the scenes that we have in the film were maybe, 3, 4, 5 takes at the most. We didn’t have the luxury of time or film stock and we had all these forces going against us. We just had to make sure that we had someone that could just start at level 10 on take one and he could do that.
Did having a small set help in bonding?
Ferrell: Yeah, Between takes we would just have to sit out in front of this house, while they re-arranged the set for a different part of the movie. And that was where we spent the most time getting to know one another.
How would you describe, the never quite defined relationship between Rebecca Hall’s character and yours?
Ferrell: That was another thing that I loved about this script. Here was this relationship that normally, in a typical Hollywood movie they would fall in love and it feels like it’s maybe getting to that edge, but in a very real way, it never really crosses that line. It’s almost symbolic of that dance at the end of the film. It really is a dance of them consoling each other, helping each other, being critical of each other too, and yet they don’t cross that line of intimacy, yet there is something intimate going on between them. I just though that was masterfully done on a script level and we tried to just be true to that.
This film deals a lot with alcoholism, what were some of the challenges of realistically showing the disease and playing it for comedy but as part of a character?
Ferrell: I’m getting asked the question were their moment that you attempted to make “funny”? I don’t think you can sit down and begin to read a piece of material like this and start ear-marking it like “ah! This would be funny. I should bark on myself here. I know how to spice that up.” It’s evident from the beginning what the tone’s going to be and that’s where you put your mind and you think of it as a serious piece. And when talking about playing the “drink” we were very cognizant of avoiding any false moments. We wanted to comedy to just happen organically and never feel forced or pushed.
Do you have any items that you cannot let go of?
Ferrell: [Jokingly] My speedboat. I had a beer bottle collection, but I got rid of it.
What’s the hardest part in getting this film made? Getting it going, making it or promoting?
Ferrell: All of it! Check, check, check!
What’s next for you?
Ferrell: Next, I’m doing to shoot in the fall, a film with Zach Galifianakis, where we play rival Southern politicians in a small congressional district in South Carolina. That we’ll release for the election season next year, which kind of comments on the circus that is now, modern day politics.
Ferrell: You really have to assert some sort of e-mail hate campaign to Paramount Pictures because they have told us “they have run the numbers, and it’s not a good fit.”
Was it ever intended to really be a musical?
Ferrell: Yeah that was our idea. We were going to actually do it in reverse, almost like a Marx Brothers, we were going to do a Broadway musical and then have the film come out after the stage show. Everyone that we tell the idea loves it, except for the studio, which owns the rights. So balls in their court, but they’re being idiots.
What we can agree on! Though I was surprised to hear him say anything that like, it’s refreshing to see Ferrell take such a risk with this film, the way that he speaks out and continue to keep fighting for films, big or small, that he believes in.
Who’s ready to start the Anchorman 2 campaign?
Check out Will Ferrell in Everything Must Go in theaters May 13th!