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Will Ferrell Actor

Will Ferrell, co-star of the "Kicking & Screaming" Movie!

Another member of the Saturday Night Live Screen Actors Guild, Will Ferrell made his major film debut as Steve Butabi, one of the spectacularly clueless brothers who serve as the protagonists of A Night at the Roxbury (1998). The character originated on SNL, where Ferrell had been a regular since 1995, entertaining audiences with his celebrity impressions and such characterizations as Craig the Spartan Cheerleader and junior high-school teacher Marty Culp. Born in Irvine, CA, on July 16, 1968, Ferrell attended the University of Southern California, graduating with a degree in sports information. Following graduation, he worked as a sportscaster on a weekly cable show, but he soon found his interests leaning toward acting and standup comedy. He enrolled in classes and workshops given at a local community college, and after only a year of training, he was invited to join the Groundlings, an infamous L.A. comedy improv group. Ferrell's involvement with the Groundlings led to his SNL discovery; from that point on, the previously unknown comic found himself enjoying growing recognition and a steady paycheck.

Although A Night at the Roxbury turned out to be a complete and utter flop, it did little to prevent Ferrell from finding more screen work; the following year, he could be seen as journalist Bob Woodward in Dick and as the object of fellow SNL castmate Molly Shannon's unwanted affection in Superstar. A series of scene-stealing supporting roles followed for Ferrell in such films as Drowning Mona, Zoolander, and, most-notably, Old School. In the 2003 Todd Phillips film, Ferrell sunk his teeth into the role of Frank "The Tank", delivering several lines that would forever be quoted by frat guys the world over.

But it was Ferrell's other 2003 film that truly announced his arrival as a Hollywood star. As the oversized titular character in director Jon Favreau's holiday comedy Elf, Ferrell delighted audiences and critics alike, making the modestly-budgeted film a surprise box-office smash. In the wake of Elf's success, Ferrell's 2004 plate was full, starring as fictional '70s TV newscaster Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, taking a role in the Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda, and signing on for lead roles in two long-anticipated projects: the filmed adaptation of John Kennedy Toole's cult novel A Confederacy of Dunces and the big-screen version of the classic sitcom Bewitched.

More fun facts about Will Ferrell

Birth name: John William Ferrell

Height 6' 3½" (1.92 m)

Spouse: Viveca Paulin (August 2000 - present) 1 child

Lives in both Los Angeles and New York City.

While he was in high school, Will made the daily morning announcements over the public access system in disguised voices. This is how he first became interested in performing.

Graduated from University High School in Irvine, California. [1986]

His father, Lee, was a longtime keyboardist and saxophonist for the Righteous Brothers.

Graduated from University of Southern California with a degree in Sports Information. Former member of The Groundlings.

Celebrity impersonations include Alex Trebek, Jesse Ventura, Charlton Heston, Mark McGwire, George W. Bush and Janet Reno.

Portrays 43rd president George W. Bush on "Saturday Night Live" (1975).

Brother of Patrick Ferrell.

Wife is Swedish.

Became "Saturday Night Live" (1975)'s highest paid cast member ever in 2001. Producers were desperate to keep him, resulting in a salary of over $350,000.

Final appearance on 'SNL" on May 18, 2002, followed by career move into full- time movie-acting.

He can be heard (uncredited) in the movie "Kingpin" (1996) in the background during the final bowling scene between Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson's characters yelling "Ernie, you're the man!"

Competed at the Boston Marathon; his official time was 4 hours, 2 minutes, and 29 seconds. [21 April 2003]

Will and his wife, Viv, ran the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2003.

Ferrell and his wife, Viveca, ran in the New York City Marathon in 2001, finishing together in 5 hours, 1 minute and 56 seconds.

Is a member of the Delta Tau Delta international fraternity

Studied at USC in the hopes of becoming a sports broadcaster. He graduated and interned at NBC Sports, but then drew laughs after ad-libbing a joke on-air during one of his broadcasting courses and switched to comedy.

Was not a class clown in high school but a scholar and an athlete.

Son, Magnus Paulin Ferrell, born on March 7, 2004. He weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz.

Was voted the 3rd funniest person in America by Entertainment Weekly.

Played NWA-TNA announcer Don West on "Saturday Night Live" (1975).

His style is unique among modern movie funnymen, a majority of whom have some sort of background in stand-up comedy. Ferrell's humor is character-driven and his genius lies in his improvised riffs from the minds of his typically cracked characters. His appearances on talk shows are often awkward, as he is uncomfortable appearing in public as himself.

The producers of Saturday Night Live were so desperate to keep him in the cast that in 2001 he became the highest paid cast member ever at $350,000 a season.

Is a member of, what the media refers to as, "The Frat Pack," along with Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, and Luke Wilson. The "Frat Pack" name in a reference to the film, Old School (2003), featuring Vaughn, Ferrell and Luke Wilson, due to the wide number of films featuring the six actors. Ferrell's "Frat Pack" films include Zoolander (2001), Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), and Starsky & Hutch (2004).

Ranked #51 in Premiere's 2004 Power 100 List. It is his first appearance on the list.
Personal quotes

"I'm not really an exhibitionist. I'm drawn to the outrageous stuff because it's fun, not because it's some deep compulsion. I'm no tortured, anger-stoked, deeply neurotic comic -- just a pretty low-key normal guy. A 'hey, the glass is half-full' kind of a guy. But please keep it quiet, or I may never work again."


Will Ferell: Film At 11

A scotch-swilling '70s sexist delivering the news — badly. Can Will Ferrell sell it? Are you kidding? The former "Saturday Night Live" MVP, who takes on screenwriting and starring duties in "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," revealed to MTV News' Jeff Cornell how big Burg was born — and why you rarely see him onscreen without a Wilson, Stiller or Vaughn.

MTV: How did the "Anchorman" idea come about?

Will Ferrell: I kind of got the idea watching a special on the news in the '70s. Basically, they were talking to one of these legendary local anchormen who had to work with a woman as a news team for the first time. He was reflecting back and remembering how nasty he was to her, and he was saying, "You have to remember, back then I was a real male chauvinist pig. I did not like women."

And, literally, just that little sound bite was enough, to where I called up [co-writer/director] Adam McKay and we said, "This might be a really funny idea for a movie, just the view inside like a small to mid-level market, the big-fish-in-a-small-pond type of guy has to deal with a woman for the first time, in the mid-'70s. That could be fertile ground for a comedy." And that's how it got started.
MTV: Ron Burgundy — who is this guy?

Ferrell: Ron Burgundy, he is San Diego's number one newscaster. He enjoys a fine glass of scotch — right before he's about to go on the air. His best friend is, well, he's a very dashing ladies' man, kind of a man about town. They're kind of rock stars, in a sense, to San Diego.

However, he is a terrible journalist. He really can only read the news and deliver the news, but if anything is wrong in the teleprompter, if his notes are wrong, he'll just read; he doesn't know the difference. He wouldn't know how to report the story; he doesn't even know what a lead is.

He's kind of the ultimate face guy who meets his match in Christina Applegate, who plays Veronica Corningstone. The station is forced to hire a woman for the first time, and then she becomes the first anchorwoman with him.

MTV: As the screenwriter, I'm sure you wrote a lot of the lines you wanted to say, but how much improv did you allow for on the set?

Ferrell: We made sure we wanted to hire everyone who we ended up casting, and we made sure that they were comfortable with improvising. I would say close to half of the movie is improvised, as a result. Also, Adam and I aren't really precious with the script. If something is funnier than what we have on the page, great, we'll use it.

MTV: Do you slip in and out of character easily, or are you Ron Burgundy on the set?

Ferrell: No, I kind of go back and forth, but that was definitely a fun and easy character to get into right away. You know, people didn't have to refer to me as "Ron" on the set or anything like that. It didn't get too crazy.

MTV: "The Wendell Baker Story" — have you shot that? Who are you playing?

Ferrell: That actually is a cameo that I'm doing. That was shot last summer. I don't know when that's coming out necessarily, but that's a movie that Luke Wilson wrote and directed with his brother Andrew. He plays a great poor con man who gets in and out of trouble. I play this grocery store manager who's dating his old girlfriend, and we kind of have a confrontation. It's just a couple of small scenes.

MTV: "Anchorman" features lots of cameos from people like Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jack Black, people you keep working with. Is this a cycle of friendship? Do you guys just like working together? Why do we keep seeing you in the same movies?

Ferrell: I really think it is — not in a gross way — but there really is kind of a mutual admiration society going on. Everyone really thinks each other is so funny, and it's just so fun to pull people into your movie if you can, and vice versa. We're kind of in a fun little cycle right now where everyone is just having fun.

MTV: You're in a ton of movies coming out. Is this an exciting time for you?

Ferrell: Yeah, it really is. I feel very lucky, and it's fun, yeah.

Will Ferrell channels Woody Allen for 'Melinda and Melinda'

Will Ferrell, the "Saturday Night Live" veteran known for his wacky characters in "Anchorman" and "Elf," seems an unlikely candidate for a Woody Allen film. Yet, in "Melinda and Melinda," Ferrell is cast as the kind of nerdy nebbish that is Allen's voice in all his movies.

Allen combines romantic comedy with drama and tells the story of a couple in two different ways. Ferrell portrays Hobie, a hen-pecked husband of an ambitious director, played by Amanda Peet, who falls for a mysterious neighbor named Melinda, played by Radha Mitchell.

Although he was aware that he's playing the "Woody" role, Ferrell says he was cautious.

"It's obviously written in his voice, so much of it, and I didn't want it to just be a total carbon copy of doing Woody Allen," says Ferrell. "I tried to kind of find the blend between what I kind of do and my interpretation of things and hopefully it's a combination of the two."

It's a throwback to the Oscar-winning director's earlier work. "Yeah, it's reminiscent of a lot of the older themes that you've seen in other films and I think that's what people are really liking about it. When you remember back to Woody Allen films that you like, they made you laugh and they also made you think about things, peculiar but poignant."

Allen's improvisational style worked for Ferrell. "We would kind of go through a scene a little bit, uh, block it slightly but then he just wants to roll the camera and see what happens and that's great," Ferrell says.

He says his connection with Mitchell was immediate.

"Radha and I got to go to a couple dinners together prior to filming and that sort of thing so we got to kind of hang out and get to know each other a little bit and that always helps when you get to do that before working," Ferrell says.

Allen saw Mitchell in a small movie "Ten Tiny Love Stories" and envisioned her in the title role of his new film.

"It was exciting," she says. "You can't like sit around and think about what it means to be in a Woody Allen movie, I mean you just have to be in the scene and it's his whole process of not directing, not directing, not rehearsing and in many ways not directing forces you to just be in the scene and not think too much about what you're doing."

The actress, also known for being in the Oscar-nominated "Finding Neverland," says simply, "I can just retire now. To be in a Woody Allen movie I think is a kind of a dream for many actors. There's something about his characters. I have a feeling that people will always watch Woody Allen movies in the future."

And the usually funny Ferrell says seriously that his dad, a big Allen fan, wrote a letter saying, "Would you please think about putting my son in one of your movies?"

"Melinda and Melinda" opens in limited release Friday and will expand to major cities through April.

Will Ferrell on "Bewitched"

While talking about his new movie, "Anchorman," Will Ferrell dropped a little bit about how the "Bewitched" movie, which will be written and directed by Nora Ephron and starring Nicole Kidman, will be different from the original classic TV show.

"We're kind of doing a different take on the whole thing to begin with which is the reason why I was attracted to doing it in the first place. There's exceptions to the rule but I'm not so much a fan of doing a remake the TV show into a movie type of thing. But the script Nora Ephron has is a really fun, different take on the whole thing. I'll be playing a fallen-from-grace film actor who's had two or three flops and has been talked into making the TV show 'Bewitched.' That's the twist to the whole thing. The characters from the show are either going to be part of the show or pop up in Samantha's life. It's going to be a little bit of a twist. I wouldn't have been attracted to just remaking the TV show because I don’t see the point of making a TV show into a movie."

"Bewitched" goes into production this summer and will be distributed by Universal Pictures.

Will Ferrell on "Anchorman"

Will Ferrell is experiencing some healthy, post-SNL career success. Early in his career, Ferrell starred in several SNL films, like “Superstar,” “A Night at the Roxbury,” and “The Ladies Man,” but has since found his own calling with the likes of “Old School” and “Elf.” This weekend, Ferrell stars in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” from DreamWorks Pictures and below is what he has to say in a recent interview.

Q: When you look back at the old news tapes from the 70s, it doesn’t seem that different from what you guys parody in the movie…

WILL: In talking to some of the local guys we talked to, that’s what we found out: that some of the things we thought of that ended up in the script were not far from the truth. Jack White, who’s a legendary local guy in San Diego, told a story of a news director who directed the news cast from a bar across the street. I wish I had that in the movie. Without knowing it, we were in the same zone.

Q: When you’re writing comedy, does it make it harder or easier to make fun of something that’s so easy to target?

WILL: In terms of writing a script, I don’t think we ever set out to try to find easy targets. We just happen to stumble upon things we think are funny and if happens to be an easy target, then it is. “Saturday Night Live” started doing the fake news in 1975 so it’s not an area that’s new to be made fun of. We just stumbled upon this character and thought it would be a fun setting but it wasn’t a conscious thing like, “Oh this is easy to make fun of, let’s make a movie about news people.”

Q: Is Ron Burgundy based on anybody specifically?

WILL: It’s kind of a mixture of [people]. I just think everyone, at least for people who grew up in the 70s and for kids now, you forget that there was a time before cable and every community had their Jerry Dumphee who can run for mayor. They would go to an opening of a supermarket and 10,000 people would show up. That’s how famous they were. In the back of all of our minds, we have that person. That’s all it was. It wasn’t anyone in particular.

Q: We hear that you did a news program after college. Did you have any intentions of becoming a journalist?

WILL: I didn’t get that far with it. I graduated from college and I worked at a local cable access news show. The person I wanted to be was Chevy Chase. I really didn’t care about reporting. It’s very Ron Burgundy-esque but I didn’t care about getting a news story so I thought, “That’s not very good news instincts to have to become journalist.” But as we did our little broadcast for this show that no one watched, I did want to be on camera. I did have fun playing the news rather than being the news. I didn’t really get a chance to figure out my style even though with the way ESPN kind of changed and brought comedy to sports casting and sports reporting, that’s probably where I would have gone had I stuck with it.

Q: So you knew you wanted to do comedy right away?

WILL: No, not so much. When I graduated college, I just tried my hand at an open mic for standup comedy. [It] was something on my to do list, something I always wanted to try - that and taking an acting class. It was just a period of trying different things and was having fun with it and thought boy if I got paid to do this, this would be fun.

Q: You’re always showing off a lot of skin. Do you get nervous about that?

WILL: I’m not an exhibitionist even though it seems like I always end up doing that! We just wrote scenarios that we thought were funny. In comedy, you either have to go for it, or why are you doing it? I always end up having that approach.

Q: In the course of your research, did you find that sexism still exists in the newsroom?

WILL: It seemed, from the places we went to, that the playing field is pretty equal. It felt like it was 50-50 in terms of men and women you saw working in a newsroom, producers, and on-air talent as well. Of course, they can tell you different stories but obviously sexism still exists. But that’s one of the funny things about the film. I don’t think it exists, at least in popular culture to the extent where it did then, which now seems humorous that men would walk around saying, “Well women can’t do that.”

Q: Well that being said, does it bother you that you with your shirt off gets a laugh and do you strive to get the perfect body as a result?

WILL: It doesn’t really bother me. Not yet. I talk about it a little bit about it in therapy – the fact that when I take my shirt off, laughter starts happening. No, I don’t yearn for the perfect physique. It just won’t happen. This is the body that God gave me so let’s make it work.

Q: How is the “Bewitched” movie going to be different from the show?

WILL: We’re kind of doing a different take on the whole thing to begin with which is the reason why I was attracted to doing it in the first place. There’s exceptions to the rule but I’m not so much a fan of doing a remake the TV show into a movie type of thing. But the script Nora Ephron has is a really fun, different take on the whole thing. I’ll be playing a fallen-from-grace film actor who’s had two or three flops and has been talked into making the TV show “Bewitched.” That’s the twist to the whole thing. The characters from the show are either going to be part of the “show” or pop up in Samantha’s life. It’s going to be a little bit of a twist. I wouldn’t have been attracted to just remaking the TV show because I don’t see the point of making a TV show into a movie.

Black, Lennox and Ferrell signed up for Oscars

Actors Jack Black and Will Ferrell will make their first appearances as Oscar show presenters at the 76th Academy Awards.

Black recently starred in School of Rock and will be seen next in Envy and the animated comedy Shark Tale. His other film credits include Shallow Hal, High Fidelity, Orange County and Jesus' Son.

Ferrell starred in the Christmas comedy Elf and recently completed filming Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and a Woody Allen film scheduled for release in Fall 2004. His film credits also include Old School, Zoolander and A Night at the Roxbury.

Annie Lennox is also making her Oscar telecast debut. Lennox will perform the Original Song nominee Into the West from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. She shares the nomination with Fran Walsh and Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore.

The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2003 will be presented on February 29, (March 1 in Australia), at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Will Ferrell Wanted for 'Elf' Sequel

New Line keen to ink 'Elf 2' deal with the funnyman.

Will Ferrell may just be the busiest man in showbiz at the moment, with no fewer than ten films either in production, about to go into production or waiting to be released.

This year alone sees the big guy star in Woody Allen's 'Melinda and Melinda', TV remake 'Bewitched', football comedy 'Kicking and Screaming', and the movie of the musical of the movie 'The Producers'.

And for much of this success the in-demand actor can thank 'Elf', the surprise festive hit of 2003 that put Ferrell on the international map in spectacular fashion and went on to gross more than $220 million worldwide.

Those box office figures made good reading for the men in suits at studio New Line; so much so that talk has recently turned to a possible sequel, the imaginatively titled 'Elf 2'.

The company is currently in negotiation with Ferrell to reprise his role as Buddy, the oversized elf with a heart of gold, and thanks to recent successes 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy' and 'Starsky & Hutch', it looks as if Ferrell will be able to demand an equally oversized pay packet for his services.

Indeed it sounds like the project is entirely reliant on Ferrell's involvement, with producer Toby Emmerich admitting: 'We're only going to make this if it's with Will.'

Behind the scenes, original 'Elf' director Jon Favreau has first refusal on the project, while Scott Armstrong, who did uncredited work on the first film and also co-wrote 'Old School', may well be charged with writing the script.

To use a nonsensical footballing term, it's early doors yet for the sequel, and with Ferrell tied up well into 2006 don't expect the film to hit cinemas any time soon, but rest assured we'll keep all you 'Elf' fans up to date on the project's progress as and when it happens.

 

Will Ferrell, SNL veteran talks about latest movie, 'Anchorman'

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you some breaking news -- on second thought, this newscast is already broken. It's one man's time-warped tale of local television. He's the legendary Ron Burgundy, who's anything but a humble reporter. "Anchorman" brings it all back, the 'staches, the shoes and the songs.

So what Hollywood leading man in his right mind would want to suffer the indignities of the 1970s sense of style? Will Ferrell, of course.

Ferrell: "Well, Ron Burgundy is very handsome, very charismatic. Has a beautiful mustache."

Couric: "Very vain."

Ferrell: "Very vain… And a terrible, terrible journalist. San Diego just loves him, because they feel, they put their trust in him to deliver the news. But—"

Couric: "Ah, the days, when people actually liked the media, right?"

Ferrell: "Yeah, yeah."

Couric: "And trusted the people who delivered the news.

Ferrell: "Didn't hate the media… I'm not going to say anything."

Summer offers big scares, even bigger stars and festival favorites. By Paige Newman
Hollywood's beginning to trust Will Ferrell. After spending seven seasons on the NBC staple "Saturday Night Live," the 36-year-old Ferrell has found himself on a hot streak, thanks to the college-cult comedy "Old School," and the holiday hit "Elf." And Entertainment Weekly has Will Ferrell on their list of America's favorite funnymen, number three, behind Chris Rock and Jon Stewart.

Vince Vaughn: "What your Google search didn't find is that Will owes me money. A lot of people don't know that he is addicted to Asian games, pai gow, baccarat, and he's lost the ‘Old School’ money. And he's halfway through the ‘Elf’ money."

Naturally, Will's got some showbiz buddies now. But we wanted to bring him back to his humble beginnings at NBC, to see if he would still talk to the people who knew him way back when.

Ferrell: "I'm way too big for a lot of people. I only talk to two people: my therapist—"

Couric: "And me."

Ferrell: "And my Astrologer. And occasionally, Katie Couric. When I see you on my yacht. So, that's it. That's all I got time for."

But if his shrink goes looking for clues to Ferrell's often demented, always boisterous humor, he won't necessarily find them back home, in the suburban enclave of Irvine, Calif.

Couric:"The New York Times called your style of humor quote; 'A clean-cut Orange County pollution-free, suburban kind of funny.'"

Ferrell: "A ha."

Couric: "Some say humor comes from pain. So I thought we'd spend a few moments talking about your—"

Ferrell: "My dark years?"

Couric: "Difficult upbringing and your dysfunctional family."

Ferrell: "Yes. The mean streets of Irvine, California?"

Couric: "Yes."

Compared to his fellow Irvinites, Ferrell's childhood was unconventional. His mom was a community college teacher, and dad was a musician with the Righteous Brothers. In a mostly affluent community, Will lived modestly in the town's only apartment complex.

Couric: "When did you first realize that, hey, I'm funny and I like when people laugh at me?"

Ferrell: "In the 5th Grade. And I learned how to kind of do a pratfall or bump into a door and it got a laugh."

Couric: "How creative."

Ferrell: "Yes. You start simple. It's called baby steps. It's in my autobiography. I know you just talked to the president, but wait for mine. It's coming out. It's baby steps."

The laughs kept coming in high school, but Will wasn't known as the class cut-up. He was a jock, playing football and baseball. Standing 6-foot-3-inches tall, he was a natural on the hardwood.

Coach Steve Scoggin:"He was like my sixth man off the bench. And I would always put him on the other team's best offensive player. And he was my team captain."

His passion for sports, coupled with a gift for gab, sent Ferrell to the University of Southern California in 1986, where he majored in sports journalism.

Ferrell: "And then I realized I didn't really care about reporting or—"

Couric: "You just wanted to be on television?"

Ferrell: "Yeah. I just wanted to be on television. Yep. And now I am. Hello America? Where should I look? Should I look over to this camera?"

Couric: "I think that one's the one."

Ferrell: "Oh, okay."

Couric: "The one with the red light?"

Ferrell: "Yes!"

Clearly, he wasn't ready for primetime. Nevertheless, a fateful moment came his senior year, at a performance given by the L.A. improv comedy troupe, The Groundlings.

Ferrell: "And the great irony is, I got pulled up on stage to be part of an improv. And was terrible at it. Couldn't do anything, but loved the idea of at least taking-- they had a school where you could take class. And so I worked my way through the program there. And The Groundlings actually was where I was seen by producers at ‘Saturday Night Live.’"

From 1996 through 2002, Ferrell became the latest in SNL's long line of great character players, dominating the show with memorable impersonations of former Attorney General Janet Reno and President Bush.

But perhaps his most popular character was the super-charged spartan cheerleader, which he performed with fellow Groundling, Cheri Oteri.

Ferrell: "We stumbled across the fact that she'd been a cheerleader in high school, and I used to love watching the ESPN cheerleading championships."

Couric: "You must love 'Bring It On' then."

Ferrell: "I've never seen it."

Couric: "Oh my god."

Ferrell: "Yeah, I need to see it."

Couric: "I'll have to get that for you."

Ferrell: "Yeah. That would be a nice gift for me."

Couric: "Okay."

Ferrell: "Thank you."

Couric: "Okay."

Ferrell: "Well, I used to watch those college cheerleading championships. And—"

Couric: "They're impressive. Don't you think?"

Ferrell: "They're very impressive.

Couric: "But you weren't."

Ferrell: "No, I-- look, I tried my-- I tried hard. So I don't want to hear it from you."

Couric: "Do you miss 'Saturday Night Live' at all, Will?"

Ferrell: "You know, yes and no. When I left, it was a great time for me. And I don't really look back a lot of times. And I'm on to the next thing."

The next thing for Will Ferrell is a publicity tour for "Anchorman," and in September, he begins shooting the feature film version of "Bewitched," opposite Nicole Kidman.

Couric: "Have you stared to work on your 'Sam!"

Ferrell: "No. I haven't."

Couric: "Well, you know, if you need some help, call me."

Ferrell: "I can give you a call?"

Couric: "Yeah. Yeah. At least you don't have to do the [twinkle nose]"

Ferrell: "Well, I'm going to see you-- I'm going to see you on my private island in a couple of months anyway."

Couric: "Oh, that's true. I forgot."

Ferrell: "So we'll workshop it."

Couric: "Okay."

Ferrell: "Perfect."

The Full-Size Imp Talks Little People, Chevy and Stuffing His Stocking

He streaked through Old School, dressed up as Janet Reno and mocked the President. So, it shouldn't be a surprise that in his first leading movie role, Will Ferrell plays...an elf. Okay, he's a human elf, so they didn't have to miniaturize him or anything. But playing Buddy, Elf's perpetually cheerful man-child, did require the usual amount of shameless outrageousness that seems to come naturally to the 36-year-old comedian.

Claiming he has been nice (as opposed to naughty) this year, Ferrell happily shares secrets he learned while making Elf and sounded off on Christmas and impending fatherhood. He remains mum on only one subject: Do elves have shrinkage? "I'm not supposed to say," Ferrell whispers.


I'd go for basically a can't-be-gotten-hold-of Christmas. I'm dreaming about not having 70 emails and 30 phone messages I have to return. And I will just unplug to get it.

Will Ferrell: Elf Respect

What would it be like to be raised by elves in the North Pole and then, when you grew too tall, sent away to the unfamiliar streets of New York to find your real father? That's the situation facing Buddy, the latest scene-stealing character brought to life by former "Saturday Night Live" funnyman Will Ferrell in "Elf." MTV caught up with Ferrell to talk about cookie-making sellouts, thigh-hugging costumes and body odor issues.

MTV: How would you rank your portrayal of Buddy the elf among other portrayals of elves, such as Legolas from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy?

Will Ferrell: Um, that's a good portrayal. That's a tough one to compete with. Buddy is not very violent, though. I don't think he could ever ride a horse or shoot arrows — he'd probably break his neck immediately. I think Buddy ranks right up their with um, Hermey, the dentist elf in [the 1964 animated TV special "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"]. I think he can hold his own.

MTV: What about the Keebler elves?

Ferrell: Oh, Keebler. Buddy is vastly superior, vastly superior to a Keebler elf. They are kind of the lowest rung of the elf ladder, I hate to say. I hate to be that kind of a person, but no, other elves will shun the Keeblers because they are so commercial.

MTV: You have a really lovely costume in this movie that was probably not a lot of fun to wear around New York City. What was more embarrassing: wearing the elf costume or the streaking you did in "Old School"?

Ferrell: Well ... the streaking. Any time you have clothes on it's easier than no clothes, if that makes sense. The tights don't leave a lot of margin for error, though. Luckily I have a commanding and exquisite physique, so the tights just enhanced all of that.

MTV: "Elf" has a lot of very old-fashioned, very classic elements to it, but it's also really fresh and really new. How do you think this ranks among other Christmas movies?

Ferrell: Well, you know, we really wanted to at least err on that side of giving it a kind of classic feel. We make reference to the Rankin/Bass animation you see in the "Rudolph" special, with the design of the sets and the forced perspective of that. ... And the way New York is shot, kind of a "Miracle on 34th Street" type of feel, even though those are kind of more classic movies, they make the film seem more unique because we haven't seen that in awhile. So we were hoping the best version of this would actually reflect that, and that's kind of the feedback we are getting, and that's great. We wanted also to be really specific in the humor as well, and I think in terms of playing the character that it could never be a character that was ever making fun of the genre. I had to play it straight the whole way through and really be earnest in my exuberance, which is not hard to do, so it was good, it was fun.

MTV: When you used camera angles to exaggerate perspective, making your character appear much taller than the real elves, how did that work in terms of shooting? Bob Newhart was saying he had to stand nine feet away from you.

Ferrell: Absolutely. Yeah, that was one of the more challenging parts of the film, only because it was a pain shooting at times because your eye line had to be exactly specific, and if there was ever movement at all in the scene, you had to pretend to be looking at each other. It was very tough, and it's a tough thing to light and all these things, but it's so much fun to see it when it works. So we kind of had that in the back of our mind even though we laughed about the fact that we never really got to look at each other the entire time. I acted to a tennis ball on a stick for most of the movie.

MTV: You come from such an improvisational background. How was it working with actors like Newhart, James Caan and Ed Asner, who have more of a traditional, straight-ahead approach?

Ferrell: They kind of just fit right into the fold. If anything, I learned more from them than they did from me. They were like, "Whatever, guy. Do your thing." But I think the way my character was played, and their characters, it was easy for me to kind of bounce off of them and, you know, everyone was up for kind of mixing it up in a way, so it worked out fine.

MTV: Ed Asner said it was a pleasure to work with you once he got over the body odor problem.

Ferrell: Is that what he said?

MTV: "After the BO, it's smooth sailing."

Ferrell: That son of a bitch. I'm gonna fight him in the hallway after this, and that's not a joke. I'm not being funny. I'm gonna fight him.

Ferrell Saying Sayonara to "SNL"

Apparently, Will Ferrell is just plain bushed.

After seven years as a Saturday Night Live stalwart, the funnyguy famous for his dead-on impersonation of President George W. Bush's mangled vocabulary has announced he's quitting his gig as a Not Ready for Prime Time Player.

"Being on SNL has been a fulfillment of a dream. This show gave me opportunities that just wouldn't have been possible had I remained a bank teller in Irvine," says Ferrell. "The people I've come to know and work with have made my time here the best it could possibly be. I will truly miss them."
The 35-year-old Ferrell plans on following the well-worn path of other SNL alumni and trying his luck on the big screen.

Ferrell, a former member of L.A.'s famed comedy troupe the Groundlings, joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1995 after being tapped by SNL founder and executive producer Lorne Michaels. He went on to create numerous characters for the show, including Craig the Spartan Spirit cheerleader and Marty Culp, the middle school music teacher who crooned horribly off-key covers of pop tunes.

But it was his signature impressions of Jeopardy!'s Alex Trebek, film buff James Lipton (of Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio), Neil Diamond and a less than sharp George "Dubya" Bush that made him an SNL star and earned him Emmys last year for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program and for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program.

In his downtime from SNL, Ferrell has made a few forays on the big screen, most notably as the Moroccan hit man Mustafa in the Austin Powers franchise. He did a hilarious Bob Woodward in the Nixon spoof Dick and played the villainous fashion designer Mugatu in last year's Zoolander. Ferrell also starred in the sketch-to-screen clunker A Night at the Roxbury and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

In an interview Tuesday with the Los Angeles Times, Ferrell says he still needs to convince studio execs that he's more than a one-dimensional second banana. "I'm in that category of, 'Oh, he's funny,' " Ferrell says, but admits he's not yet in the leading-man leagues.

He currently has three projects in the pipeline that he hopes will make him a star in the vein of such SNL vets as Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler and Mike Myers. (Classic episodes of Saturday Night Live can be seen weeknights on E! at 7 p.m. ET/PT.)

First up is Old School, an Animal House-style comedy costarring Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn as three thirtysomething friends who, disillusioned with life, decide to relive the glory of their college days by founding their own fraternity next to a university. The Todd Phillips (Road Trip) flick is due September 27.

Ferrell will then segue into Elf, a holiday comedy in which he stars as a human raised in Santa's workshop at the North Pole who finds out he isn't actually an elf. That starts shooting in the fall.

Finally, he will join forces with SNL scribe Adam McKay to write Ron Burgundy, in which Ferrell will star as a veteran local TV anchor forced to team up with a female coanchor.


 

 

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