THE CAM­PAIGN

Will Fer­rell wants your vote

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

WHEN talk­ing pol­i­tics – or any­thing for that mat­ter – with Will Fer­rell and Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis, get­ting a straight an­swer is no mean feat.

Two of the most in- de­mand movie funny men around, the pair have joined forces for the timely The Cam­paign, and sit­ting side by side in a Bev­erly Hills ho­tel, it’s easy to see how they make a dream com­edy ticket.

Ex­hibit A is Fer­rell, dis­cussing what he would do to clean up the money- tainted mess that is Amer­i­can pol­i­tics.

‘‘ I would make ev­ery mem­ber of Congress hold hands and sing a Bea­tles song be­fore ev­ery ses­sion,’’ he says, ut­terly stony- faced.

‘‘ They could ro­tate it and just get a good feel­ing go­ing, and then just go around the room say­ing one pos­i­tive thing about the per­son next to them. And then start dis­cussing the is­sues of the day.’’

Gal­i­fi­anakis chips in: ‘‘ I would just make it so there’s no lit­ter­ing. It wouldn’t do any­thing but it would make me feel pow­er­ful.’’

Or then there’s the mat­ter of their eagerly an­tic­i­pated se­quels – An­chor­man for Fer­rell and The Han­gover 3 for Gal­i­fi­anakis – which are due to open next year.

‘‘ I have to re- au­di­tion,’’ says the tow­er­ing Fer­rell of the prospect of repris­ing the jazz- flut­ing, richly mous­ta­chioed news­reader Ron Bur­gundy. But ( di­rec­tor) Adam McKay told me I was in the top five. And if I don’t get Ron Bur­gundy I can au­di­tion for one of the lesser mem­bers of the cast.’’

And as for sad­dling up again with the Wolf Pack, the man who dreamed up the clue­less but lov­able man- child Alan says: ‘‘ We are do­ing Han­gover 4 but not 3. We fig­ure peo­ple can make up their mind where 3 would be.’’

Both ex­perts at im­pro­vis­ing, the free and easy ban­ter can be hard to keep up with as they wan­der off hi­lar­i­ously on tan­gents, and oc­ca­sion­ally se­ri­ously con­tem­plate the state of the US as it gears up for an elec­tion – but on hear­ing that Aus­tralia’s prime min­is­ter is a fe­male, child­less, un­mar­ried athe­ist

I would make ev­ery mem­ber of Congress hold hands and sing a Bea­tles song be­fore ev­ery ses­sion

who lives with her part­ner, Fer­rell is mo­men­tar­ily dumb­founded. ‘‘ Wow,’’ he says, eyes widen­ing. ‘‘ Well, that’s re­ally pro­gres­sive – that should be able to hap­pen here but we are a long way off.’’

The Cam­paign, about two ri­val politi­cians who will stop at noth­ing to get elected, is di­rected by Jay Roach, the man be­hind come­dies Austin Pow­ers and Bo­rat, as well as more se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal ef­forts The Re­count and last year’s Sarah Palin biopic Game Change.

While the very adult com­edy, in which ba­bies and dogs are in­ad­ver­tently punched and grown men act like self- ob­sessed chil­dren, has much more in com­mon with the first two, there are some se­ri­ous points be­hind the belly laughs that say a lot about the role played by money, re­li­gion and the me­dia in pol­i­tics.

And while nei­ther the di­rec­tor nor the ac­tors set out to make a ‘‘ po­lit­i­cal’’ movie, in an Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal sys­tem that is get­ting weirder by the day, some­times it seemed like the out­ra­geous gags they came up with were not go­ing far enough.

This, af­ter all, is the coun­try that gave the world the mag­nif­i­cently named An­thony Wiener, the con­gress­man who emailed a pic­ture of his nether re­gions to a woman who was not his wife. ‘‘ That is still baf­fling,’’ Fer­rell says. Gal­i­fi­anakis goes on to ex­plain: ‘‘ We are just try­ing to make a com­edy but there are things where we are wav­ing our hands in a funny way say­ing there are some key things here. And it’s not right or left. That’s the magic of it – ev­ery­thing is screwed up.’’

While the Cam­paign is the first movie the two co­me­di­ans have ap­peared in to­gether, the pair have known each other for years af­ter meet­ing dur­ing Gal­i­fi­anakis’ brief stint as a writer on Satur­day Night Live, the US skit show that launched Fer­rell’s ca­reer.

While they, along with reg­u­lar col­lab­o­ra­tor Adam Mckay, searched for a project to do to­gether, Fer­rell be­came fas­ci­nated with one of Gal­i­fi­anakis’ char­ac­ters he called ‘‘ the ef­fem­i­nate racist’’, con­vinced that there was a movie in it. Ini­tially they planned to set their story in the world of boy pageants but the larger- than- life world of US pol­i­tics proved to be too fer­tile a comic gar­den to ig­nore.

Even though Fer­rell had be­come known for his im­pres­sions of Ge­orge W. Bush on Satur­day Night Live and his 2009 Broad­way show You’re Wel­come Amer­ica: A Fi­nal Night With Ge­orge W. Bush, he says the for­mer US pres­i­dent didn’t influence his char­ac­ter in The Cam­paign – the ve­nal, preen­ing, amoral Cam Brady.

‘‘ We stole some things from ac­tual

po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates and their be­hav­iour but I don’t know if that re­ally in­formed this,’’ he says.

‘‘ The hair is re­ally a trib­ute to John Ed­wards – he had the most beau­ti­ful hair in pol­i­tics.’’

Gal­i­fi­anakis could have used his fam­ily po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions for re­search – his un­cle was a con­gress­man for North Carolina be­tween 1967 and 1973 – but he says he turned to the ever- cra­zier cam­paign ads that were air­ing dur­ing the Repub­li­can pri­maries.

‘‘ All I did was watch the po­lit­i­cal news – on both sides,’’ he says.

‘‘ The Repub­li­can de­bates were go­ing on and we were draw­ing from that a lit­tle bit. ‘‘ Also watch­ing Fox News and MSNBC, ev­ery­thing is un­der a mag­ni­fy­ing glass these days.

‘‘ You al­most have to start run­ning from of­fice as a kid to make sure there is noth­ing in your closet.

‘‘ Who doesn’t in their life have a thing they don’t want peo­ple to know about?’’

With the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion just months away, now is the time when the Ge­orge Clooneys and Matt Da­mons of the world start to throw their weight be­hind can­di­dates hop­ing their celebrity shine will rub off.

While Fer­rell is un­likely to ap­pear on the hus­tings with his arm draped around Barack Obama, he says he has no prob­lem with those who see it as their demo­cratic right.

‘‘ It’s a bit of a dou­ble- edged sword in way,’’ he says.

‘‘ You will hear peo­ple say ‘ I don’t want to see a bunch of ac­tors cam­paign­ing’ and yet those peo­ple are cit­i­zens, so if they are asked by a cam­paign, then why shouldn’t they be able to do that?’’

Gal­i­fi­anakis has a the­ory on why the con­ser­va­tive side of pol­i­tics gets so fired up at the celebrity Demo­crat sup­port­ers, who seem to wildly out­num­ber their Repub­li­can coun­ter­parts.

‘‘ You hear it a lot from the right side of the spec­trum about ‘ those stupid ac­tors up there’ but the Repub­li­can Party – they ac­tu­ally try to elect ac­tors,’’ he says. ‘‘ Ron­ald Rea­gan, the guy from the Love Boat ( Fred Grandy), Fred Thomp­son, Sonny Bono.’’

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