Ron’s long- awaited return
WILL Ferrell is accustomed to disappointing people. No one expects a plumber to replace the tap washers if he comes over for drinks. But when a comedian sits down at the dinner table, people pretty much take it as a given he’s going to make them laugh.
“I’ve made peace with myself that I am continually letting people down in face- toface meetings,” says the 45- year- old father of three, in Sydney for the Australian premiere of
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
“I know I will have encounters where we’ll say hello and we’ll take a picture, and they are walking away going, ‘ Not that funny in person’. “I know that’s the truth.” It’s lucky for Ferrell, then, that he never saw humour as a means of making friends or infl uencing people.
“The needy acceptance thing never drove my comedy,” he says. “I was just fascinated by it. Even as a kid, I loved watching the science or the arithmetic of a really gifted comedian.
“I wouldn’t laugh at something, I would just say, oh, that’s funny. That’s funny.”
Like Ben Stiller, who was in Sydney the same week for the premiere of The Secret Life of
Walter Mitty, and his Anchorman 2 co- star Steve Carell, returning as one- of- a- kind weatherman Brick Tamland, Ferrell is quite happy to take a back seat to his larger- than- life comedy creations.
Creations such as Ron Burgundy, a man who exists at the very epicentre of his own lurid universe.
“It’s very fun to play, because I am far from overly confi dent, personally,” Ferrell says of his best- loved character, a man so sensationally self- absorbed he walks out on his wife ( Christina Applegate) at the start of Anchorman 2 because she gets the job he assumed was earmarked for him.
“I wouldn’t say I lack confi dence, either, but I mean, I would never have predicted any of this would happen to me.”
Ferrell isn’t the only one to have been surprised by his remarkably fl uid transformation from jobbing comedian to A- list Hollywood star.
DreamWorks certainly didn’t expect much from the original Anchorman when it released the fi lm in 2004.
“When you think back to the fi rst one, it was barely released internationally. They just didn’t think it would play,” Ferrell says.
The writer- actor- producer regards this international tour, which kicked off in Australia on November 24 with a red- carpet premiere attended by Ferrell, Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and director Adam McKay, as something of a vindication.
“It’s a bit of a victory lap for the fi rst one, which we never got to take because it was such a slow build,” he says.
The original Anchorman took exactly half of Elf’s $ 173 million at the box offi ce. Its total earnings were $ 60 million less than Talladega
Nights, Ferrell’s second highest- grossing comedy.
But over time, the legendary Ron Burgundy has certainly lived up to his title, as the starstudded line- up in Anchorman 2 attests.
Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey, Tina Fey and Kirsten Dunst are some of the actors who feature in a very long list of credits.
Ferrell says Australian fans played a major part in the newsreader’s return to the big screen.
“Every time I came down here, I would get two questions about the current movie I was promoting and then the next eight questions would be about
Anchorman, and are you going to do a sequel?” he recalls.
“I would go back to [ director] Adam [ McKay] and say it’s crazy the following Anchorman has in Australia. It kind of chipped away at our initial contempt for sequels.”
According to Ferrell, the journalistic satire of the fi rst fi lm was almost accidental.
“Everyone immediately thought it was a send- up of news, but we saw it more as a battle of the sexes. We thought of a newsroom and what it was like the fi rst time a woman entered it. It was more about petulant behaviour. The commentary on local news was somewhat of a byproduct.”
Given Anchorman 2 is yet to even hit the cinemas, Ferrell describes talk of another sequel as somewhat premature.
“On the birth of our third boy, the nurse is like, are you going to try for a girl now?
“I am thinking, can’t we just check this guy fi rst?”