CLUE­LESS!

WILL FER­RELL and JOHN C. REILLY put a comedic spin on the iconic Vic­to­rian su­per­sleuth and his trusty as­sis­tant in Holmes & Wat­son.

Chattanooga Times Free Press - Parade - - Clueless! - By Mara Re­in­stein

acrime has been com­mit­ted in Buck­ing­ham Palace. Who­dun­nit? Fear not, Sher­lock Holmes and his trusty as­sis­tant Dr. Wat­son are on the case!

In Holmes & Wat­son (in the­aters Dec. 25), Will Fer­rell, 51, stars as the leg­endary sleuth, and his real-world side­kick John C. Reilly, 53, plays his No. 2.

Yep, the same duo that de­liv­ered belly laughs in Tal­ladega Nights: The Bal­lad of Ricky Bobby and Step Broth­ers is tak­ing on the stuffy Vic­to­rian era, and fans of the Fer­rell and Reilly tag team will get a healthy dose of their patented phys­i­cal and en­dear­ingly im­be­cilic hu­mor. “This does feel like a con­tin­u­a­tion of our other movies,” Reilly says, adding that he and Fer­rell have a “real comedic kin­ship.”

Com­edy Com­rades

The son of a teacher and a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian who toured with the Right­eous Broth­ers, Fer­rell hatched his com­edy style back in ele­men­tary school in Irvine, Calif. “I learned that if you kicked the door and snapped your head back at the same time, it looked like you smacked into the door,” he re­calls. “I tried it, and it got rave re­views.” Af­ter grad­u­a­tion from the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, he went into com­edy full-time and joined the L.A. im­pro­vi­sa­tional troupe the Groundlings in 1994.

Just one year later, a Satur­day Night Live pro­ducer watched his act and en­cour­aged him to try out for the iconic sketch show. For seven sea­sons be­tween 1995 and 2002, he was a stand­out with im­pres­sions of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, Jeop­ardy! host Alex Tre­bek and base­ball an­nouncer Harry Caray. He tran­si­tioned eas­ily to the big screen in hit come­dies such as Elf (2003), Old School (2003) and Daddy’s Home (2015).

Reilly, mean­while, grew up in work­ing­class Chicago, where his dad ran an in­dus­trial linen sup­ply com­pany. His first au­di­ence: his five sib­lings. “I didn’t know any­one in show busi­ness when I was a kid and never dreamed that’s what I would do as a liv­ing,” he says. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from DePaul Univer­sity in Chicago, he was hired as an ex­tra in the 1989 drama Ca­su­al­ties of War, where he met his wife, pro­ducer Al­i­son Dickey, on the set; they now have two col­legeage sons. Meatier roles in many other films soon fol­lowed, in­clud­ing Boo­gie Nights, The River Wild, Mag­no­lia, Gangs of New York and Kong: Skull Is­land.

Fer­rell and Reilly met in 1999 and be­came al­most in­stant friends. But it wasn’t un­til 2006 that they first col­lab­o­rated on­screen, in the NASCAR spoof Tal­ladega Nights. Two years later, in Step Broth­ers, they caused hi­jinks as bick­er­ing blended-fam­ily ri­vals who be­come best buds. The two stars have also stayed close

over the years, as Fer­rell notes that Reilly and Dickey are reg­u­lars at his fam­ily’s an­nual Swedish Christ­mas party.

Sher­lock Rocks

For Holmes & Wat­son to stay true to Sher­lock’s roots, they shot on lo­ca­tion in Lon­don—a first for Fer­rell, who had never filmed out­side the United States or Canada. Work­ing on the set—with co-stars Ralph Fi­ennes, Re­becca Hall, Kelly Mac­don­ald and Steve Coogan—they were in­tent on ad­her­ing to the essence of their char­ac­ters, down to recit­ing some of Sir Arthur Co­nan Doyle’s orig­i­nal prose. “I didn’t want to change the lan­guage,” Fer­rell says. “I mem­o­rized a lot of long pas­sages. At times, it was lim­it­ing be­cause it ham­pered my im­prov brain.” Both ac­tors in­sist, how­ever, that Holmes & Wat­son is not a slap­stick, Vic­to­rian-era Step Broth­ers. “This is not a case of two lost souls com­bin­ing their strange su­per­pow­ers to do noth­ing,” Fer­rell ex­plains. “Sher­lock has this su­per­hu­man abil­ity to de­ci­pher all this in­for­ma­tion in a way that will al­ways be for­ever cool.” Beat. “And his hat is pretty awe­some.”

Funny Mat­ters

In con­ver­sa­tion, Fer­rell and Reilly both cir­cle back to the same topic: the won­drous joy of mak­ing peo­ple laugh. “I have a spe­cial af­fec­tion for come­dies,” Reilly says. “I al­ways get asked, ‘Do peo­ple come up to you [and ask you] about Step Broth­ers all the time?’ And I say, ‘Only when I’m in pub­lic.’They ap­pre­ci­ate it. It’s not lost on me.”

Fer­rell ad­mits that he still has pinchme mo­ments about his com­edy ca­reer. “Up un­til seven or eight years ago, my wife and I still joked that if it all fell apart, what could we pos­si­bly do? Maybe open a busi­ness of ken­nel­ing dogs or be UPS driv­ers. We fi­nally stopped think­ing of plan Bs.”

Fer­rell and his wife, art auc­tion­eer and ac­tress Viveca Paulin, who wed in 2000, have three boys— Mag­nus, 14; Mat­tias, 11; and Axel, 8—and he proudly says they all have in­her­ited his funny bone. His old­est, a high school fresh­man, re­cently posed for his class photo wear­ing his friend’s eye­glasses and a se­ri­ous ex­pres­sion. “He asked me if he was in trou­ble and I told him, ‘Mag­nus, that is to­tally my sense of hu­mor.’” Still, his sons don’t nec­es­sar­ily hud­dle around the TV this time of year to catch his Christ­mas com­edy clas­sic Elf (see “Ev­ery­one’s Fa­vorite Elf,” page 10). “We’ve never forced them to watch my stuff,” he says. “My sixth-grader just got into Satur­day Night Live, so he’s been watch­ing a few things on YouTube and ask­ing me about it.”

The key to mak­ing peo­ple laugh? “You have to get over any kind of shame—and it’s an un­nat­u­ral thing for us to do as hu­man be­ings,” Fer­rell says. “My kids are like, ‘Dad, how did you do that? Isn’t that em­bar­rass­ing?’ You do look stupid but you have to have fun.”

And when you do, the re­wards are price­less. “The whole point of mak­ing movies and be­ing ac­tors is to move peo­ple and have stuff res­onate,” Reilly says. “That grat­i­tude that peo­ple have when you give them laugh­ter is dif­fer­ent than the grat­i­tude peo­ple have for an ac­tion movie or a dra­matic movie.

“There’s some­thing spe­cial about al­le­vi­at­ing peo­ple’s suf­fer­ing with laugh­ter.”

As Sher­lock would say, that’s ele­men­tary, my dear Wat­son. ETTY IMA ESAE

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