Interview : Will Ferrell & John C.Reilly


Clint talks to the “Talladega Nights” stars

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly have landed in Australia to spruik their hit comedy, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”. While the interviewers opener should be something about how successful the film has been in the states, or how much of a change of a pace the film is for Reilly (known for his roles in more dramatic pieces like The Aviator and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?) – Clint Morris decides to go against the grain and open the tête-à-tête with a comment on good ol’ H2O – As in, ours is better than theirs.

John C. Reilly: [in newscaster voice] We’ll tell you at 11…
Will Ferrell: …why it’s unsafe to drink your tap water.
J R: I drink the water [back home]
W.F: I drink the water [too], but I do have a filter.
J.R: I don’t have a filter, but I drink the tap water by way of the icemaker in the refrigerator – but I don’t drink a lot of water

There’s a news headline waiting to happen
W.F: This is in-depth [Laughs]
J.R: Its good we came out here to Melbourne because I needed to get this off my chest!

Well, the next question is about Appleby’s
W.F: Oh, yeah.
J.R: if you like Steak and Shrimp…
W.F: Do you have Appleby’s here?

No we don’t. I was actually keen to go to Appleby’s having now heard so much about in the movie – but everyone has been suggesting against it.
W.F: So did you go?

No I didn’t, so what’s the go with it? Is it like T.G.I Friday?
W.F: It’s in that similar vein.
J.R: Only TGIF is more of a singles place.
J.R: Appleby’s is kind of like a family dinner place.
W.F: The commercials are hyper….
J.R: Themed meals. [In announcer voice] ‘Our South of the Border Tequila Sauce will have you hoppin’!’
W.F: But then there’s the Outback steakhouse, which is an Aussie theme!
J.R: Do you have them here?

No we don’t.
J.R: They don’t even have them here!!?

I tell ya what did have me hoppin’ though – El Compadre.
W.F: On Sunset? Yeah, that’s pretty bad Mexican food.

It’s pretty heavy stuff. The drinks were all right…
W.F: Yep.

Tell me about “Talladega Nights”… or, we could return to talking about water?
W.F: Or In-N-Out Burger. That’s an American classic.

Was the inspiration for the film Days of Thunder? John, you would have had a few “Days of Thunder” flashbacks?
J.R: Ask the writer (Ferrell). I was just a hired gun.
W.F: We did watch Days of Thunder – just for kicks – and we also wanted to watch Robert Duvall talk to a car. [In Duvall voice] ‘C’mon, I want you to be real good out there’
J.R: He says exactly what he’s going to do.

It’s kinda a whole sex thing
J.R: ‘I’m gonna buff your rear end, then I’m going to slip this fuel through to you, and I’m gonna pump you full of high-octane baby’. Something like that. Pretty perverted.
W.F: [Laughs] Now we, um…

Which begs the question, was Robert Duvall’s last film Broken Trail or Broken Tail?
W.F: [Laughs]. Um, what was the question again? Oh yeah, Days of Thunder. No, we just watched the film for shits and giggles. The movie was a go and we were already writing it. We created our own tale?

Are you a NASCAR junkie?
W.F: Far from it. The whole long story is that Anchorman took us three years to get made because they thought the film was just too abstract – they just gave us a really hard time, and as we were commiserating, we said we should pick a topic that is really accessible [to do next]. At first we dismissed the idea of NASCAR, but then we double backed to it, once we realised it could be a good idea. We realised nobody was actually doing a comedy about that.

Even if people don’t know about NASCAR, they know about the culture that’s surrounded it…
J.R: I don’t think you necessarily have to be a NASCAR expert to enjoy the movie – there’s something quite basic about winning a race.
W.F: And people love idiots.

And Highlander.
W.F: Oh Yes. Highlander. We watched that more times than Days of Thunder actually. We watched it for like a year, until it was burnt in…

Um, just wanted to bring up water again. No, what about Manimal?
W.F: Manimal came up when I did the Jonathan Ross show in London. He bought up Manimal.
J.R: It was a big hit outside of America.
W.F: Patrick Duffy in the Man from Atlantis [too].

When you’re introducing a new team member into the ‘Will Ferrell nexcess’ – like John C.Reilly or Amy Adams, who are obviously talented actors, but you mightn’t have thought about them or associated them with comedy…how do you determine whether they’ll be on your wavelength comedically?
W.F: Well, with John, we had known him for a while, and he knew he was really funny – because he’s been funny even in some of his more dramatic movies. That was kind of a no-brainer. But being on Saturday Night Live, I realised that a lot of the great dramatic actors were great on the show – because they were committed to the character, they weren’t necessarily worried about getting a laugh, and therefore they’d always get the laugh because they weren’t pushing things. So we’re a big fan of casting and using actors that you wouldn’t normally think of…like Michael Clarke Duncan. That type of thing is like a fun surprise for the audience.

Do the more dramatic characters you’ve played, like the characters you’ve played in “Winter Passing” and “Stranger than Fiction”, stream from the same place as Ricky Bobby?
W.F: Its different if you have to cry all day long for a movie, than if you have to be funny.
J.R: Both are exhausting …and ultimately meaningless. No, the technique is the same and whatever the circumstance is and whatever the tone of the material is is not dictated by whatever kind of actor you are – it’s dictated by the material. You just adapt.
W.F: The thing I get asked is ‘Comedy is harder right’? And while I don’t think comedy gets enough respect, I still don’t know if it’s harder, because the few dramatic stuff that I’ve had to do is really hard. I’m in awe of people that can just go in and out of places that they have to be dramatically. Comedy is just goofing around – at its core.

I hear you’re wonderful in “Stranger than Fiction” though. Hearing some good things…
W.F: Yeah, I’ve heard that too. [Laughs]
J.R: I’ve heard it’s a real stinker!
W.F: It got seven clunks on… I don’t know what a clunk is.
[All proceed to make CLUNKing noise]
J.R: Like Tivo, when you make a mistake on it. It goes CLUNG, CLUNG…
W.F: You got Tivo?

No, we don’t.
W.F: It’s going to change the face of TV…. You’re gonna love it!

I got to know it over there, I loved it.
W.F: Isn’t it great?!

We’ve got Foxtel I.Q here but nothing compared to that
W.F: Yeah

So tell us about “Stranger than Fiction”
W.F: It’s directed by Marc Forrester and written by this guy named Zach Helm. It’s kind of a [pause] … it’s a movie that’s kinda of hard to describe in a way because its very funny but then it gets very real and unfunny at times…
J.R: That’s the part I heard about. The clunking part.
W.F: [Laughing] It cruises along…and then it gets really clunky.
J.R: When I heard the concept for that movie I was like ‘Oh my god, that’s perfect’ and it really is kind of the perfect material for Will to make that transition to more serious acting. It sounded really good

What was the origin of ‘Shake and Bake’?
W.F: We tried to think of what the most jackass saying would be, one that we could just repeat over and over and over…
J.R: We were originally Thunder and Lightning, but then we found out that there were two characters named Thunder and Lightning [in the film], so midway through the movie we had to change our catchphrase. Thank god we found Shake and Bake!
W.F: And it’s also a product…
J.R: …From America, that allows you to make fried chicken in the oven, which is a treat.
W.F: Magic.

This movie just works on so many levels; Zach Helm is shitting himself right now…

That’s going BOLD! [Laughs]
Finally, can you give us the status of “Old School 2” and “Elf 2”?
W.F: Elf 2 got killed. I killed Elf 2. Old School 2 is apparently being written…

I hear Todd Phillips just finished the script – so you’ll probably get that when you get back
W.F: Which I will immediately kill [Laughs]

Can we get a quick update on the upcoming projects of John C.Reilly?
J.R: I’m in The Year of the Dog with Molly Shannon, written and directed by Mike White, and I’ve just finished a movie with Sean William Scott called Quebec, written and directed by Steve Conrad, who wrote The Weatherman. Those are a couple of projects you can look forward to seeing me in. And then, Will and I, and [Talladega writer/director] Adam McKay, are concocting another film…getting the team back together…
W.F: …for a movie with the working title Stepbrothers. It will be shot next year.