When you’re Will Ferrell, you can probably do anything at this point. A comic farce completely in Spanish? Check. Work with the biggest names in comedy? Check. Accidentally chop a guy’s finger off in your latest role? It probably wasn’t on his bucket list, but he does that and more for his role as suburban-Dad-turned-casino-running-mobster in “The House”.
Ferrell talked to Moviehole.net from the LA set of the film late in 2016.
Tell us about your character.
I play Scott Johansen and Amy [Poehler] and I are your basic suburban couple who’ve done all the things in life that you are suppose to do; live the right way and seemingly invest their money smartly. They then lose the money for their daughter to go to college.
Through the help of their friend they hatch this plan to start a casino in the neighborhood. They’re forced to do it to begin with and then they slowly start to get wrapped up in the seedy underworld of gambling and their alter egos come out.
What’s it like acting with Amy Poehler?
Everyone naturally assumes we’ve worked together because we’ve known each other for so long and we overlapped a little bit on Saturday Night Live, but somehow this is the first movie we’ve done together. It’s nice to finally be working with someone who is a friend but also so incredibly funny, smart and quick.
What’s really nice about this project is we’re on this journey together as a couple. It’s not the wife going ‘honey, stop acting crazy’, we both go crazy. We get to see Amy be funny in this very big way. Seeing her go off the deep end is going to be new for audiences.
But in terms of our working relationship, it’s great. Because of our schedules we didn’t have time to rehearse, so the first day of filming is the first time we did any of the scenes, but we had such a comfort level that we just hit the ground running right away and felt like we were a couple. That really helped.
How’s Andrew Jay Cohen as a director?
I’ve never worked with a more energetic, exuberant director than Andrew. Sometimes you hear him off camera going, ‘Yes, Yes!’, and I’m worried he’s ruining takes. We’re going to have to loop a lot of it because you’re going to hear Andrew in the background. He’s so excited every day, I don’t think you see that much with directors. Usually comedy directors are trying to play it cool and he’s so excited about what kind of shot we are going to do.
I love it, it’s a great way to remind you of how lucky we are to still make movies that make people laugh, and he’s doing an excellent job. For a first time guy he really knows his stuff. He know how he wants the scenes to be shot technically, and he works really well with our DP. He also doesn’t have so much ego that if we decide to change course because we’re not feeling comfortable he will say ‘great, what do you think will work?’
After “Get Hard” this is another comedy about people in difficult economic circumstances. Is that just by accident or are those roles speaking to you?
No. It’s funny how certain projects just kind of happen and you can never predict the timing of things. They presented this to me just as we were finishing “Get Hard”. What’s fun about the story is this; imagine having a casino at the end of the cul-de-sac? What would that bring out in people? It’s the allure and fantasy and excitement of what Las Vegas offers. To have that in your small town and see how it affects everyone is what makes it such a strong premise.
Talk about Scott’s relationship to Amy’s character?
We get to play these very sweet, loving couple that really likes each other and are in love. We’re both teammates. I love that we’re so earnest, we set up this thing where within our family we never lie and now we’re telling the biggest lie of all time.
So, to get to kind of explore and set up the fact that he’s a very earnest, sweet guy and than to go against all that and explore the dark side of this character that’s something he probably didn’t know he had is the fun part, to go through that transformation.
What did you like about the script?
It was just a combination of knowing Andrew and Brendan [O’Brien, screenwriter] and their writing and the premise, it just felt like home. That’s a really accessible premise that feels like a lot of people would want to see that movie. We also immediately thought of Amy to play the wife, and to get to work with her because I haven’t been able to do that. It was a combination of all that.
You have such a storied comedy career in front of the camera, when are you going to direct?
I am directing Les Miserables actually – a remake of Les Miserables, but I only have like an eighth of the budget. So, it’s not going to be very good, but I feel like it is the right opportunity for me.
Would you ever do a film in Spanish again like Casa De Mi Padre?
I don’t know. That was so incredibly hard, and I never got either my Spanish and/or Mexican Oscar for that performance, so why should I try again? It’s funny the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles did a whole retrospective of the movie recently, and we did a Q&A about its artistic content. So take that!
Check back soon for our interview with Andrew Jay Cohen, director of “The House”!