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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-08-17 05:53:09

tatler man will ferrell


Legend of Ron Burgundy
(2004); Semi-Pro (2008)

Pe op le


Will Ferrell may be a household name and,
thanks to the success of comedies such
as Anchorman, Zoolander and Elf, able to
command multi-million dollar pay cheques,
but Hollywood’s most committed funnyman
is happiest when he’s with his family,
writes Patricia Danaher



here are nearly as Above: Ferrell’s line of work has seen him become the biggest
many adages about comedy star of his generation. Box-office hits such as
comics as there are A relaxed Ferrell poses Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), Old School
varieties of humour, during a photocall for (2003), Blades of Glory (2007), Step Brothers (2008), Zoolander
the film Zoolander No 2 (2001), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) and
so when all 6ft 3in of Will Ferrell on January 30, 2016 his breakout 2003 hit Elf, have grossed a whopping $1.5billion
lumbers into the Hollywood in Rome; [€1.37billion] worldwide, consolidating his position as the go-to
Palladium to meet ITM, I am expecting man for any self-respecting producer looking for a healthy profit.
the next hour to be an amusing, giggly Ferrell with wife
one. I am to be disappointed. Viveca Paulin Like just about any actor under the sun, his career is not
Ferrell is remarkably serious in person, without its duds – a forgettable 2005
while talking about humour, but doesn’t remake of Bewitched and 2012’s Spanish-
waste a scintilla of a joke when it comes language homage to Mexican telenovelas,
to doing the business on the media circuit Casa De Mi Padre – but his ratio of hits to
for his films. The 48-year-old actor, who misses weighs heavily towards the former.
has a degree in sports journalism, says he Indeed, no other comedic actor gainfully
was pretty serious at school too, but was employed today has played – and
also what he describes as “a conscientious frequently written – as many memorable
class clown”. roles as Ferrell. He’s also proved his
“I learned at an early age that I could acting chops with a few serious dramatic
make my friends laugh, which was really a roles, most notably in the 2010 adaptation
special feeling and I love that,” he recalls. of Raymond Carver’s Everything Must Go,
“But I was still a really good student. in which he played a relapsed alcoholic;
I was serious about my school. and in 2006’s Stranger than Fiction, where
“I would make them laugh but then if the teacher was like, he plays a man who realises he’s actually
‘Enough!’ I was like, ‘You got it. No problem.’ I never had a a fictional character. A one-trick pony,
neediness in wanting to make people laugh; I just really enjoy Ferrell is most certainly not.
it but I pick and choose my spots.” Despite being one of the most
Ferrell’s trajectory as an actor has been steady, moving in-demand actors of his generation and,
from studying comedy with the legendary improvisation arguably, the most successful comedic
company, The Groundlings, to stand-up to Saturday Night
Live, to writing and directing movies. Despite a few box office actor working today, Ferrell is not one for navel-gazing. Indeed,
duds, he still commands a reputed $20million for playing the Hollywood powerhouse makes it a priority to keep his size
leads in his own unique comic vehicles. 12s firmly on the ground.
Growing up in Irvine, a small town in Orange County,
California, the son of a musician – his father Lee was a singer “I’ve just had an appropriate sense of where you should
and musician who toured with bands including the Righteous be and it’s always made me laugh when you meet other
Brothers before embarking on a solo career in theatres and actors or other people in this business who think so highly
bars – Ferrell had no illusions what life in show business of themselves because of what they do and are like, ‘Do you
might be like. know who I am?’ It could go away in a second and then who
“When I graduated from college with my journalism degree, are you?”
I didn’t have an immediate job opportunity, so I thought,
while I’m figuring it out, I might as well try my hand at things
I’d always wondered about like stand-up and acting. So, I took
some classes and this ended up being my graduate school.”
It was in an acting class in LA that Ferrell met the woman
who would later become his wife, Swedish-born Viveca
Paulin. They have three sons together, Magnus (11), Mattias
(9) and Axel (5). He beams as he talks about how important
his family life is to his sanity.
“I really value my time with my family – that’s important to
me. I grew up in the entertainment business – watching my
father as a musician, we got to go visit him in Las Vegas and
I really got to see that there isn’t a lot of security in it.
“Things can change all the time and so when things started
happening for me, that helped me to just stay grounded,
because you never know.
“You just feel incredibly fortunate that it’s actually happening
for you and you work hard and you’re serious about it. At the
same time, I don’t have to wake up every day and teach school
or go work in a coalmine or something like that where it’s like
real work.”


Comedy will be a way
to truth in insane
political times

Clockwise from top left:
Ferrell in his breakthrough
role Elf (20o3); with Jon
Heder in Blades of Glory
(20o7); Anchorman: The
Legend of Ron Burgundy
(2004); Semi-Pro (2008)


Clockwise from top left: One such character – and, indeed, the role most beloved of Ferrell’s
Ferrell in Casa De Mi Padre fans – is his sexist, obnoxious newscaster Ron Burgundy, the star of
(2012); with Mark Wahlberg in Anchorman (sample line: “I’m kind of a big deal... People know me...
The Other Guys (2010); with I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment
John C. Reilly in Talladega smells of rich mahogany”). Ironically, this was a project that no Hollywood
Nights: The Ballad of Ricky studio wanted to make.
Bobby (2006); Ferrell accepting
his award at UCD in 2008 “I feel lucky because I’ve gotten to play a lot of roles that I’ve really
enjoyed, but if I had to choose one, it would be Ron Burgundy because
And what sort of a father is he to his three sons? that was one of those typical Hollywood stories that it took us like three
“Really severe,” he says, cracking his only joke of the morning. “No, years to get it made and people thought it was a script no-one wanted to
it’s really kind of a mix. My wife and I are a team in how we raise our kids make and we just kept pushing it.
and we have a lot of fun with them. At the same time, we don’t want
them to grow up to be Hollywood brats, so we try to strike a balance.” “Even in the making of it, the studio still felt like they just didn’t know
While endless Hollywood Walk of Famers profess how the most what this movie was and the fact that it has grown in popularity over the
important thing to them is their family, it’s clear that Ferrell is genuine. years just kind of shows that we were on the right track.”
Aside from his role as a husband and father-of-three, he is very close to
both his father and his only brother, Pat. The three of them have had Ferrell has yet to attend either the Cat Laughs Festival in Kilkenny or the
some memorable trips to Ireland in recent years, discovering their Edinburgh Comedy Festival, although both are on his wish list. However,
ancestry in Co Leitrim and taking in some Ireland football and rugby he does give new comics a leg up via the Emmy-winning comedy video
matches. He’s even paid a visit to UCD where, in 2008, he picked up the website, Funny or Die, which he co-founded with his long-term writing
James Joyce Award from the university’s Literary and Historical Society, partner, Adam McKay.
giving a hilarious acceptance speech in the process.
“We’ve had some of the best times in Ireland, the three of us, and it Consisting of short skits (the most popular, with 82 million views,
was such a privilege for me to bring my father there for the first time two sees Ferrell being berated by his drunken landlord, played by a toddler)
years ago,” Ferrell recalls with a smile. and on-going series (the highlight being Zach Galifianakis’ brilliantly rude
“I’m going back myself in July and I’m hoping to stay on a bit longer. mock-interview show, Between Two Ferns), Funny or Die has has become
I’d love to make a movie there, but it’s just so expensive. I’ve looked at something of a web phenomenon and a fertile breeding ground for new
50 different ways of shooting a movie in Ireland, but the costs would be TV shows and films.
totally insane.”
Ferrell has showed most talent as a comic actor and writer, but he “We get a lot of stuff sent our way and we continue to try to get behind
hasn’t been afraid of political satire. He has called satirist Jon Stewart up-and-coming directors,” Ferrell explains. “It’s kind of fun meeting up
“the voice of reason” and believes that “comedy will be a way to truth in and honing new talent and give them a vote of confidence and try to help
insane political times”. them along.
Much of Ferrell’s success comes, it seems, from not just an impeccable
sense of comic timing but his skill at playing deeply unlikable, even utterly “As a comedian, you just have to go with your gut in terms of what
amoral characters that should, theoretically, be despicable – yet he ideas you think are funny. You don’t sit there thinking, ‘Is this going to be
manages to give them a semblance of humanity that the audience can funny enough for the rest of the world to understand?’ Having said that, I
relate to. think there are things that translate better, like physical humour or drunk
people. That’s why The Hangover was such a success.”
I wish I could tell
you I sat and read Given his business acumen – he has a net worth of $80million – and
James Joyce and his determination to keep pushing the boundaries of his career beyond
it inspired me to merely being a comic actor, Ferrell also believes it’s good to give something
become a comedian, back when you have achieved success, which was the motivation behind
but it didn’t! Funny or Die.

1617 IRISH TATLER MAN “I wish I could tell you I sat and read James Joyce and it inspired me to
become a comedian, but it didn’t! I still view myself as an actor, first and
foremost, and performing is still my main job and first love. But in setting
up Funny or Die, Adam McKay and I both view it as a way to give a leg up
to new talent that’s coming through, in much the same way that someone
gave us a break.

“We get excited about finding scripts and material that we can give
momentum to and that maybe others might find too strange or left of
centre. We’re always looking to find the next thing that’s different and

“The internet is still evolving and still like the Wild West in some
ways and we don’t know how it will shake down in the end. The younger
generation gets its entertainment from a mix of film, television and the
internet. A lot of young filmmakers are trying to get their videos on Funny
or Die and a lot of television executives are seeing them and calling them
in for auditions.”

In the event that Ferrell and McKay’s online search for The Next Big
Thing or a killer script proves futile, they could do worse that turn to
Ferrell himself. He has previously mentioned how he “never really had a
shortage of ideas” and how they “have always come fairly easily”.

Let’s hope the ideas continue to flow. The silver screen without Will
Ferrell would be an infinitely duller place. ITM

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