Will Ferrell is a competitive man. On the eve of release of the follow-up to cult 2004 comedy, Anchorman, he’s already talking further instalments. When asked about the likelihood of another Anchorman movie, the towering funnyman starts calculating the numbers of films in famous franchises. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit both get a mention with three.
“Star Wars has seven, Harry Potter has seven,” says Ferrell. “I think we want to break the record and have eight.”
RadioTimes.com points out that Friday the 13th had even more, and that should be the benchmark. “There you go. How many of them?”
10? 11? 13? (There are actually 11, plus a re-boot.) “We gotta make 14,” he says.
He’s joking, of course, but the serious point here is that the Anchorman team, which includes actors Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, David Koechner and directing/producing duo Adam MacKay and Judd Apatow, love to work together.
Ferrell says, “Honestly, if the Mayor of Showbiz came and knocked on our doors and said, ‘You guys, all you get to work on for the next 20 years is 12 additional Anchorman movies’, we probably would all go, ‘Okay’”.
When these guys get together, what results is comedy that inspires a passionate following – and not just among the general public. Ferrell’s hirsute, besuited news anchor character, Ron Burgundy, also has a celebrity fan base.
“I was doing the EMAs [MTV Europe Music Awards] in Amsterdam and the studio really wanted Ron Burgundy to be a part of the show. So I did the red carpet as Ron Burgundy, and did backstage. It’s just hilarious when Katy Perry is like, ‘Ron Burgundy, can I have your photo?’ and more excited to meet Ron Burgundy than almost anyone else.”
Whether it’s Katy Perry begging for a picture, a Dublin-based gentleman dressed in character and silently brandishing a lamp, or an Irish photographer politely requesting Ferrell pen a letter of recommendation so he could obtain a visa (this actually happened), Ferrell has some understanding of how it feels to be starstruck. During filming of a scene in which Harrison Ford, in a cameo role, gets up close and personal, he had to dig deep.
“If you stop and actually think about it in that moment… I don’t think I could have done it,” he says. “You go into that mode. That’s what’s so fascinating about working with other actors. At the point when you go, ‘Action!’ it doesn’t matter that it’s Han Solo or Indiana Jones, you kind of have to put that out of your mind, because it would be so debilitating that you would just be stammering.”
For the record, Will Ferrell does an excellent Harrison Ford impersonation. He also does a decent Garth Brooks turn, breaking into song at the mention of a possible music career. “Garth Brooks had his alter ego, Chris Gaines, who was Australian, I believe,” he says. “Maybe I can do that.” It sounds like the plot of a Will Ferrell movie. As does the world of bull riding, which RadioTimes.com suggests would make a great basis for a film in the McKay/Ferrell line of fringe sports comedies.
“It definitely could be,” says Ferrell. “But my mind immediately goes to: ‘God, I’d have to ride bulls all day'.”
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is in cinemas from 18 December