Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Will Ferrell article for GoTriad.

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Will Power: there's a serious side to Ferrell's films

CHAPEL HILL - It's rehearsal time for Will Ferrell.

The "Saturday Night Live" alumnus and star of blockbuster films "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights" stands on a stage on the Tar Heels' basketball court. Donning a blue and red jump suit for the now-defunct American Basketball Association, Ferrell waits for the announcer -- who just so happens to be Adam McKay, his writing partner and frequent director -- to drop an intro laden with the duo's patented brand of bizarre hyperbole and false truths.

"And now here he is," says McKay, his amplified voice echoing across the dome. "The man who invented the Waldorf salad and took Paula Abdul's virginity in 1984.

"He's the man who turned the silver screen into pure gold. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Will Ferrell!"

Suddenly, the techno theme for "Mortal Kombat" blasts from the speakers as Ferrell enters the stage performing half-hearted karate chops and kicks on a group of young performers who either fall to the ground or run away. A stuntman aims a bow and arrow at Ferrell, who pretends to catch an arrow in mid-air and send it flying into the stuntman's heart.

(To read the rest of the article, click here.)

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So yeah, I got to meet Will Ferrell last week. The experience was intense, because from the get-go, the piece was going to be a cover story. And because every TV network, radio station, print daily, and college paper in the state wanted a piece of the A-list star, there was no way I could secure a one-on-one with Ferrell, thus leaving me without the security that my article would be any good.

So I did my homework. I started watching all of Will Ferrell's comedies, including an advanced screening of Semi-Pro, when it suddenly dawned on me, that if Will Ferrell wasn't the goofy star of his own movies, some of them would become cautionary socio-political dramas - or satires at the very least. American excess is in abundance in all of Ferrell's solo comedies, as he and co-writer Adam McKay show how it's driving our nation's culture downward. Ricky Bobby is a terrible parent and moron who truly believes Highlander is the greatest film ever made, and Anchorman's Ron Burgundy embodies everything that's wrong with journalism in America.

It was a bit of a stretch, yes, but I figured it would be my way to write an article that was about something other than 'Will Ferrell is a funny guy who came to North Carolina last weekend.' So I prepared my one question, entered the room with seven other print journalists, and waited nervously for my opportunity. The whole time, I knew there was a chance Ferrell would hear my question, say, "I don't know what the hell you're talking about," and move on.

But when I noticed a brief gap in the conversation, I took my opportunity. This is what happened:



The entire point of my article hinged on Ferrell's response to this one question, and thankfully, it paid off. Mind you, a moment beforehand, he felt he was accused of making nothing besides silly comedies about sports, so it seems like he was kinda happy someone in the room was giving him a little more credit.

(NOTE: I paid a Movie Show crew member to video tape the entire interview for me, which I will release un-cut this Friday. In the meantime, you can watch another clip from the roundtable on the News and Record's weekly entertainment series Unwind by clicking here)

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