Known for his outlandish comedic roles, Will Ferrell is back this summer in a new movie about cops and corporations. Ferrell took some time while shooting The Other Guys to talk with Buzzine about his experience teaming up with Mark Wahlberg, forensic accounting, and his attempt as a stuntman.
Molly Sullivan: How did this movie idea and script come about?
Will Ferrell: Adam [McKay] and I first started talking about the concept of Mark [Wahlberg] and I doing this kind of movie. Then Adam came up with the exact idea of this dynamic between the two of us — the other guys on the police force that don’t get any credit or don’t get to do anything fun and then we’re thrust into the spotlight. Adam and Chris Henchy wrote the script, and I doubled-back, and Adam and I worked together on our own on the script a little bit, but this one wasn’t as intensely involved as our other projects.
MS: How was filming for this movie?
WF: It’s been great. Kind of a different kind of movie than I’m used to, having this whole action element — a lot of secondhand stuff and stunt stuff. They’re working while we’re doing scenes, so that’s a lot of stuff that they put all together. In terms of the comedy and cast we’ve been able to get, it’s great.
MS: What made you pick Mark Wahlberg for a comedic role?
WF: Adam and I had always talked about how some of the things Mark has done have actually been really funny: I Heart Huckabees… [We talked about] doing a buddy comedy with our spin on it and have it be with Mark as a kind of brooding tough guy and I’m more of an office cop, and we’re paired together as a new cop team.
MS: You play a forensic accountant. Can you tell us about that role and the yin and yang with Mark’s character?
WF: There are actually accountants who, through looking up records and stuff, are detectives, in a way. There are forensic accountants working on a lot of the Bernie Madoff scandal and trying to trace money. They basically go through stacks of paperwork and receipts and figure out where lost money is and that sort of thing, so that’s kind of the discipline. I’m kind of that — someone who’s never had a gun, never used it. I’ve never really been out of the office. My passion is paperwork. I really feel like an equal part of the justice system is organization of files and gathering information. That is just as important as someone arresting a drug dealer or playing cops and robbers. Mark is more the guy who has never gotten the chance to go out and be a hero on the street.
MS: How was working with Eva Mendes?
WF: What was great is she’s never done a movie like this, so she just threw herself into it, if we asked her to improvise bits.
MS: You have Paris Hilton in the movie?
WF: Yes, Paris Hilton made it. Very nice, made a very funny cameo. She was game for whatever we wanted to do. She plays herself.
MS: Did you make any changes to the script as you were filming when all the Wall Street stuff was occurring?
WF: We tried to as much as we could before shooting, and we set the story. So yeah, we have Anne Heche, who’s like this CEO of this massive conglomerate. We’re trying to comment on corporation. We get as specific as we can without having to be too tied to anything so the movie is still relevant a year from now.
MS: Did you consult with anyone in the financial industry for the script?
WF: Adam and Chris either had email exchanges or might have had a conversation with Paul Krugman of The New York Times. He was actually explaining a few things, so there was some real research done, believe it or not.
MS: Would you make a good cop?
WF: No, not really. I actually went to one of the New York Department shooting ranges and got the standard shooting weapon, and by the time I shot eight rounds, my arms were shaking — couldn’t take it. It was like, “How do you guys do this?” I’m trying to be accurate, but let alone you have to keep your eyes open. There’s a lot of work that they do that you have no idea how hard it is. But if I could just hang out in the office and drink coffee, I’d be a very good cop. Any sort of actual work, no.
MS: Did you end up doing stunts for the film?
WF: I didn’t have to do a lot. I just watch all the stunts and go, “What’re you doing? Watch out!” So it’s great for me. I just get shot at a little bit, but for that I just run away.