I got my chance to chat with Will at the tail end of a very long press day. I had missed him on-set, and even this conversation got cut short. It’s a shame, and I hope at some point in the near future, I can find some time to chat with Will for real. In the meantime, here’s a very quick but engaging conversation with the star of this Friday’s new release, “Land Of The Lost.”
WILL FERRELL: Hello, Drew.
MOTION/CAPTURED: Hey Will, how are you?
Good. How are you?
Excellent. It has been a while.
I’m sorry I missed you when I came to the set, but I think that day everybody was busy with the effects and some of the big stuff.
I think that somehow turned into a crazy day or something, yeah.
But, I saw it last night and I gotta say it’s not at all what I expected and it actually exceeded it in a lot of ways.
Well, that’s good. Yeah.
I thought you guys made a very straight “Land of the Lost” adaptation that fans of that show could be happy with, and then it’s like you made the Mad magazine parody at the same time.
[more after the jump]
Yeah, I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. That’s sort of the feedback we’re getting, that’s it’s not something you are expecting, and I feel that it’s definitely not a conventional movie — all for the right reasons. Obviously you have the action and the effects you think you expect, but at the same time we’re kind of commenting on the whole thing right in front of your eyes, which was always our intention.
Well, it’s funny, because this is a really hard genre to nail. The sort of effects driven comedy. I mean, the short list is probably “Ghostbusters” and not much else.
It seems like a hard thing for people to pull off totally, but I love the fact you guys take the situation seriously enough that when you comment on it, it’s like what someone would really say there as opposed to the summer movie way people blow things off sometimes.
[Laughs] Well I love, like… and Danny kept bringing this up as we would rehearse scenes… I just feel like how we would comment on things, and I love, like, how Marshall and Holly are not phased by anything that’s going on. And he would just say, “Hey, you guys aren’t gonna freak out about that? What’s going on?”
The guy sitting next to me last night, another critic, when he does that in the scene where you guys are walking into one of the Sleestak areas and goes, ‘What? Did you see this in your lab?” The guy barked, he laughed so hard at that one.
We had another moment in there when I take Anna’s belt buckle to reflect the light to open up the chamber, but I think we lost the line. Now we just get into the pylon as quickly as we can, but before she used to say, “Marshall, how did you figure that out?” And Danny says, “Try every video game ever made.” [Laughs.] So, that was a favorite line too, but we were trying to speed things up at that point, too. I think it takes the curse off of stuff when we can make those comments.
And I know you were one of the biggest supporters of “The Foot Fist Way” in terms of getting it in front of people and the word of mouth. So this was the first time for you and Danny to get on film together. Were you excited about getting together with him on film and just seeing what that energy would be like?
Oh, yeah. I was excited about it, but I just knew. I was almost relaxed, too, because I knew from watching his work and hanging out with him that we’d totally click. And sure enough, it was kind of like — it was almost like it was our fourth movie together, where we were just having a great time and pitching ideas back and forth, and so it was exactly how I hoped it would be.
It would seem like that would be important in a film like this. Even though it’s a big effects and a big summer movie, it’s really kind of intimate. It’s really just you, Anna, Danny and Jorma for the majority of the picture.
Yeah, having to set up that dynamic was crucial and that actually that you’re speaking too was really nice. I realize I have done a lot of larger ensemble movies over the years with a lot of different characters which I love.
Well, it’s one of the things that’s attractive with an “Anchorman,” it’s a bench that’s nine deep that you can go to throughout the movie.
Totally, and yet to just have the four of us or the three of us when it wasn’t with Jorma was kind of refreshing too. It was just nice to have two other faces to look at. And that kind of intimacy that Brad sort of fostered too, allowed us to feel like we really were on this adventure.
I like that you guys didn’t do the family because it would have changed what humor you could have gone for dramatically. You could have never done, like, the motel sequence if it was a family.
No, no, there is no way that would have happened. People would have signed off on that with a budget on the lower-end of the scale. And that’s exactly why we made that choice, because we thought it would give us more comedic possibilities.
I gotta ask you about the origins about a couple of crazy things, because there are a couple of things when I thought, “Oh, this is not what I’d see in a ‘Land of the Lost’ movie, that would never be it.” One was when you were crossing the volcanic glass where the eggs are going to hatch, and the guy I was sitting next to me said, “You’re actually seeing this. This is actually happening right now.” Because it’s such a crazy scene.
It’s funny, in the course of going through a preview process and having to change certain things out and a lot of times you are fighting for jokes and many times you win some and you lose some… and in the last preview, I just sat in the last row with Adam McKay and he just leaned over and said, “Keep in mind, this is still a weird-ass movie.” We were just laughing, like, where are you going to see some of this stuff in the big broad PG-13 comedies?
Like the use of “A Chorus Line” specifically. Whose idea was that?
That was just Chris and Dennis the writers. That was always in the script from day one. It was just brilliant that that would get revealed like a plot point.
Was the Cher vocoder joke also in the script from day one or was that a choice?
No, that was another… that might have been a rewrite a little later, but that was in the script at least by the first day of shooting.
There were some mighty funny music cues. You have a lot of scenes in this movie with Grumpy. When you have a character that’s not on set, especially if you are used to being improv or playing around, how does that change your process? Or does it? I heard the fist bump was something you played with on set.
Yeah, I thought, “God, no one really focuses on the fact that T-Rex’s have these short little arms.”
Best use of the word “vestigial” ever in a movie by the way.
Yeah. [Laughs] “This is ether going to work or be totally hacky, and even if it’s hacky, it still might work. What if I try to fist bump him?’ And Brad’s like, “Do it! Do it!” And, so, but it is a little weird, a little bizarre. You just feel slightly disconnected when you are having those moments.
And Jorma is sort of handcuffed a bit as a performer because he’s working in the different language which is crazy and it’s such a physical performance. That’s… again, is there a different way you play with him than guys you can just bounce dialogue off of?
Yeah, most definitely. That’s why, when we were hanging out eating the crab meat, we just sat out there and improvised that whole thing to play off Chaka and him going, “Yeah, yeah.” He almost had the hardest task in a way. You have to improvise in a foreign language while you are stoned. A made up language, no less. It was just making us laugh. But we were all just sort of connecting. That was actually one of the more exciting days of filming, because we were losing the light and then this whole great thing happened. It was a bit cliche, but it was so cool we were able to do that.
Obviously, I have a huge love for Anchorman and where that was in your career. So… rumors you have talked about it? How serious?
I keep trying to stoke the flames. The next phase is to try and talk to everyone and see if we can kind of figure out a time of when we would shoot the movie. That’s the next stage. To get a tentative commitment from everyone that if we wrote a script, would everyone be in and all that.
But do you have an idea you like now?
No, we still don’t even have an idea.
Well, I hope it happens.
I’ll have two more interviews for you tomorrow, with Danny McBride and Jorma Taccone. But first, I’ve got to write up a li’l something I saw today at E3…
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