Adam McKay and Judd Apatow on the pressures of sequels for ‘Anchorman 2’

Sequels are, despite their omnipresence in Hollywood, actually fairly difficult to get right, and within that broad statement, I would say that horror sequels are even harder to get right, while comedy sequels may be the hardest to pull off with any degree of success.

Why is that? What makes it so hard to go back to the well? After all, if you hire the same people, shouldn’t you get the same results? If you hire Adam McKay to direct again and you’ve got Judd Apatow producing, and you’ve got the same whole cast in place, shouldn’t you get the exact same thing?

That’s sort of the challenge. With comedy, I feel like so much of the success of something comes from surprise. A big part of what makes me laugh is when someone has some unexpected way of expressing an idea or reacting to something we all recognize, and one of the reasons I feel like Adam McKay is perfectly built to actually make good comedy sequels is because even when he’s playing with familiar characters, his brain is just plain wired different than most people. The way he approaches anything, any line of dialogue, is grounded in the unexpected.

I feel comfortable chatting about comedy with Judd Apatow by this point, and talking to him with Adam is a great chance to discuss the entire notion of returning to something and how you keep it interesting and what the success of the first film allows them to try this time around. As I told them in the room, this may be the Adam McKay-iest of all the Adam McKay films so far, and I thought our conversation about how they got there was a good one. I never feel the limitations of this interview format as much as I do when I’m just starting to rev up into a conversation just as someone tells me my time is up. Still, I feel like this gives you a glimpse at how the comedy mega-sequel came together.

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” is in theaters now.