‘Anchorman’ Originally Involved Killer Orangutans And Was Too Weird For Paul Thomas Anderson

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a modern comedy classic, and many, including Ron Burgundy himself, would call it Will Ferrell’s best film.

“The one that stands out as the favorite, and it’s a hard choice, is Anchorman,” he told host Bill Simmons on Friday’s episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast. “Because of the journey that it took. And it’s kind of the Cinderella story of the movie no one wanted to make.” Ferrell and Adam McKay (who also directed) started working on the script while they were both employed at SNL, although it’s virtually unrecognizable to the jazz flute-playing, furry tractor-riding, trident-throwing, milk-drinking movie we know and endlessly quote today.

“The first version of Anchorman is basically the movie Alive, where the year is 1976, and we are flying to Philadelphia, and all the newsmen from around the country are flying in to have some big convention,” Ferrell said. “Ron convinces the pilot that he knows how to fly the charter jet, and he immediately crash-lands it in the mountains. And it’s just the story of them surviving and trying to get off the mountainside. They clipped a cargo plane, and the cargo plane crashed as well, close to them, and it was carrying only boxes of orangutans and Chinese throwing stars. So throughout the movie we’re being stalked by orangutans who are killing, one by one, the team off with throwing stars. And Veronica Corningstone keeps saying things like, ‘Guys, I know if we just head down we’ll hit civilization.’ And we keep telling her, ‘Wrong.’ She doesn’t know what we’re talking about.”

It’s an idea so out out there that even Paul Thomas Anderson, who told Ferrell and McKay that he “would shepherd it for you and kind of find out how to make it,” thought it was “a little too weird.” Remember, this is guy who made a movie about the Golden Age of Porn and another involving frogs raining from the sky. But Chinese star-throwing orangutans? That’s over the top.

Listen to the entire podcast here.

(Via Entertainment Weekly)