While promoting Don’t Look Up back in November, Adam McKay revealed that his personal and business relationship with Will Ferrell essentially ended over a casting decision for Winning Time, McKay’s upcoming Lakers series for HBO. At the time, McKay admitted that he “f*cked up” when casting John C. Reilly as former Lakers owners Jerry Buss. As a longtime Lakers fan, Ferrell wanted the part, but instead of hearing the news from McKay, he heard it from Reilly, which was the nail in the coffin for Ferrell’s friendship with McKay.
However, there’s a bit more to the story. In a new feature on Winning Time, the process of casting Reilly is broken down, and it appears there was an additional step to the story. Namely that Michael Shannon was originally cast as Buss, but he walked from the role over concerns with the fourth-wall-breaking style of the production. While this presented another opportunity for Ferrell to get the coveted role — he was reportedly fine with the Shannon casting — McKay decided not to tap his longtime friend and went with Reilly, who only had 48 hours to decide if he’d jump into the role of Buss.
But before Reilly signed on — before he grew out his hair and his mustache and got into a physical shape that allowed him to squeeze into Buss’ tight-fitting pants — he reached out to Ferrell. Recalls McKay: “It was at this weird moment where Will and I weren’t exactly hugging each other, even though there was nothing that terrible, and he called Will and said, ‘Hey, McKay just came to me with this.’ And Will was very hurt that I wasn’t the one to call him, and I should have. I fucked up.” Reilly is more diplomatic, offering only: “Will is one of my best friends, Adam is one of my best friends, I was delighted to get the job and that’s all I really have to say.”
Ferrell and McKay have reportedly not spoken since the casting incident.
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty premieres March 6 on HBO.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)