Back in 2007, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell had the biggest viral hit of the century with their sketch, “The Landlord,” which at the time catapulted their newly launched website Funny or Die to instant success. As some people may be aware, the titular landlord “Pearl” was played by McKay’s then 20-month-old actual daughter.
McKay recently gave an interview with the website Studio 360 in advance of the release of his upcoming film The Big Short, where he gave some insight as to how the sketch came to be. Apparently at the time, Pearl (her actual name) was going through a phase where she would repeat back anything which was said to her, a common toddler trait. He says that he and his wife would entertain themselves by having Pearl recite anything from Sartre to Public Enemy lyrics, which gave him inspiration.
The end result was shot in Ferrell’s guest house in about 20 minutes total, and the rest is history.
“My wife was so mad at me. She told me beforehand, ‘Don’t you dare turn our daughter into a child star.’ And I said, ‘Honey, it’s [not] going to get like a million hits, no one cares.’” McKay was, of course, totally wrong. The video crashed their servers and made Funny or Die “at one point, the fastest growing website ever in the history of the internet,” according to McKay.
Due to her instant success, Pearl was offered a part in a Jackie Chan movie, invited to be a guest on Ellen, and even offered her own spread in People — all of which McKay and his wife turned down.
“It actually worked out perfectly because [Pearl] never really did anything else, so it’s like a fun little thing that people know she’s ‘The Landlord.’” Pearl is now 10 years old and, according to her father, unscathed by her childhood fame. Though McKay concedes, “she does own a Corvette and date an Armenian guy who’s twice her age.”
Sounds about par for the course for someone who got their start in showbiz at such a young age. Makes her seem pretty normal when compared to the Olsen twins, anyway.
You can listen to McKay’s whole interview here.