Caroline McCredie/Getty ImagesWill Ferrell

Caroline McCredie/Getty ImagesWill Ferrell

‘Anchorman 2’ creator Adam McKay talks epic comedy, sharks

Adam McKay has turned epic filmmaker. His new movie is “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” which follows 1970s hero Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) into the early 1980s at the dawn of 24-hour cable news.

“It is big,” he says of the sequel to the 2004 hit. “You can picture Burt Lancaster playing the lead. It’s by far the longest movie we’ve ever done. There are songs and fights, and you go to all these different cities. It’s just got this scope to it.”

Part of the movie’s epic appeal is its selection of cameos. Not to give any of them away, but McKay says he got everyone on his wish list, except two.

“There were two crazy ones we went for — Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama — and for about five minutes they looked like possibilities,” McKay says.

A veteran writer and director from “Saturday Night Live” and co-creator of the hugely popular Funny or Die website, McKay co-writes all of his movies — including “Talledega Nights,” “Step Brothers” and “The Other Guys” — with Ferrell.

Their method of creating comedy involves tossing ideas back and forth and improvisation. He cites “Anchorman 2’s” bizarre romantic subplot with weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and his new love, Chani (Kristen Wiig), as an example of the method in action.

“I like those scenes a lot because they’re different from the entire movie,” McKay says. “All of a sudden you’re in like second-and-a-half-gear. You’re not even in third gear. We ended up leaving some lines in that didn’t even get laughs from the crowd.”

In making his comedies, McKay says the point at which he feels most out of his element — “How did I get let into this room?” — is when he knows he’s in the right place: “That’s good. That is the way it should feel. When you do comedy, you’re purposely doing stuff that’s not legit.”

The concept extends to the movie’s strange opening shot: a tuxedo-clad Burgundy in the ocean, being attacked by a shark.

“This was a topic of great discussion,” he says. Though the film tested well before an audience without the scene, he and Ferrell could not stop laughing about the shark.

“It’s because you haven’t seen this character in nine years, and what’s your first view?”

That’s the key to McKay and Ferrell’s comedies. They never try to make the audience laugh, only themselves.

“You know if you’re doing that, you’re at least in the ballpark,” McKay says.

IF YOU GO

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Starring Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Meagan Good

Written by Adam McKay, Will Ferrell

Directed by Adam McKay

Rated R

Running time 1 hour, 59 minutesAdam McKayAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesartsMoviesWill Ferrell

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

After the pandemic hit, Twin Peaks Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic, a situation lauded by open space advocates. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New proposal to partially reopen Twin Peaks to vehicles pleases no one

Neighbors say closure brought crime into residential streets, while advocates seek more open space

Protesters rally at the site of a proposed affordable housing project at 2550 Irving St. in the Sunset District on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)
Sunset District affordable housing discussion flooded with ‘scare tactics and hysteria’

Project would provide 100 units, some of which would be designated for formerly homeless families

Members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff wore masks at a swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter. One attendee later tested positive. 
Courtesy SFSD
Sheriff sees increase in COVID-19 cases as 3 captains test positive

Command staff among 10 infected members in past week

Rainy weather is expected in the coming week. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Rainstorms, potential atmospheric river expected to drench Bay Area in coming week

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation Multiple rainstorms, cold temperatures some… Continue reading

U.S. Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s powerful reading was among the highlights of Inauguration Day. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Inauguration shines light in this never-ending shade

Here’s to renewal and resolve in 2021 and beyond

Most Read