In any election year, there are moments when it’s difficult to tell the difference between real political coverage and, say, The Onion or The Daily Show. That’s precisely why director Jay Roach felt Will Ferrell’s and Zach Galifianakis’ candidates in The Campaign had to be unmistakably over the top — to make sure you can tell them apart from the comedians asking for our votes this November. But when VH1 interviewed the stars of the movie, which opens today, about their own political experiences, it turns out this movie wasn’t all about acting for them. Ferrell, for example, might be living out his failed attempt at local government.
“I was part of a committee in my neighborhood to close down all our streets and to make our own kind of encampment and take down all our doors and live as a commune,” he told us, quite seriously. “That was kind of like a local government thing.”
But alas, his campaign didn’t work. “No, no one wanted to listen to me.”
By contrast, Dylan McDermott, who plays Galifianakis’ character’s assassin-like campaign manager, once made use of his celebrity status to make a guest appearance at the Democratic National Convention, when Al Gore was nominated as the presidential candidate in 2000. That may have turned out to be the pinnacle of his political career, however.
There are a lot of reasons to laugh at Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis‘ movie The Campaign, but only one real reason to jump up and down in your seat: Uggie the dog makes a cameo! For real, we were sure that we’d seen the last of The Artist’s scene-stealer during awards season, when his trainers announced the 10-year-old canine was retiring from showbiz. But it turns out, Campaign director Jay Roach booked him just under the wire.
“Uggie retired the day after we shot,” Roach told VH1. “I don’t know what that says about our set. Maybe it’s a source of so much stress that Uggie couldn’t take … or maybe it was what had to happen to Uggie [in the movie].”
We won’t spoil what happens to the beloved terrier in the movie, but once you see it, you’ll know why Roach told us, apologetically, “Neither Uggie nor any infants were harmed on our set. It was all visual effects.” Maybe it’s just that Uggie didn’t quite get Ferrell and Galifianakis’ particular brand of teasing comedy.
“Hate to break it to you, friend, but your balloon is getting ready to pop, and that balloon is full of your own butt toots,” Zach Galifianakis’ Marty Huggins tells Will Ferrell’s Rep. Cam Brady before their first debate in The Campaign.
“You’re such a little turd that when you sit in sand, cats try to bury you,” Ferrell shoots back.
After our my personal experience with the Galifianakis-Ferrell show, I realized it’s very difficult to tell which of those insults came from a written script and which must have sprung straight from their mouths. And I wondered how, if at all, a director could control the hilarious fighting spirit of these two stars.
The above is a mere excerpt of my interview with Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell over the weekend. To promote their antagonistic chemistry in The Campaign, the two have been making the rounds with all sorts of awkward appearances and more awkward interviews, and I found myself at the receiving end of one of these. And I learned that while it’s easy enough to laugh at them when you’re on this side of the computer or movie screen, when you’re 6 feet away, what comes out is more nervous tittering than raucous guffaws. Well, I hope you guys can laugh at my expense, anyway.
Let me assure you, I had all sorts of actually interesting questions for them about Anchorman 2 and working with director Jay Roach and making fun of Mitt Romney. But from the moment Zach interrupted my simple warm-up question about why they work well together by pouring an entire tin of “sugar-free black currants” into his mouth, I was thrown off my game.
“They were like miniature sanitary cakes for a tiny toilet,” Ferrell declared of the candies after spitting one out. And yet Galifianakis kept them in his mouth for the next four minutes.
Finally, an answer of sorts came: “We both love soft rock, yacht rock,” Ferrell said.
While preparing to for today’s press junket for The Campaign, I rewatched the above Will Ferrell episode of Zach Galifianakis‘ “Between Two Ferns.” It’s a surreal, supremely awkward, hilarious exchange. And it will give you a very good idea of how my afternoon went down (minus the Jon Hamm cameo, unfortunately). Not that I’m complaining, mind you.
Before it was my turn to interview Galifianakis and Ferrell, who play absurdly inept rivals in a North Carolina congressional campaign, I and the rest of the reporters were treated to the sight of an interview that happened earlier in the day: After one interviewer asked about a scene in which Dylan McDermott (as an assassin-like campaign manager) slaps Galifianakis, Ferrell stood up and demonstrated … by slapping the reporter. We even got the scene in slo-mo. (I’m waiting for this clip to go viral, though it hasn’t surfaced yet. So, yeah, I was bracing myself for my own exchange with these two.
What went down? Well, no one was physically assaulted. But let’s just say I didn’t get to a lot of my hard-hitting questions. Was it because they hate talking to reporters? Not at all. They just get a kick out of keeping that Will-and-Zach show going for as long as possible. Stay tuned for the full report — and video — soon!
[Photo: Warner Bros.]
As The Avengers kick off summer movie season today with a bang or two (or 100), it’s easy enough to forget that blockbusters aren’t just about men in tights, showing off their massive CGI effects. On some of those sweltering days, you don’t want to step into a theater to worry about the fate of the world; you want to laugh your ass off. We’ve already looked at the ladies doing their part to make the season hilarious, and now it’s time for us to decide which of these sexy funnymen will be the sexiest and funniest at the multiplex from May through August.
This year, we have some double threats — the guys who will make us laugh and fan ourselves: Tom Cruise radiates sex as rock god Stacee Jaxx in Rock of Ages, Matthew McConaughey sells it as strip-club owner Dallas in Magic Mike, and Mark Wahlberg hides it beneath a manchild exterior as John, the guy who tries to let go of his talking teddy bear in Ted. There are also the funny guys we crush on, no matter how goofy their characters, like Russell Brand as the narrator of Rock of Ages and Andy Samberg as Adam Sandler’s unfortunate son in That’s My Boy. There are the comedians we’d kind of like to take home to mom — Ed Norton and Jason Schwartzman in Moonrise Kingdom, Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill in Neighborhood Watch, Steve Carell in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Chris Rock in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell in The Campaign. And then there are the bad boys we’d keep secret about, Vince Vaughn in Neighborhood Watch and Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator.