Will Ferrell reprises his role as the wildly bombastic and buffoonish television anchorman, Ron Burgundy, in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. The original film, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, released in 2004, grossed $US90 million worldwide and the highly anticipated sequel, which sees the return of the beloved ‘news team,’ is expected to eclipse its predecessor.
Ferrell, the 46-year-old Saturday Night Live alum, comedian and impressionist with a penchant for getting naked at every cinematic opportunity, is at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, fully clothed in a stylish black suit.
In person, he’s a lot more mild-mannered than you might expect. His life is relatively ‘un-Hollywood’ and he lives with his Swedish-born wife of 13 years, Viveca Paulin, with whom he is raising their three sons: Magnus, 9, Mattias, 6, and Axel, 3, between homes in New York City and California.
Q. The last time we saw Ron Burgundy was in the 70s. What were the challenges in thrusting him and his esteemed news team into the next decade?
That they haven’t evolved in any way and that’s where the comedy comes forward. It was an interesting time because in the year of 1979 to 1980 CNN and ESPN started and it changed the landscape of news so it was fun to see how these guys adapted, or rather, didn’t.
Q. Many comedies try to push the envelope in terms of raunchiness, yet Ron’s lame humour remains consistent.
Yes, the voice of the character is silliness as opposed to being super provocative. Ron and his team are inherently sweet characters so it doesn’t lend itself to go too raunchy.
Q. With the upcoming Olympics around the corner, it’s a shame that the US hasn’t realised your potential on the ice, particularly having witnessed your athleticism in Blades of Glory and Anchorman 2.
It is a crime. I think more specifically the United States Men’s Figure Skating team won’t give me a try out because they don’t want me to show up our current team. That’s all I can really put a finger on because there’s no question I have the ability of an Olympic calibre skater.
Q. Who were your comic influences?
Marcel Marceau, Peter Sellers, Bugs Bunny, and of course, The Kardashians.
Q. The Kardashians?
Yes. Why are you groaning? How dare you disparage them! They work SO hard.
Q. You were born in California. How do you look back on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s term as governor?
I think he was the finest governor we ever had who was a former robot assassin.
Q. You’ve done a lot of nudity in your films. What’s the most uncomfortable aspect?
The most awkward is obviously the streaking, the running naked. When you do scenes like that you’ll read it in the script and think, ‘Oh, that’ll be a funny joke and then you forget, no, I have to actually do it.’
Q. Are your body-revealing scenes any comment on Hollywood’s obsession with bodies?
Probably, indirectly. It definitely comes a little bit from ‘What’s the big deal?’ And also there is a small cumulative factor which is just a victory for people with normal-looking bodies.
Q. How would you describe your parenting style?
I’m very, very severe when it comes to discipline. No, actually, my wife and I are a team with how we raise them. We have fun with them but at the same time, we don’t want them to become Hollywood brats.
Q. Are you funny at home?
I think my wife would kill me if I tried to be funny all the time. I’m always having people coming up to me disappointed. They’re like, ‘Oh. You’re so normal; I expected you to be crazy.’ It’s hard to convince people that the characters are an extension of myself and not the way I actually act.
Q. What do your kids think?
Oh, they’re pretty tough critics. I’ll try to be funny with them and they’ll just shake their heads and go, ‘Not funny.’
Q. What makes you laugh?
The TV show, Hoarders. My family and I watch it and we’re like, ‘Oh my God…’ but in reality we’re all just two steps away from that. I know it’s a legitimate sickness but can it really be that hard to throw stuff out?
Q. Can you talk a bit about Will Ferrell the entrepreneur? You’re behind the Funny or Die site and now have more than 100 employees?
We knew we were going to put up videos, start the site and then a venture capital group financed it, but like anything on the internet, you never know if you’re going to shut it down the next day or not. But it blew up in a way we’d never imagined.
Q. With the media having to adapt so quickly how would Ron Burgundy deal with a Twitter feed? Could he express his narcissism in the world of social media?
I don’t think he could. I think he’d be a disaster with Twitter, always saying very inappropriate things and to actually fit it in a concise way would be impossible. I think Ron would be horribly confused by new media.
Will Ferrell’s greatest hits
Ron Burgundy’s take on The Ashes
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is released in Australian cinemas on December 19.
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