Adam McKay Opens Up on His Personal and Professional Split From Will Ferrell
"It's the old thing of keep your side of the street clean. I should have just done everything by the book."
Published Nov 30, 2021In 2019, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell ended a 13-year creative partnership that produced comedies including Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers and more. In a statement at the time, the pair said, "the two of us will always work together creatively and always be friends," but the former has revealed that isn't quite the case today.
Speaking with Vanity Fair ahead of Don't Look Up landing on Netflix in December, McKay shared that the last time he spoke to Ferrell was "a curt phone conversation" agreeing to break up their Gary Sanchez Productions:
"I said, 'Well, I mean, we're splitting up the company,'" recounts McKay. "And he basically was like, 'Yeah, we are,' and basically was like, 'Have a good life.' And I'm like, 'Fuck, Ferrell's never going to talk to me again.' So it ended not well."
As the Vanity Fair profile explains, the end of the pair's business partnership was then followed by the break in their friendship. McKay and Ferrell had been developing an HBO series about the "Showtime"-era Los Angeles Lakers basketball teams, which came under McKay's Hyperobject Industries production banner upon the dissolution of Gary Sanchez Productions.
Ferrell, a noted Lakers fan, had been angling to play legendary Lakers owner Jerry Buss in the series, but was never McKay's first choice for the role. The director told Vanity Fair, "The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it's hyperrealistic. And Ferrell just doesn't look like Jerry Buss, and he's not that vibe of a Jerry Buss. And there were some people involved who were like, 'We love Ferrell, he's a genius, but we can't see him doing it.' It was a bit of a hard discussion."
McKay's choice for the role of Buss was John C. Reilly — who he ended up casting without telling Ferrell. "I should have called him and I didn't," McKay told Vanity Fair. "And Reilly did, of course, because Reilly, he's a stand-up guy."
"I fucked up on how I handled that," McKay told the publication, adding that he's attempted contact with Ferrell to zero response. "It's the old thing of keep your side of the street clean. I should have just done everything by the book.
"In my head, I was like, 'We'll let all this blow over. Six months to a year, we'll sit down, we'll laugh about it and go, It's all business junk, who gives a shit? We worked together for 25 years. Are we really going to let this go away?'"
McKay added that Ferrell "took it as a way deeper hurt than I ever imagined and I tried to reach out to him, and I reminded him of some slights that were thrown my way that were never apologized for."
You can read McKay's complete interview with Vanity Fair here. Don't Look Up arrives on Netflix December 24.
McKay is also at work on a Parasite series for HBO.