Will Ferrell and director writer/director/producer Adam McKay have done three films together, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers. Their fourth comedy The Other Guys opens this week.
NYPD Detectives Christopher Danson and P.K. Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) are the baddest and most beloved cops in Manhattan. Two desks over and one back, sit Detectives Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg); they’re not heroes – they’re ‘the Other Guys.’
But when they stumble into a seemingly innocuous case no other detective wants, it turns into New York City’s biggest crime – but do Gamble and Hoitz have what it takes to solve it?
In this interview Will Ferrell talks about working with Adam McKay, his co-star Mark Wahlberg and working in New York.
Can you talk a little about your character?
Allen Gamble is a guy who loves – he actually relishes – paperwork. Working on the computer and organization are police work for him. He’s an earnest, sweetheart type – a guy who plays it very close to the vest, a buttoned-down type of guy who shows up right on time for work and stays to the very last minute.
Did you do any research for the character?
I actually got to do a little bit of research, go to a shooting range. I visited a couple of the precincts to see what the mentality of these guys are, and for all of the exciting headlines you read about, there’s so much day-to-day work that goes on unseen. Which is kind of the core belief of my character that it’s just as important, but we don’t really hear about it.
What was it like working with Mark Wahlberg?
Adam McKay and I are such big fans of Mark’s. We always thought he would be great in a comedy, playing a character that maybe is similar in some ways to the role he had in The Departed, but to utilize that intensity he has and play it for laughs.
Sometimes the comedy is conversational, the other times, it’s broad and crazy and out of control. Adam and I always feel like the best comedy is played straight – as real as possible. In fact, this might be the most real movie we’ve done tonally, which makes the situations that Allen and Terry get into so much funnier.
It’s so funny to get to know someone like Mark, who has this reputation as a tough guy. He’s actually a sweetheart and was dying to do comedy like this. He wasn’t thrown by anything.
Is having partners in comedy like being partners as cops?
No [he laughs]. I feel like it’s more important to be cutthroat on a set and not look out for each other. That provides a certain tension. It makes for a horrible work environment, but boy does it pop on screen.
The studios love it because we don’t serve food. There’s no Craft Services, no creature comforts. There’s no insurance.
You’ve worked with Adam McKay on four movies now, what is it about your relationship that works so well?
He’s one of the most creative directors I’ve ever worked with. It’s fun to be on set with actors who have never worked with Adam before, watching their reaction as he creates an environment where everyone feels safe.
Was the choice of driving a Prius, environmentally important or for comic use?
I think the choice of the Prius was that it was a sensible car. One Allan would drive.
What about singing in the movie?
As Adam was working on the script, he told me to text him any random ideas I had.
One of them was, what if Terry and Allen are at an Irish bar and in a scene where information has to be given out, it’s his weekly folk singing night. One of the things Allen likes to do is sing Irish songs.
I sent that to him and Adam wrote back, ‘Going into the script.’
What was it like shooting in New York?
We were so lucky to get to shoot in New York and to get to show off all the different locations in the city, from Wall Street to Rockefeller Center. Almost every part of the city you can think of, we put on film. On top of that, we had a full second unit going the whole time, doing scene work with car crashes and guns-a-blazing.