Adam McKay opened up in detail for the first time about his professional split from Will Ferrell. The two collaborators worked together on some of the most definitive comedy films of the 2000s, including “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” and went on to form the production company Gloria Sanchez Productions. McKay and Ferrell announced in April 2019 they were ending their partnership, saying in a statement at the time, “The two of us will always work together creatively and always be friends. And we recognize we are lucky as hell to end this venture as such.” As McKay revealed in a new Vanity Fair profile, that promise turned out not to be true.
Ferrell told The Hollywood Reporter in October that “bandwidth” was the reason for his split from McKay, pointing to McKay’s increased producing responsibilities. The actor said, “Adam was like, ‘I want to do this, and this, and this,’ he wanted growth and a sphere of influence, and I was just like, ‘I don’t know, that sounds like a lot that I have to keep track of.’ To me, the potential of seeing a billboard, and being like: ‘Oh, we’re producing that?’ I don’t know. At the end of the day, we just have different amounts of bandwidth.”
While McKay’s interest in producing more was the start of the end, the director told Vanity Fair that the final blow was his decision to cast John C. Reilly over Ferrell in his upcoming HBO drama series about the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers. Lakers fan Ferrell was originally cast in the role of team owner Jerry Buss, but he was not McKay’s first choice.
“The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it’s hyperrealistic,” McKay said. “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 wanted to cast John C. Reilly, whom he worked with on “Step Brothers” and who is also Ferrell’s good friend. McKay ended up making the casting change and hiring Reilly behind Ferrell’s back.
“I should have called him and I didn’t,” McKay said. “And Reilly did, of course, because Reilly, he’s a stand-up guy…I fucked up on how I handled that. It’s the old thing of keep your side of the street clean. I should have just done everything by the book.”
McKay said the last time he spoke to Ferrell was the phone conversation they had talking about breaking up. “I said, ‘Well, I mean, we’re splitting up the company,'” the director said. “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.”
Vanity Fair notes that “McKay says he’s written emails to Ferrell, attempting a rapprochement, but has never heard back.” The director concluded, “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?’ [But 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.”
Head over to Vanity Fair’s website to read McKay’s profile in its entirety.