It’s a surreal day on Will Ferrell’s Campaign

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TORONTO—Will Ferrell put the Georgia Straight's microphone in his mouth. But that was at the end of the day. Earlier, he manoeuvred a Zamboni down a street in downtown Toronto with his friend Zach Galifianakis along for the ride. Despite the lack of ice to clean, he drove with aplomb and did not run over the fans, reporters, television crews, policemen, bemused young Mounties, and one furry mascot all gathered in some chaos in the increasingly moist heat outside the Hockey Hall of Fame. Wearing an L.A. Kings jersey with his name across the back, he parked his vehicle, yelled “Go Kings! Go Kings!” and dropped bravely down to earth.

Of course, North Carolina Democratic congressman Cam Brady's fans were there too. They chanted “Vote for Cam! Vote for Cam!” and wore T-shirts and sandwich boards emblazoned with Cam's face. Or was it Ferrell's face? It was. But Ferrell wasn't there as Cam, the arrogant-boob politician he plays—arrogant boob being one of his specialties—in his new movie The Campaign (which opens Friday, [August 10]). Ferrell was there as Ferrell, beloved actor and unrepentant gloater over his team's victory in a defeated town. This seemed to displease exactly no one.

The only possible dissension came from the “supporters” of Cam's Republican opponent, Marty Huggins. They also wore T-shirts and sandwich boards, but those items featured Marty's visage. Well, make that Galifianakis's visage (minus the beard). Or, rather, Galifianakis as Marty. Right.

Ferrell walked into a large room inside the Hockey Hall of Fame that contained Toronto's somewhat round mayor, Rob Ford, yet more reporters and television cameras, the Stanley Cup, and a baby. Because there is an unfortunate incident in The Campaign involving Ferrell's congressman Cam and an infant being held up to kiss, the journalists around the baby, which was in its father's arms, hoped Ferrell might zero in on the child—although perhaps not exactly in the manner of the movie. Sadly, he seemed not to notice it. “Would anyone like a cup of coffee?” Ferrell asked instead, placing the mug he was carrying beside some interested attendees.

“Welcome to Toronto,” Ford said. Both actors were wearing Ford campaign pins. When the mayor presented them with Ford bumper stickers and tiny Stanley Cups, they seemed politely bemused. “You've got more stuff than we do,” Galifianakis said, gamely holding his cup aloft.

Ferrell stepped up to a microphone. “On behalf of myself and Zach Galafinacious, I just want to thank everyone here at the Hockey Hall of Fame,” he said. “And Mr. Mayor, thank you for your hospitality. It's exciting to be here representing Los Angeles in the hall of the Stanley Cup.” His audience laughed and booed happily. “Uh, Los Angeles is the best team in the NHL,” he continued, admirably deadpan. “But you know what? Toronto's a great city too. One day you will hoist that magnificent cup.” Apropos of seemingly nothing, he added: “And this is a quick shout-out to Yellowknife, okay?”

Soon it was time to depart. “We want to quickly thank the Hockey Hall of Fame for allowing us to take some of our favourite pieces of memorabilia,” Ferrell said. “That's really, really nice of you guys. Very trusting.”

Later that afternoon, several degrees Celsius and many blocks higher, cheers could be heard in the distance. The Zamboni showed up, actorless and on the back of a truck. A marching band came around a corner, but there were no movie stars in its wake. At the theatre where The Campaign was to have its Toronto premiere, several hockey players and their wives walked down what looked to be the world's narrowest red carpet. “That's David Clarkson,” a Hockey News reporter told anyone who didn't seem to know.

A dark sedan pulled up and Ferrell and Galifianakis stepped out. Campaign posters were proffered and the actors dutifully signed them. They posed for pictures. Accompanied by frazzled-seeming handlers, they began moving along the slim red carpet. “Are we good for sound?” Ferrell asked, hijacking three TV microphones and waving them across each other. “You're going to ruin our interview,” one journalist said. “No, I'm not,” Ferrell said. “I'm trying to get the best sound.” “I think we're getting a bit of Ron Burgundy here,” the woman said. “Possible,” Ferrell said. “Possible,” echoed the woman, sounding possibly irritated.

“A lot of people remember your George W. Bush,” someone said. “Uh, Janet Reno,” Ferrell said. “Probably the most popular was Janet Reno.” So which political figure most informed The Campaign's Cam Brady (surely a happy mashup of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy's egomaniacal nitwit and Ken-doll-coiffed fallen Democratic senator John Edwards)? “I mostly studied, oh, uh, Geraldine Ferraro to get my character down, yeah,” Ferrell said. Noticing his questioners' sweat-damp faces, he added: “Don't worry. The space heaters are coming out.”

Did Ferrell have advice for Canada's commander? “Your prime minister, Stephen Harper?” he clarified. “Who Will did not know who it was until I told him,” Galifianakis interjected. “Well, I would just say, you know, make sure he does proper personal hygiene,” Ferrell said.

The Straight recalled an episode of Galifianakis's Funny or Die show Between Two Ferns in which he and Ferrell feed each other cherries. Had they engaged in any such feedings during this 11-city “Whistle Stop” tour? “Um, most nights Will will call me up to his room and say, ‘Hey, I just ordered room service. Do you wanna come up and feed it to me?' ” Galifianakis said. “And last night was a banana and two kiwis.” Peering intently at the Straight through wire-framed sunglasses, Ferrell added: “And a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.”

So, the experience was erotic? “It was accidentally erotic,” Galifianakis said. “We're completely platonic now.”

“We're done with our relationship,” Ferrell said.

A moment later, Ferrell accidentally knocked the Straight's microphone to the carpet. He picked it up and pretended to examine it, then held it inside his mouth, making extravagant gnawing motions. It was as good a way as any of signalling an end to questions for the day.


Watch the trailer for The Campaign.

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