Zach Galifianakis rides The Campaign trail

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TORONTO—On a recent very warm afternoon, Zach Galifianakis rode shotgun on a Zamboni driven by Will Ferrell on a downtown Toronto street. Galifianakis was wearing a kerchief and a knapsack and shyly hopped off the ice-cleaning machine into a boisterous crowd outside the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was well into the actors’ “whistle-stop tour” for their new movie, The Campaign. At that moment, it was entirely unclear what the movie had to do with hockey, but no one seemed to care.

In The Campaign (which opens Friday [August 10] ), Galifianakis—probably best known for playing pervy man-child Alan in the Hangover movies—plays Marty Huggins, a sweet-natured, effeminate North Carolina family man with a wealthy, tyrannical father (Brian Cox), two pugs, and a penchant for terrible sweaters. When a pair of billionaire industrialist brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) decide that Marty is their perfect Republican puppet candidate for congressman, he finds himself running against the Democratic incumbent, Cam Brady (Will Ferrell). Cam is egotistical and witless, with a thing for aerobics instructors and his own hair.

For the past several weeks, Galifianakis and Ferrell have been going city to city, “campaigning” for their movie. In Seattle, appropriately, they’d poured coffee for fans. Possibly that explained the hockey angle in Toronto. Or perhaps they just wanted to ride a Zamboni.

Inside the hall, the kerchief had disappeared but Galifianakis was still wearing the knapsack. He handed out muffins from a basket to some assembled journalists and accepted a miniature replica of the Stanley Cup from Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford. The real Stanley Cup presided over the events from its pedestal. Galifianakis seemed appreciative, if somewhat baffled by things. Maybe it was the heat. Ferrell, who also seemed a little dazed, spoke for a bit and then said, “Uh, Zach wanted to recite a poem.”

“This poem is called ‘Kamloops’,” Galifianakis said, leaning into the microphone. His assembled audience laughed. “Uh, I’m not very good at talking so, uh, thank you very much for hosting us, Mr. Mayor and the, uh, Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s a real excitement to ride a Stromboli here today.” A journalist corrected him. “What is it?” Galifianakis asked. The man repeated the word. “Oh, thank you so much,” Galifianakis said. “It was a joke. Typical journalist!” In the ensuing laughter, “Kamloops”—if, in fact, it existed—was forgotten.

Later, Galifianakis and Ferrell walked the red carpet at The Campaign’s Toronto premiere. Someone asked Galifianakis about his character’s inspiration. “Marty is based on a guy I used to do in high school called the Effeminate Racist,” he said. “And, um, 20 years later he’s in a movie.”

Inevitably, a hockey question arose. It seemed to involve what Galifianakis, as a coach—should he be in that unlikely position—might say to his players. “I would say, ‘Guys, I don’t know why the hell I’m your coach. I know nothing about hockey. This was a terrible mistake. It’s your fault. It’s your fault we’re losing.’ ”

Behind him, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ mascot, Carleton the Bear, waddled by, waving to the sun-struck and starstruck crowd.


Watch the trailer for The Campaign.

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