LOS ANGELES—Will Ferrell isn’t particularly interested in giving straight answers. At a news conference to promote the buddy-cop comedy The Other Guys, he takes every question and riffs on it like the improv actor he is. Asked if it’s important to have cooperation on a movie set, he gives it a spin. “I think it’s more important to be cutthroat on a set and not look after each other,” he says. “That provides a certain tension and it makes for a horrible work environment, but, boy, does it pop on-screen.” Responding to a question about working with costars Eva Mendes, Mark Wahlberg, and the fidgety Michael Keaton, he says: “I remember there was one day when Eva and Mark and I were sitting around a table and we said, ”˜Let’s kill a guy,’ and we phoned Keaton and he said he was down for it.”
Watch the trailer for The Other Guys.
The movie, which opens next Friday (August 6), stars Wahlberg and Ferrell as paper-pushing cops who are ignored by their colleagues, who tend to celebrate the street successes of cops Danson and Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson, respectively). Although Hoitz (Wahlberg) and Gamble (Ferrell) aren’t about to tackle armed robberies, they eventually figure out that there’s a lot more money being stolen by white-collar criminals.
The film was directed by Ferrell’s long-time creative partner, Adam McKay. In a serious moment, Ferrell says that he and McKay decided years ago that Wahlberg would fit into their comedic stylings. Rather than asking him to work with them in one of their movies, they decided to create a concept that would be built around him assuming he wouldn’t say no.
“Adam and I talked for years about working with Mark in a comedy,” he says. “We found him to be not just a good actor but very funny. So we came up with this idea about these guys on a force that no one wants to listen to. Eventually, they have their chance to step forward and prove they can do something.”
Ferrell is also relatively serious when asked about whether or not his oldest child, six-year-old Magnus, has clued in to what his father does for a living. “He’s just starting to figure out what I do,” Ferrell says. “Just this summer he leaned over to me and said, ”˜By the way, Dad, I know what you do. I know you’re in movies, just so you know.’ But this movie is still a little old for him, probably. I think he saw Elf when he was two and he started crying when I had to float around on an iceberg. I said, ”˜You have to keep watching it. This is about Christmas. This is about joy. So shut up.’ ”
Asked whether he was interested in law enforcement at an early age, Ferrell answers as expected. “As a kid, I walked around with a pair of nunchuks, but it wasn’t really law-enforcement-related. I built a jail in my closet and incarcerated my family.”