Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
August 7, 2012
An interview with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis needs no introduction. The stars of “Anchorman” and “The Hangover” are, obviously, hilarious, and they’re even more hilarious together as warring congressional candidates in “The Campaign,” opening Aug. 10.
In a box at Wrigley Field, the 45-year-old Ferrell (whose answer to what he wants to do in Chicago is “I would love to go to Cleveland”) and Galifianakis, 42, described their own hypothetical political agendas, the challenges of working together and answered a question as their “Campaign” characters Cam and Marty—as long as I got into character with them.
In the movie you both compete to come off as more patriotic. Which is more American: mom or apple pie?
Zach Galifianakis: Where’s the mother from?
It’s just a general mom.
Will Ferrell: Was she born in the U.S.?
She immigrated here.
WF: You know, it’s tough to go against a nice slice of apple pie. It’s pretty American.
ZG: I’m going to choose my mom. Will, you’re going to go with apple pie over your mother?
WF: I would say a mother slathered in apple pie.
ZG: That’s it.
What would your family say about that?
ZG: They do it.
WF: Yeah, we do it. Every Thanksgiving, we slather mom in apple pie and sing “God Bless America.”
How did that tradition get started?
WF: We were drinking a lot of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. Which I noticed there’s a Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum bar here at Wrigley.
The movie certainly shows politicians will do and say anything to get people to like them. What’s something real in the political world that you wouldn’t have believed if you hadn’t seen or heard it for yourself?
ZG: Some of the ads are pretty astonishing … in California there’s this really crazy one, and I can’t remember who … is her name Kahn? With the rapper.
WF: The rapper and … she just came out of jail or whatever.
ZG: Yeah, something strange. But also the day-to-day because these guys get followed around, there’s cameras everywhere. I think the public just waits for them to make a mistake. The “Macaca” thing a few years ago was pretty amazing. He got busted; I don’t know if you remember.
WF: The guy in Virginia.
ZG: I want to make sure we get the names right. He got busted for saying a racial slur. I guess that it was—I’d never heard that word before. You’re up on your racial slurs.
WF: Yeah, I got a whole list of ‘em.
What does it take to stay up on that sort of thing?
WF: [Laughs.] I’ve got some pamphlets I can give you.
ZG: Just hang out with any grandfather.
WF: [Laughs.] Anyone over 70.
One of Marty’s priorities is ending daylight savings time. What would your agendas be if you ran for office?
ZG: That would be one. Another one is being able to take a left on red.
Why does that bother you so much?
ZG: Wouldn’t you like to just be able to do it? I mean, it’s dangerous, it makes no sense. But a lot of policies don’t. They’re dangerous and make no sense.
I think just eliminating traffic lights completely.
ZG: Eliminating cars.
WF: I like that. That’s not a bad idea.
ZG: Will wants health care for …
WF: I want free health care. For people over 97.
You guys are so funny separately and together in this movie, which is not always a given when you combine two comedians. How do you think your comedy styles compare?
WF: Zach is a taker. He takes. He takes and he consumes and he just leaves a trail of carnage behind him. And I’m a giver. I’ll give until I can’t give no more. And I think that’s how it worked. And I’m not even criticizing him.
ZG: I wasn’t allowed to act with Will. So when you see me acting with Will, it’s a split-screen thing. Technology. What they did is they got a mannequin and they did a Will Ferrell mask with a mannequin. [It had] a lot of range!
Why weren’t you allowed to act with him?
ZG: Ask Will, I don’t know.
WF: They wouldn’t give me a copy of the schedule. They would never tell me the days Zach was working. I was happy to act with him …
Which did you prefer working with, the real thing or the mannequin?
ZG: Doing the press tour with him, I do miss the mannequin a little bit.
WF: The mannequin is ready to come back at any time.
It seems like you guys would and have done pretty much anything for a laugh. What’s something, if anything, you would not do for one?
ZG: [Laughs.] I don’t know, I feel like I’ve aged rapidly the last couple years.
ZG: I’m like, “I don’t know … if I want to do that.”
Like what? Something you’ve turned down?
ZG: They always want comics these days to take their clothes [off]. Will actually started it all. And bravely did. But when you’re the first to do it, you don’t want to be the second or third to do it or the fifth or sixth. I don’t know; they always want you to take your clothes off. [Laughs.]
WF: I’ve never done it—and this is going to sound crazy—I’ve never done it to get a laugh. It’s always been in the context of what the character … like in “Old School,” he went streaking because he got so drunk and he thought he was back in college and it was a thing you did in college. It always makes sense.
Zach, you spent two weeks as a writer at “SNL.” Were you there at that time, Will?
WF: I was, actually.
What interaction do you remember having in that short time you were there, Zach?
ZG: I didn’t have any interaction with anybody except my tears. Those table reads can be pretty brutal for everybody, but when you don’t really know anyone, and when they read your—I wrote a sketch for him.
WF: Did we read it at the table?
ZG: Britney Spears was the host, and I wrote a sketch for you to play. In my mind you were going to be shrunken down and you were going to be the security guard to her bellybutton.
WF: [Laughs hysterically.]
ZG: You didn’t have that attitude at the table read. [Laughs.]
You don’t remember this?
WF: Did I—
ZG: You read it, you read it. I’m like this [puts his head in his hand]. I would imagine for someone that’s been on the cast for a while, a new person comes in, you’re like, “Who’s this guy?” I totally get that. Not that you did that at all. We didn’t have really any interaction.
WF: Even though I did ask Zach, “Has anyone told you what you’re supposed to do?” He’s like, “Not really.”
ZG: Yeah, I thought I was cast. I flew there, I thought I was going to be in a sketch or two. They’re like, “No. No! There’s your office, go in there …”
Will, you don’t remember Zach pitching sketches to you?
ZG: I don’t think it was that … it was just I wrote what I thought was good.
And it didn’t work out.
ZG: If you told 25—how many people in that room, 40?
WF: Like 40 to 50.
ZG: If you told them to be quiet for four minutes, they couldn’t have been any quieter. I heard a pin drop and it was a carpet.
WF: [Laughs.] You heard a pin drop and the echo was so loud, some people lost their hearing. That’s how loud it was.
ZG: You get a tough skin doing comedy.
WF: You know what, that’s commonplace. Sketches fail all the time, you just get used to it. You just keep plowing through.
Since we’re on video, I was wondering if you’d be up for answering a question in your characters from “The Campaign.”
WF: I would love to. Zach is extremely uncomfortable with doing that, so I can’t … we’re a team, and I can’t—
I would do a character too, though, so we’ll all be in character.
ZG: Why don’t you just do one?
By myself? That seems like it could get awkward.
WF: And then we’ll see if …
ZG: We want to join in.
OK. I’ll ask the question to Marty and Cam as Batman.
ZG: Ooh. Do you have a good Batman?
(growling as Batman) Why should the people elect you?
ZG: (as Marty) That was pretty good, Batman.
ZG: (as Marty) There’s a lot of reasons. I’m good with people. I can work the Internet. I’ve got a great family and I can drive a stick-shift.
WF: (as Cam) Batman, that’s a great question, and I want to thank you for being here. You’re one of my favorite superheroes, if not the most favorite. You’re a favorite of my family’s and everyone we know. There’s not one person that doesn’t like Batman.
ZG: Have you been working on that Batman? That’s pretty good.
For a few weeks.
WF: Was it bad that your camera guy left the room when that happened?
He usually leaves whenever I do that impression.
WF: Oh, OK.
ZG: He’d say, “Oh, God, here comes Batman again.” He jumps off the [balcony]. “Ahhhh!”
Where does comedy go from here now that you’ve worked together on the big screen?
WF: [Laughs.] Where does comedy go?
ZG: Was it here?
WF: Down the shitter.
ZG: Was it here?
WF: Yeah, was it in the room?
It was here.
ZG: Where does comedy go from here? That’s an odd but intriguing question. It seems like it takes a long answer. I think we’re at the pinnacle of shocking, unless people start doing things unlawfully.
Because there’s nothing left to do?
ZG: No, there’s plenty left to do, don’t get me wrong. I guess my answer is I don’t know where it can go, because I’ve never thought of it. [Laughs.]
WF: I don’t think you think about it when you’re in the eye of the storm.
Well, do you feel like things have changed over the last few years?
ZG: I think the Internet has changed a lot of that stuff. I think as far as “anything goes” is more prevalent now, and I think audiences are willing to laugh at things that are maybe a little un-PC. They just realize now … I think a few years ago when it was really kinda [more like], “Oh, I can’t believe they did that.” I went and saw “Jackass” a few years ago, and I saw this 85-year-old couple dying laughing. And that made me feel so—I listened to them laugh more than watching the movie. It was so great. Comedy is also generational. Do my parents necessarily think what I do is their, you know, what’s the expression?
WF: Bag of milk.
ZG: Bag of milk.
WF: It’s not their bag of milk.
What would make Galifianakis, who follows zero people on Twitter, want to follow someone: “I wouldn’t want to. I’m not into hearing about people buying paper towels. I don’t know really how to work it.”
What Ferrell wants for Ron Burgundy in the “Anchorman” sequel: “Well, I hope that he broadens his horizons slightly. Becomes more accepting of the modern world. Which is kind of what we based the script on.”
How difficult it will be to slip back into that character: “It’s going to take some time. I’m going to have to go out to my hideaway in the desert and immerse myself, go into hiding. It’s not going to be easy.”
What Galifianakis wants for Alan in the third “Hangover” movie: “I just hope that there’s some kind of closure for Alan, and all the characters in “The Hangover.” I don’t know what that would be, but some kind of closure. A little bit of hope for ‘em.”
Something they wish we had talked about: “Gorgonzola. You like to talk about gorgonzola.” (ZG) “I wanted to talk about my love of gorgonzola cheese. And you should’ve had that in the press notes.” (WF)
Guilty pleasure movies:
WF: “China Syndrome.” No, I’ve never seen that. I was going to say one, but it’s in bad taste.
WF: So guilty, the implication is you are watching it going, “I should not like this.”
ZG: You don’t know what I’m doing while I’m watching it.
WF: Oh, Jesus.
(I ask what he’s doing)
ZG: I can’t. I can’t. I feel bad. Because I have to work with the guy.
WF: Guilty pleasure movie? “Gigi.”
WF: Oh, “Gigli.” Sorry.
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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