Will Ferrell is way out of his comfort zone with his latest comedy, Casa de mi Padre. The film lands in theaters and is completely in Spanish. Yes, you read that correctly. The SNL vet is visiting with Movie Fanatic to talk about his latest feature, where the idea came from, the method to his comedy madness and answers our question: Why on earth make a Spanish language feature?
Movie Fanatic: You grew up in Southern California, did any of the Spanish you learned stick with you and make this process easier?
Will Ferrell: I think it's hard not to learn some Spanish growing up in Southern California. I had my three years of high school Spanish, and I think I had to take a couple of semesters at USC as part of a requirement, but that was it. That was my basic working knowledge. So, when this started to take off, it was one of those things where it's so funny in your head and then it's a be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario. It was like, “Oh -- now I actually have to learn the Spanish.' That's when it became a bit of a fever dream. I worked with a translator for a month out in front of shooting and then he would show up at my house at five in the morning and we'd drive to wherever our sets were. We shot most of the movie out in Chatsworth, and so he would show up at my house and we'd just drive for 45 minutes and go over that day's work. Then, on the way home, we’d go over the next day's work.
Movie Fanatic: Are you worried that you will now have to do all your own Spanish dubbing for all future movies?
Will Ferrell: I am. I'm worried, but I will be able to charge double. So that's good [laughs].
Movie Fanatic: So, why make a Spanish language comedy with Casa de mi Padre? Aren’t you worried people are going to say, “What the hell, Will?”
Movie Fanatic: You know why? For that reaction, literally! I'm just finding that it's getting more and more fun to do things that are kind of left of center and outside of the norm of what you'd expect, and I think that audiences are looking forward to things that surprise them -- or at least I hope so. I mean, it's something that I knew when the idea hit me that people were going to be sitting around going, “What the hell?” And that gives me such joy.
Movie Fanatic: What was the genesis of this project for you?
Will Ferrell: It didn't manifest itself in a way that was that calculated. It actually just simply hit me as I was watching one of these Telenovelas that we've all glanced upon, and stopping and going, “God, it's amazing how over the top it is!” Watching for a little while and then going “It'd be funny if I was in the middle of one of those.” That's simply how it started. Then from there once we kind of got the team together with Andrew [Steele] writing it and Matt [Piedmont] directing it, we just started seeing it as a real opportunity to kind of make an anti-movie movie, in a way.
Movie Fanatic: One of your trademarks is playing your humor as if it’s serious drama. Have you always been that way?
Will Ferrell: I learned it pretty quickly. Well, I'll take it back -- the stuff that I was a fan of, the comedians that I was a fan of growing up, the Dan Aykroyds of the world, they were people who just fully committed. I just loved how they fully committed to the scene, to their work. When I started doing sketch comedy at the Groundlings, when you work with a bunch of funny people you look across the room and you go “Oh, that person is just as funny as me, that person is even funnier, I think.” But I knew the one thing that I would have over anyone is just to commit fully. That was the one thing that I could control, and also it's what I felt made things funny. When it's that real, it starts to become funny. So I just thought, “Oh, that'll be the one thing that I'll always do. I'll always commit as if I'm giving an award-winning Hamlet speech at the Royal Academy of Shakespeare” -- even if I'm playing Mugatu in Zoolander. However crazy I look or whatever the context, I will always commit fully and I started having success kind of from the beginning and it just seemed to work.