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Butts Below the Border

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Ferrell in Casa de Mi Padre.  

Says Ferrell, “I think in our script it was literally written, ‘Lots and lots of butts, way too many butts.’ ” Butts being caressed and cupped and kneaded and aggressively pinched.

“I thought to myself, (a) ‘You’ve never seen that,’ and (b) ‘We’re going to shoot it with soft lens and make it the most beautiful thing ever,’ ” says Ferrell. “And I knew it would go on way too long and it would either get funnier and funnier to people or it will be, like, ‘Enough!’ ”

No. To paraphrase Christopher Walken’s music producer on SNL, boisterously demanding more of Ferrell’s discordant cowbell accompaniment to what is supposedly the original recording of Blue Öyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” there cannot be too many butts.

This summer, in time for the conventions, Ferrell gets more overtly political with The Campaign, in which he and Zach Galifianakis play rival candidates—Ferrell the slick, Clintonesque glad-hander who secretly aspires to be vice-president, Galifianakis the mild milquetoast recruited by a pair of rich CEOs to run against him. It’s no surprise to hear that the absurdity of the real Republican primaries forced ­Ferrell & Co. to reshoot scenes to make them more outlandish: They couldn’t compete. Ferrell savors a YouTube ­montage in which Mitt Romney’s mindlessly dissociated delivery is uncannily similar to Steve Carell’s as the touchingly vacuous weatherman in Anchorman.

He and McKay have projects on the drawing board—maybe even a sequel to Anchorman or Step Brothers, if they can be sure they won’t be repeating themselves. They can afford to take the time to get it right.

Ferrell works constantly but gives the impression of falling into things rather than desperately maneuvering to nail down his next gig. His even temperament inspires much theorizing. McKay says that David O. Russell, an executive producer on Anchorman, has the best take: “He said, ‘Ferrell has the answers that we’re all looking for through meditation and self-­improvement. He doesn’t need to examine himself. He just has them.’ He’s not a perfect person by any means. He’ll get pissed off, he’ll gossip, he’ll occasionally have too much to drink; there’s still foibles there. But he’s just one of the most freakishly healthy people.”

I suggest that it’s the Zen ideal: alertness and detachment simultaneously.

“You just described Ferrell. I don’t even think he knows it. I don’t think he knows anything.”

Ferrell doesn’t know if he doesn’t know. “It’s funny,” he says, “I’m very much a let-it-go-to-the-universe type of performer. Don’t worry about every single detail.” He can wait a long time for that whale’s vagina.


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