As his popular “Zoolander” character Mugatu would say, Will Ferrel is “So hot right now,” or “muy caliente, as he would say in “Casa de mi Padre.” His Television show “Eastbound and Down” returned for its third season, his website Funnyordie.com welcomes thousands of new viewers everyday, his summer film line-up includes a movie with Zach Galifanakis, and his newest movie “Casa de mi Padre” just hit theaters. The latter marks a new type of role for Ferrel. He still plays a strange, funny man, but this time he speaks Spanish. Ferrel recently participated in a phone interview with “The Oredigger” about the role which required him to spend countless hours memorizing lines in a language he did not speak fluently.
Ferrel actually created the concept for the movie. He said, “[I] got the idea from those times when you’re flipping through the channels and you stop for a second and you’re like, ‘What’s going on here? What is this show? Oh, it’s a Spanish soap opera.'” Ferrel then approached his longtime friends Andrew Steel and Adam McKay from “Saturday Night Live” to write and direct the film. He knew from the beginning that he wanted the movie to be completely in Spanish. Ferrel said, “[We] felt like [we] hadn’t seen an American comedian commit to a foreign language film and thought the film would take audiences by surprise.”
Not knowing any Spanish created a few obstacles for both McKay and Ferrel, but Ferrel said, “[I] didn’t want the joke of the movie to be that I spoke Spanish poorly.” When memorizing lines, Ferrel was primarily focused on having the best pronunciation he could in order to make his lines flow more fluently. For a comedic actor known for improvising, memorization made timing difficult. Ferrel explained that the foreign language aspect of the film drastically reduced moments for verbal improvisation. Instead, he relied on little physical moments and reactions. It helped that the script, initially in English, was translated to Spanish for the filming of the movie. According to Ferrel, “Once you know what you’re saying, you can put the right emphasis in the right places.” Even though the part required more dedication than his previous roles, Ferrel hopes the film becomes a “cult hit” so he can make sequels.
McKay and Ferrel wanted to make the movie as genuine to the telenovela style as they could. Therefore, they incorporated famous actors from the Spanish films. This included two of Mexico’s finest actors – Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal. While the two are better known for their dramatic roles, Ferrel said “Diego and Gael have a great sense of humor… [and] saw it as an opportunity to be funny in a way they are never offered.” Treading carefully around cultural differences in comedic timing, Ferrel insisted that they “find the same kind of bond that [he’s] found with other actors.” According to Ferrel, the primarily Latino cast actually helped him immerse himself in the culture and become his character. When asked about the differences in humor between cultures, Ferrel said, “Physical humor translates and broad themes seem to be shared,” but he admits that “there’s going to be different cultural things that you can never compare.”
Still, while the movie marks a departure from his normally hyper-Americanized characters, Ferrel believes that the movie “will be a pleasant surprise” for his long-time fans. He believes that movie’s style may be different, but that the film offers the same “absurdist qualities” that “Anchorman” and his other popular films had. The movie hits theaters on March 16, so be sure to go see Ferrel in action.