Here are some things I learned about director Adam McKay from his new Vanity Fair profile this week on account of his new star-studded climate change metaphor Don’t Look Up: he is 6'5'', he is married to Jeremy Piven’s sister, and he had a really messy friend breakup with Will Ferrell. We will be focusing on the last one today, but aren’t the other two kind of interesting? Anyway, McKay went into a shocking amount of detail about the end of his business relationship and friendship with Ferrell, finally proving that men can be mean girls too.
According to McKay, the two had been going their separate ways for many years throughout the 2010s. He was busy directing subtle political art like The Big Short and Vice (“I was so upset and so emotional about the Iraq War, about what we had lived through, about what was happening to our country,” he told Vanity Fair), and Ferrell was acting in movies that don’t exist (Daddy’s Home 2, Holmes & Watson). However they were still both intertwined with their production company, Gary Sanchez Productions.
In 2019, they finally decided to split as business partners and released a statement saying, “The two of us will always work together creatively and always be friends. And we recognize we are lucky as hell to end this venture as such.” Very Shawn and Camila of them. But despite their allegedly cordial uncoupling, McKay said that the last time they spoke was on a phone call where Ferrell “basically was like, ‘Have a good life.’”
The story doesn’t end there though. Prior to their business breakup, Ferrell had been cast in McKay’s Showtime show about the ‘80s Lakers as team owner Jerry Buss. But it turned out that McKay never actually wanted him in the role. “The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it’s hyperrealistic,” he says. “And Ferrell just doesn’t look like Jerry Buss, and he’s not that vibe of a Jerry Buss. And there were some people involved who were like, ‘We love Ferrell, he’s a genius, but we can’t see him doing it.’”
Here is a photo of Jerry Buss.
You can say Ferrell doesn’t have “that vibe” but you can’t say that he doesn’t have the look. And you certainly can’t say that the person better suited to the look and vibe is John C. Reilly, who is Ferrell’s best friend and was the person ultimately chosen to replace Ferrell in the role, without Ferrell’s knowledge! Not to be a gender essentialist, but I do think a woman would either say it to Ferrell’s face or revel in how bitchy she was behind his back. McKay does neither.
“I fucked up on how I handled that,” McKay said. Ferrell, according to McKay, was hurt enough by the situation to go no contact. So obviously McKay decided to continue being a child about it. “I tried to reach out to him, and I reminded him of some slights that were thrown my way that were never apologized for.” Come on, king, you don’t have to bring up old shit when trying to apologize for the new shit that you started.
Friend breakups are hard, but I do think these guys made it messier than it had to be. I will be sending them both a copy of Conflict Is Not Abuse post haste, because what this country really needs right now, more than ever, is a Talladega Nights sequel.