For all his flaws, he has a very relatable perspective, which I appreciate. There were a couple specific scenes I think that we’d be remiss not to talk about, the first being the c***sucker scene, the jive turkey scene. How did you arrive at jive turkey being the ultimate offensive thing that could be said?
I think that was originally pitched to me, that was a later thing. That wasn’t in the original script. We wanted to add something to that part of the movie. I think that’s something Kent Alterman actually came up with that framework of something and from there we built off of that. But that’s just a great idea.
Yeah, genuinely wonderful. But also, you have guys in that scene that are known for improvisation. Be it that scene or the rest of the movie, how much of it was improv or how much of that was actually in your script?
The funny thing about that, the one guy who improvised the most is probably Andy Daly. Andy Daly is Dick Pepperfield, one of my all-time favorite characters. Just the guy that just clicked into that role. He literally became the guy. Originally, Andy Daly was, like I said, somebody who performed at the theater and hadn’t really been in a lot of things yet. I invited him to the table read, assuming we would eventually put in someone more famous or whatever. But then he just killed so hard in the table read that it was just like, “Oh my God, he’s going to be the guy.” He was great.
But a lot of that stuff you just roll camera and he’d just roll on things. Believe me, a lot of it’s written. But then he would take the beginning of that and let that spin out into other things. I think somewhere in storage at New Line is a reel of him just winging it, talking about so much nonsense. He was so great and he actually built this whole backstory of his character who’s conservative but has a slightly wild side he won’t admit to or whatever. It’s just funny.
Andy Daly is one of the funniest people. I don’t know if you ever saw the show “Review” that he did.
Oh yeah. Big fan of “Review.” Kent Alterman directed this movie and then went on to produce that at Comedy Central.
It’s a miracle you got Andy in there because I can’t picture anyone else, especially as a guy named Dick Pepperfield. That is completely the right person for that role.
In my mind, Dick Pepperfield grew up in Iowa and had five daughters, and had a potato farm in his backyard or whatever. It’s just this sometimes there’s this Midwestern basketball guys that wear blazers that are just like, I don’t know, there’s something funny about it.
The other one is the bear scene where Will Ferrell wrestles the bear. You had Kristen Wiig in there as the bear wrangler.
Yeah, she was awesome. It was so cool of her to come and do that.
Did you guys actually have a bear on set? How did you pull that off?
Yeah, we had a real bear on set and I mean, not all of it was. Obviously, we’re using movie magic. Will Ferrell was never in danger. But we really used a bear. Now I think everyone changed the rules, and have been more looking out for bears, and the rights of animals. So I think if we had to do it over again, we probably would’ve digitized it. But yeah, that’s a big bear. We named it after my dog, Dewey.
Yeah, Dewey is also the perfect name for a bear that you have to wrestle, too. It’s just such an unassuming name.
That’s the idea. When I lived in Peoria, Illinois, there was this local bar that you were allowed to wrestle a bear to raise money for charity or something, which is totally wrong and cruel, but also something with it just stuck with me. It’s so old-fashioned. And again, a lot of this is the idea is that it’s set in the 70’s, so it’s things you would never do now. So a lot of it is supposed to be backwards. Wrestling a bear to me was old thinking. That was part of what I think was funny about it. But now that we look back from here, even when we shot it, that was old thinking not to digitize it.
Totally. Well, that’s what was striking about it now. Because we’ve got “Cocaine Bear” coming out and you have a whole movie with a digital bear. Then I was watching this, it’s almost hard to know, but I’m like, that bear looked really real when I was watching it.
The stuntman had glue to hold his wig on so he looked like Will Ferrell. And I guess the bear liked the glue on the wig. There’s a scene and then we left it in where he’s really going after the hair. And then later on we added, I think Will put in some audio lines later, like, “Let go of my hair, my beautiful hair.” That was added on.