In Hollywood, it’s rare that anyone is candid or truthful of much, usually offering diplomatic answers instead of delving into the truth. Take Will Ferrell discussing the nature of his split with director Adam McKay. The two had a longstanding working and creative relationship for years, Ferrell starring in many of McKay’s movies, and the two had a successful production company Gary Sanchez that released several successful comedies. Suddenly in 2019, the production dissolved unceremoniously, but seemingly with no bad blood. In fact, their joint split statement said, “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.”
When Ferrell was asked about the split recently, the actor kind of put the reasoning back on himself. “Adam was like, ‘I want to do this, and this, and this,’ he wanted growth and a sphere of influence, and I was just like, ‘I don’t know, that sounds like a lot that I have to keep track of,’ ” Ferrell said discussing the breakup publicly for the first time to THR earlier this year. “To me, the potential of seeing a billboard, and being like: ‘Oh, we’re producing that?’ I don’t know. … At the end of the day, we just have different amounts of bandwidth.”
You can easily chalk that up to Ferrell, saying he just can’t work as hard, it’s too much, and he wanted to bow out, putting it on himself.
But in an article with Vanity Fair discussing his new film, the disaster comedy, “Don’t Look Up,” MacKay put the split squarely on his shoulders and said he himself “fucked up” the relationship.
“I’ve learned some lessons. It’s always hard feelings,” McKay said, revealing that Gary Sanchez had nearly broken up three times previously. The breaking point, according to McKay, was when he wanted to recast the role of Los Angeles Lakers’ former team owner Jerry Buss for an upcoming HBO series. Ferrell was meant to have the part, McKay then decided, their friend and collaborator, John C. Reilly, should have the role instead.
“The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it’s hyperrealistic. 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.’ It was a bit of a hard discussion,” said McKay.
Things got worse over it, and McKay didn’t handle it himself. “[I] didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Wanted to be respectful. … I should have called [Ferrell], and I didn’t. And Reilly did, of course, because Reilly, he’s a stand-up guy.”
Worse, McKay says he hasn’t talked to Ferrell since the phone call that split up the company. “I said, ‘Well, I mean, we’re splitting up the company,’ and he basically was like, ‘Yeah we are,’ and basically was like, ‘Have a good life.’ And I’m like, ‘F—, Ferrell’s never going to talk to me again.’ So it ended not well,” McKay recalled.
The “Vice” and “Don’t Look Up” filmmaker even said that Ferrell hasn’t returned some of his emails delivered after that acrimonious call. “I fucked up on how I handled that,” he admitted. “I should have just done everything by the book. In my head, I was like, ‘We’ll let all this blow over. Six months to a year, we’ll sit down, we’ll laugh about it and go, ‘It’s all business junk, who gives a shit? We worked together for 25 years. Are we really going to let this go away?’ “But, McKay said Ferrel “took it as a way deeper hurt than I ever imagined, and I tried to reach out to him, and I reminded him of some slights that were thrown my way that were never apologized for.”
Yikes, that last part, just apologize and don’t throw shit back in people’s faces (especially in print where it won’t land). The final thought. “The whole time it was like I was saying it out loud, ‘Let’s not become an episode of Behind the Music. Don’t let it happen.’ And it happened,” he lamented.
OK, no Adam McKay/Will Ferrell comedies in the near future, I guess. Still, also, McKay’s moved in a totally different direction, so maybe the creative partnership had to split regardless. One hopes Ferrell will read this, see McKay owning up to his mistakes, and perhaps at least answering those emails.