The relationship between Will Ferrell and Adam McKay is legendary. Combined, the duo worked on a number of already-iconic comedy films such as “Anchorman,” “Step Brothers,” and “Talledega Nights.” But it’s a film that was never made, titled “August Blowout,” that might have been the most important collaboration between the duo.
Speaking on a recent edition of THR’s Awards Chatter podcast, Ferrell talked about “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” and that film’s Oscar chances, which seems very real given that the soundtrack is now officially a Grammy nominee. But during that interview, the actor talked about the genesis of his relationship with Adam McKay and how they attracted the help of Paul Thomas Anderson.
“We were actually hired on the same day ,” said Ferrell about his partnership with McKay. “Obviously Adam as a writer. And we just started writing sketches together and realized we had a lot of the same comedy taste as well as working style which was to not overthink it, and just to work really fast and maybe look at it a second time, but for the most part, go with that first gut [instinct] “
He added, “I had turned to Adam and said, ‘Would you ever want to write a feature together?’ and he said, ‘let’s do it.’”
That film would become “August Blowout,” a script for a comedy that never got made.
“We had written this script called ‘August Blowout’ that never got made, but really got passed around town,” explained Ferrell. “This was kinda about a ‘Glengarry Glenn Ross’ meets a car dealership, meets, ‘Used Cars.’ It was about weird, horrible, eccentric car dealership guys and whatever that world is.”
While the script didn’t actually get a green light, “August Blowout” did gain the attention of noted comedy fan (especially with the works of Adam Sandler), Paul Thomas Anderson. And though ‘Blowout’ well, blew out, the friendship did turn prosperous.
“That was a nice calling card for our tone and kind of set the table for us,” he explained. “I remember Paul Thomas Anderson had read that and said [to us], ‘Wow, do you guys want to write something else?’ and that’s when the ‘Anchorman’ idea came around.”
Now, wait, what? PTA asking Will Ferrell and Adam McKay if they potentially wanted to write something for him? Unfortunately, the interviewer doesn’t follow up on any of that, nor asks any details about PTA’s relationship to them, but this would have likely been circa the early aughts, and Anderson has started dating Maya Rudolph in 2001 when she was on “Saturday Night Live,” so that’s likely where all those connections were made.
Fortunately, the story is out there and in short, Anderson was so impressed with “August Blowout,” he offered to help them make their next movie which turned out to be “Anchorman.”
“[He] came and guest-wrote for a week on SNL,” Ferrell explained back in 2017 on the Bill Simmons podcast. “And he sat down with us and he was like, ‘I read that ‘August Blowout.'”
“He’s like, ‘What if you guys wrote whatever you wanted to write, and I would shepherd it for you and kind of find out how to make it?’ We were like, ‘We’d do it. We’d do it in a heartbeat.’ So that’s when we wrote ‘Anchorman.’ So he was one of the guardian angels even though I think the first incarnation of that was maybe a little too weird for Paul.”
The script would obviously go to Judd Apatow and the rest is history, but dare to dream that Paul Thomas Anderson could properly collaborate with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay one day. As for “Anchorman,” well, it still took a minute for Hollywood to get interested, but once “Old School” became a hit, Dreamworks realized they had the option and decided to greenlight it soon after it lit up the box-office, Ferrell explained.