Mr. Ferrell, when was the time in your life that you drank the most?
There was definitely a lot of drinking during college. But when I was on Saturday Night Live we probably went out quite a bit with the cast as well. It is easy when you are living in New York and you don’t have to drive anywhere. New York is a fun town to go out in. During my twenties and into my thirties I had a good time partying, yes. But nothing where I woke up and I thought that I had a problem.
Do a lot of ideas for comedy skits get born drunk?
You would be surprised how few. A lot of ideas get born drunk and then the next morning you are like, “What were we thinking? That is ridiculous and not funny at all.” We would definitely do stupid stuff in bars but they mostly stayed there as well.
What kind of a drunk are you?
(Laughs) I actually did get really drunk one night and had a friend of mine film me so I could see what I am like.
I am just a happy drunk.
Is there anything that gets you embarrassed?
I am not embarrassed by too much, other than talking about myself. Because I am kind of boring to me and in a way it’s not an easy thing to do.
You are funny. What do you laugh about?
Handling a painful situation in a comedic way is truly the funniest. That is extremely real to me and not kind of clownish. There is a thin line though; you can’t overdo it. I also love watching people be totally committed in a very real way to stupid situations. I find it’s not so much trying to be funny, it’s trying to be real in a messed up context. That’s comedy to me.
What about nudity? Are Americans too uptight about that stuff?
Nudity in the right context for sure! (Laughs) That can be genius. It’s sad, in other countries you can swear as much as you want even when kids are sitting in the audience. I should have thrown in some more hardcore swearing while being in Europe. I’ll make sure to do that next time.
Is it true that you gained weight for comedic purposes, in order to be able to put nudity in the right context?
No, I never purposely gained weight. I just kind of have a comedic looking body I guess. If anything I really have to exercise just to not look too fudgy, otherwise I would just keep going and going.
But you used to be quite athletic and even ran marathons?
Yes, but unfortunately I haven’t done that in about seven years. But I do run about four miles every day. I used to be very active.
You do a more serious independent movie every once in a while. Is that for your own sanity between all the blockbuster comedies?
On the set of an independent film you can tell that nobody is doing it for the money. Everyone is there because they love the script. A smaller budget sort of unifies everyone; it’s a real team effort and that’s amazing. But these opportunities just don’t present themselves that often for me, so basically any chance I get to do something different I jump on it.
But you must get sent tons of scripts with different roles. Are most of them just not good?
No, they just don’t get sent to me. I don’t even get to read them. I think they stop at other actors’ doorsteps first before they think of me. In a lot of people’s head I am not even considered for roles like that because of my reputation. So it’s not like I read a lot of things and can’t decide; it’s just mostly comedies or bad roles.
Not too long ago you were considered by the US press as the most overpaid actor in Hollywood.
I know, right! Forbes or something like that? It’s interesting, I think two years ago I was at the top of the list of the most valuable actors and then all of a sudden it switched. That having been said, I think we’re all striving to be overpaid, right? Why not? So I think it’s a victory to be the most overpaid person.
Good for you. What do you spend your money on?
Definitely not on Forbes magazine. (Laughs)
When people say things like that, that you’re the most overpaid actor, do you feel pressure from that?
No, no. Last year I was in a movie that cost a lot and didn’t make that much, but if they made that list now I’d probably be back on the good list. I think with entertainment journalism now everyone is looking for a story that’s about anything but the work. If someone’s up, let’s write a story: “Oh it looks like they’re falling!” and if they’ve fallen, “Oh look they’re coming back up!” So everyone has to have a certain angle. I just try to focus on the positive. I’ve never felt pressure, I don’t know if that’s ignorance or not. I just feel like, if you want to write me a check to make a movie, thank you so much, but that’s your fault. (Laughs) I’ll work hard and I’ll try to do my best, but if it doesn’t work I don’t feel like, “Oh I’m so sorry.” No, you paid me and I did my best job but it just didn’t work and that’s what happens with creative stuff.
And it might not have been your fault; it might have been someone else’s fault the movie didn’t go so well.
Always. (Laughs) Of course you feel bad. You want every movie to be a hit. But every painting isn’t a masterpiece.Return to Top
Name: John William Ferrell
DOB: 16 July 1967
Place of Birth: Irvine, California, USA
Occupation: Comedian, Actor