In this week's "The Campaign," Ferrell creates an unforgettable new character in career politician Cam Brady, a Democratic congressional operative looking to win the plush velveteen seat of Vice President with a mixture of faux sincerity and cutthroat ruthlessness.
We got to sit down and talk to Ferrell about becoming Cam Brady, what's in store for "Anchorman: The Legend Continues," and how he felt about Kanye West and Jay-Z sampling him.
What is it about oversized political buffoons that you're so drawn to? They're just so pervasive in politics now. It's just fun to lampoon a career politician like Cam Brady. I love the thought of the guy. There's rumbling that he'd be VP -- which would be great because [he slips into a Cam Brady voice] "I don't have to do sh-t," and his wife is like, "I want to be second lady" -- [but] he's doing it for all the wrong reasons, for the fame and the attention, with no real interest in getting anything done. Because, ultimately, do we hold these guys accountable? I don't know if we do. Voter turnout last time was, like, 60 percent, and [the media was] like, "Record turnout!" Really? 60 percent? It's so crazy that neither side would [say] "Let's move election day to a weekend" or "You could vote on Saturday and Sunday instead of Tuesday." You've got to get work off... No one wake's up and goes, "We should probably change that." But no, everyone's cool with it. Anyway, I don't know... I got off track...
Did you have to consciously differentiate this character from your George W. Bush? Yes. I really tried. A lot of times I'd say, "God, I have to redo that, it sounded just like George Bush." In my head at least, he's beady eyed, where Cam is overly sincere -- he loves talking to people, he loves getting to know people, and that's what I'm trying to achieve.
There's a little Clinton in there, too. Yeah, for sure -- it's Clinton, it's John Edwards, it's all those people who are like, "I feel for you." Whereas George W. Bush was, "Any more questions? I'm done." Cam loves to give a speech whereas Bush always felt very forced.
Was the movie always rated R? It was always rated R, just because we always wanted you to see behind the curtain and that it was ugly. Politics has gotten vulgar. It's a vulgar game.
What was the thinking in releasing it around an election? It was specifically timed to try to have a little summer to play in and also bleed into the tail end of the presidential campaign. [It will] hopefully be a nice funny break from the constant bombardment that we're hearing. Yes, it was a really conscious decision.
Was there ever an inclination to make things a little more barbed on one side of the political spectrum or the other? No, we wanted it to be both sides -- that both sides are guilty of all of this and that the biggest evil of all is this crazy amount of money that's being poured into these campaigns. I was hearing from somewhere that members of congress, they go and they vote, and as soon as they get elected they've got to start raising money for the election two years down the line. They can't raise money on Capitol Hill so they sit in these cars parked on the street and they get out there on their cell phones and start raising money two years down the road. And you're not getting a chance to govern if that's the focus.
You guys obviously do a lot of improv on the set. Was there anything really crazy that got left out? This was a pretty straight-ahead story. When I got bit by the snake [in a scene where I was trying to assert my commitment to snake handling voters] we had a whole section that we cut out. When I break through the church there is a whole section where I've been running through the woods all night long and the venom is coursing through my veins and I end up seeing Shayna dressed as a cheerleader -- and we shot all that. And then I do a double take and it's Zach dressed in a cheerleader's outfit with a huge cobra around his neck. Then I bust through and land in the Mendhalls' house [a family who, earlier in the movie, accidentally receives an obscene voice mail from Ferrell's Cam Brady] with a huge erection. So, yeah, that was crazy.
So what did you think about Jay-Z and Kanye sampling your "Blades of Glory" line? Freakin' awesome man, I loved it. The only thing I'm bummed about is... I had gotten a message that they had wanted to sample the thing, and I was like, "Of course!" I didn't know they even had to ask my permission. I didn't think anything of it and then it becomes one of the biggest hip-hop songs of all time. And then I got an email from Kanye, my buddy Kanye, saying that they wanted to shoot a video that they would play during their concerts for that song. So I said "Of course!" And then a month went by and he said, "I'm in New York, when can we shoot it?" And I said, "I'm in LA." So it just never happened. So that would have been fun. It was surreal.
How close did "Step Brothers 2" come to actually getting made? "Step Brothers 2" probably got on the five-yard line and we thought, "Okay, we're about to do this." But then it was like, let's just make another run at "Anchorman 2" and go back to the studio and say, "Any second thoughts?" And at that point they said, "Okay, let's see if we can work something out." That's when it happened.
Would you ever go back to "Step Brothers 2?" Creatively if there was a moratorium on people getting beat up for doing too many sequels, then absolutely. But we're just going to do this now and I would love to but you run that risk of, "Oh now he's just doing sequels." Now we're just doing this and I don't want to jeopardize the love for the original by doing another one. For right now, we're just focused on that. We just had the best time and John [C. Reilly] is the best...
Will he be in "Anchorman 2?" We don't know yet. We've gotten the story down and we're still just crafting the script.
Will you be back on "Eastbound and Down?" I hope so, yeah.
You're burned up, but still... Yeah, I'm wrapped in gauze. But I could be back.
"The Campaign" hits theaters this Friday."