ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
The News Team Returns
McKay and Ferrell wrote a working draft of their script, with McKay covering
the first half and Ferrell the latter. A table read was held in Los Angeles in
November 2012, with most of the cast in attendance (except for Rudd and Carell,
who were working on other projects, other comics subbing in their stead).
"I couldn't believe the security on this," Rudd laughs. "I had to sign a form
and read the script on a computer (before the table read), and then it just
vanished after a couple of hours. But when it did show up, I started reading it
immediately and was just cracking up!" The team was clearly excited by what they
saw. "In the first movie, every scene had a bunch of jokes," says Koechner, "but
this had a flurry of jokes in every scene and always ends with a knockout punch.
Even without Paul and Steve there, it was clear this was going to work - and be
very, very funny."
The film begins with Ron and Veronica, now weekend co-anchors on national
network news, getting called into lead anchor Mack Tannen's office, hopefully
for some important news of their own. "They're doing well, but they're not quite
there yet," comments McKay. "So we decided to make them weekend network
It is expected that Tannen - the Tom Brokaw of their world - is going to
announce his retirement and, so the duo assumes, will name them as his
replacement. But when they meet with him, it's quickly made clear what kind of
job Burgundy has been doing: Veronica is named Tannen's replacement, and Ron is
fired - immediately.
"Burgundy's ego is touchy to begin with," McKay explains. "But when he gets
fired and his wife gets the dream job of dream jobs, he's not built to handle
that. He collapses immediately."
As for Veronica, time and success have smoothed her feathers, to a large
degree. "In the first film, I was kind of the villain. But she's softened. It's
seven years later, and she isn't driven for success the way she was then. She's
reached her success, and they're parents now. Having a kid has really grounded
her - I think I like the new, softer, supportive, loving Veronica."
Upon receiving Tannen's job offer, Veronica finds herself in a difficult
predicament, her husband forcing her to choose between him and her career. "It's
an unfair ultimatum, and it's very selfish of him," she informs. "I think, out
of anger, she takes the job, just to punish him for being so ridiculous about
Ron and Veronica separate, and within six months, we find Burgundy at his new
job: an obnoxious, drunken host at Sea World, booed even by the smallest of
children. "That's the thing about Burgundy," McKay explains, "you give him bad
news, and he bottoms out as he is wont to do. You go in the other room, and he's
already dirty and drinking."
It's not long, though, before he is approached by Freddie Shapp, a mid-level
producer at upstart cable news network, GNN, played by actor DYLAN BAKER. "I saw
something in Ron when I watched him in San Diego, and I knew, since no one else
was available, that Ron was the guy to get" for the network, Baker says of his
Baker was an actor always on the radar for Ferrell and McKay, who had wanted
him for a role in the original Anchorman, though Baker was unavailable due to a
television commitment. "We've just loved him forever," McKay says. "He's one of
those actors that every actor knows is good. He's super collaborative, game,
funny and can play dramatic, comedy, anything he wants. That was just a treat."
Working with this group of comic actors was still a challenge, even for the
veteran Baker. "There were scenes when I'd just be sitting there crying, I was
laughing so hard," he says. "There was one closeup on me, where we had to keep
going, but behind these little glasses I wear, there were tears just rolling
down my face. This is the funniest thing I've ever been around, bar none."
Shapp offers Burgundy the golden apple - an invitation to become an anchor at
the network in the bigger apple, New York City. He offers to provide a support
team of reporters, but, of course. . . Burgundy already has one.
As if getting four busy actors together in one place isn't hard enough - try
getting Ron Burgundy's news team back together. Burgundy, committed to his new
cable news pursuit, hits the road in his tricked out Winnebago to round up the
gang, in a classic "getting the band back together" road trip. "That's one of
those clichÃ©s in movies you see over and over again, be it The Dirty Dozen, The
Blues Brothers or any other - and any time you do that in a movie, it's
enjoyable," says McKay, particularly with these lunatics. "We go looking to find
out where each of the guys has been for the last five years, and, for the most
part, they haven't been doing so well."
Champ is in the poorest state. "We don't know if he's homeless, out murdering
people, we're not quite sure," notes David Koechner. One thing we do know is
that he now has a chain of "Whammy Chicken" franchises. Of course, that's not
actually chicken under all that batter. "He's secretly serving bats to save
money," McKay explains. "And he's so earnest about his absolute refusal to even
try chicken." Besides, bats are "chicken of the cave," as Champ calls them.
Not that Champ doesn't thoroughly believe in the good fowl, as he touts in
his Whammy TV commercials, Koechner points out. "He believes in delicious
chicken - and also that the census is a way for the UN to turn your children
gay. He believes in good chicken and the coming race war in ten years, for which
he intends to be armed." That's our Champ. "He's a borderline full-on
psychopath," says Paul Rudd.
But his team nonetheless can see past all that. "In another context," McKay
points out, "he'd be a horrible guy. But these guys are able to see his best
side." In fact, that's always the case with this news team. "They're all
buffoons in their own way," Rudd says. "And yet there's still something about
these guys that is innocent. We love the other guys on this news team. We would
never judge them or call them out for what they clearly are."
Rudd's Brian Fantana is clearly on the other end of the scale: a successful
kitty photographer. As in Cat Fancy kitties. "Brian is the preeminent cat
photographer," Rudd describes. "You know, like all those 'I Hate Mondays'
posters you see in dentist offices. And I make a ton of cash." He's got the
mansion and he's got the girls- they all hang out with Brian.
The guys show up to gauge Brian's interest in rejoining the team. "The second
they show up, I lose it all - I'm getting sued for using the word 'pussy'
inappropriately. So I'm onboard right away," says Rudd. Not that he actually has
anything to offer the good folks at GNN. "He has no understanding of journalism
and no idea what he's doing," McKay notes.
The team continues their quest to round out the pack, but end up,
unfortunately, at Brick Tamland's funeral - at which Brick is delivering his own
eulogy. "Brick has gone away for a little while, and we're not sure where Brick
has been," Carell explains. "I don't think Brick knows where he has gone." Brick
has certainly not evolved in any way. "He hasn't come a long way since 'I love
lamp,'" his classic observation from the first film. "Brick has not evolved. And
I'm committed to keeping Brick from ever evolving in any way, shape or form."
Apparently, though, he has drowned at sea. His compadres inform him at the
funeral that the dead person being spoken so fondly about - by Brick, actually -
is Brick. "He's relieved," comments Carell, "as I think anyone would be, but who
wouldn't want to go to their own funeral and give their own eulogy?"
The boys take a rather eventful trip together to The Big Apple in Ron's
tricked-out RV. The sequence represented the first time all four actors worked
together on the new film, save for a short teaser trailer shot even before the
script was completed. "It's a rare chemistry, with these four guys," Koechner
observes. "Adam and Will are always able to put all these pieces together that
fit just perfectly. But the cast just meshes. When we're working together, doing
it, you really don't over think it, it just happens."
Ferrell notes, "We all have the same comedy mindset, which is just fantastic.
We're all very creative in how we do stupid. When we're all four in the same
scene, everyone's excited to hear what the other guy's gonna say, and then
you're trying to think of a joke that'll top it. But at the same time, we all
support the act of listening, which a lot of people in comedy don't. If someone
comes up with a winning idea, we all naturally just go with it."
That work ethic spilled over into cast members outside the news team, as
well. "It was a little daunting, at first, joining this group, seeing how close
they are," says JAMES MARSDEN. "But they all want everyone else to be funny. I
figured it would be everyone trying to win the 'funny race.' But they're
incredibly generous. They'll set you up for a line. They're in the game to help
you." Adds Koechner, "Everyone's pulling for everyone else here. Everybody gets
The team are also all skilled improvisers - Ferrell chief among them. "Will
is so good at throwing something out there that's unexpected and so far out of
left field," Rudd informs, "it'll just bust me up, even when I know what he's
going to say." Marsden concurs. "Even if you know what line is coming, he still
does it different than anyone expects," often causing fellow cast members to
lose it. But are the tables ever turned? "When you're able to bust Will Ferrell
up, then you know you're doing something good," Marsden notes. "That's the Holy
mprov is all part of the show when making an Adam McKay film. The director,
in fact, sits at the monitors in his "video village" tent, regularly spouting
out hilarious suggestions to his cast over a mic and P.A. system set up for just
that purpose. "They're all very collaborative," the director notes. "They
basically let me jump into the scene with them - and they like it. I used to
have to run to the set or yell, but this is much easier. You put yourself in the
scene, ride it, feel it out, and just feel where there's an opportunity where
you can help them, or if they get a great improv idea, to help them sharpen it."
The cast do indeed enjoy the process. "You try to come pretty prepared with a
few ideas, so that in case a scene gets off track, you can toss something out
there to keep it alive," Marsden explains. "And as soon as you think there's
nothing more for your character to say, McKay pulls stuff out that's just so
backwards and full of his own brand of humor, he's brilliant. And it's
never-ending." Adds Koechner, "I think Adam must have had three or four lines
for each character in every scene when he was doing the script, he just didn't
write them down. So we get to benefit from his genius."
"He sits in his little tent with a microphone and watches a scene," Carell
says. "And he's so adept at throwing out the most perfect suggestions at the
most ideal times. When McKay is on the microphone, you feel like your brain has
been multiplied by four, because you've got your stuff you can improvise, but
then you also have his brain working for you as well, at your disposal."
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