Adam McKay Talked About His Fallout With Will Ferrell

November 30, 2021 / Posted by:

Time for some straight boy drama! Back in 2019 Will Ferrell and Adam McKay announced they were ending their professional partnership. These two collaborated on movies like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Step Brothers, and produced a bunch of projects through their company, Gary Sanchez Productions. At the time of the split, they 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.” But guess what? That was bullshit. And now Adam is spilling all the dirt in a new Vanity Fair profile. And it’s kind of a big deal (Anchorman quote, my apologies).

Last month Will, 54, told the Hollywood Reporter that the reason they split was that Adam, 53, wanted to produce more projects than he did:

“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.’ 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.”

Adam told Vanity Fair that he and Will had discussed breaking up Gary Sanchez Productions at least three times, “often on Ferrell’s suggestion.” But he always felt that doing so would hurt Will’s feelings. He explains that “factions formed” inside the company, with his people at odds with Will’s people. Adam says the last time he talked to Will was in a “curt phone conversation” to discuss breaking up:

“I said, ‘Well, I mean, we’re splitting up the company,’” recounts McKay. “And he basically was like, ‘Yeah, we are,’ and basically was like, ‘Have a good life.’ And I’m like, ‘Fuck, Ferrell’s never going to talk to me again.’ So it ended not well.”

After the end of their business partnership, things got worse. Adam was making an HBO limited series about the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team in the late ’80s, based on the book Showtime. Will Ferrell, who’s a huge Lakers fan, was cast as team owner Jerry Buss. After Gary Sanchez Productions broke up, the project switched over to Adam’s new company, Hyperobject Industries. And Adam decided to recast John C. Reilly in Will’s role:

The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it’s hyperrealistic,” he says. “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.”

The person McKay wanted for Buss was John C. Reilly, who looks more like the real thing, and who is Ferrell’s best friend. McKay hesitated. “Didn’t want to hurt his feelings,” he says flatly. “Wanted to be respectful.”

In the end he cast Reilly in the role anyway—without telling Ferrell first. Ferrell was infuriated. “I should have called him and I didn’t,” says McKay. “And Reilly did, of course, because Reilly, he’s a stand-up guy.”

Adam says he wrote emails to Will, but he never heard back:

“I fucked up on how I handled that,” McKay laments. “It’s the old thing of keep your side of the street clean. 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 Ferrell, he continues, “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.”

Yep, that’s the way to apologize. Remind the guy you hurt about all the times he hurt you. Will Ferrell declined to comment on the Vanity Fair story, but you know he’s at home stewing. Everybody’s supposed to think he’s a chill dude! Public feuds are for women and C-listers! Way to break bro-code, McKay…


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