Actor and producer Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay famously split up as work partners in 2019, with their production house folding and each moving on to other works. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, McKay offered up more reasons as to why the two split and gave an update on their relationship.
According to McKay, Ferrell had wanted to split up with McKay and break up their Gary Sanchez Productions company at least three times, but McKay often hesitated due to not wanting Ferrell to regret it. Things came to a head, however, when McKay decided to replace Ferrell with John C. Reilly in the role of former Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss in the upcoming HBO limited series Showtime.
McKay noted that Ferrell was initially cast, but was never his first choice to take on the role due to the creators wanting to try and keep things as “hyperrealistic” as possible. “The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it’s hyperrealistic,” McKay 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.”
Instead, McKay ended up recasting Reilly — his first choice for the role — as Buss, but didn’t tell Ferrell about it beforehand. This apparently angered Ferrell, and is something that McKay regrets having done without talking to his friend first. “I should have called him and I didn’t,” says McKay. “And Reilly did, of course, because Reilly, he’s a stand-up guy.”
Despite the company breaking up with a positive message of friendship, McKay notes that things haven’t been great between the two behind-the-scenes. “I said, ‘Well, I mean, we’re splitting up the company,’” said McKay. “And he basically was like, ‘Yeah, we are,’ and basically was like, ‘Have a good life.’ And I’m like, ‘F—, Ferrell’s never going to talk to me again.’ So it ended not well.”
McKay went on to say that he’s tried to reach out to Ferrell a handful of times, including various emails sent to his friend, but he’s never heard back. McKay chalks the issue up to believing that eventually things would have blown over, but that Ferrell was much angrier over things than he thought.
“It’s the old thing of keep your side of the street clean. I should have just done everything by the book,” McKay said. “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 s—? 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.”