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Adam McKay and Will Ferrell Basically Broke Up Because of Still-Untitled Los Angeles Lakers Project

Stephen Douglas
92nd Street Y Presents: "Anchorman2" - An Evening With Will Farrell And Adam McKay
92nd Street Y Presents: "Anchorman2" - An Evening With Will Farrell And Adam McKay / Craig Barritt/GettyImages
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Vanity Fair has a new profile about Adam McKay ahead of the release of his newest movie, Don't Look Up. The most surprising part of the interview was the headlines that it generated about McKay and Will Ferrell no longer speaking, which caught quite a few people by surprise. It turns out that McKay and Ferrell decided to shut down Gary Sanchez Productions back in 2019 and the thing that ultimately ended their working and personal relationship was the upcoming HBO series about the Los Angeles Lakers. Via Vanity Fair:

The final straw was the forthcoming HBO limited series about the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team in the 1980s based on the book Showtime. McKay had cast Ferrell, a huge Lakers fan, as Jerry Buss, the legendary ’80s-era team owner. But Ferrell was never McKay’s first choice. “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 recast 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.”

The fact that this is McKay's version of events is incredible. (With the weirdest part maybe being that at some point Michael Shannon was also cast as Jerry Buss). Whatever the real sequence of events, Reilly had better be the best Jerry Buss of all-time.

It sounds like Ferrell wanted to keep making funny movies, but McKay wanted to produce and make more serious projects. The most shocking part is that McKay doesn't seem to think he can turn that part of his brain off and he let it end his relationship with Ferrell.

Maybe that era was already over, but these guys made Anchorman, Step Brothers Talladega Nights andThe Other Guys together and then threw it all way because one of them couldn't get George W. Bush out of his system. What an incredible message about all the things that politicians have ruined.

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