Will Ferrell habla de la Casa de mi Padre

Mexico's newest star on his Spanish-language debut, finding comedy between the subtitles, and his plans for a Hermanastros sequel.

by | March 14, 2012 | Comments

 

Not since Charlton Heston played a Latino drug officer in Touch of Evil has a giant of American cinema so, ahem, convincingly inhabited a Mexican on screen like Will Ferrell in this week’s Casa de mi Padre. Making his Spanish-language debut, Ferrell plays slow-witted black-sheep-of-the-clan Armando Alvarez, whose swarthy brother Raul (Diego Luna) is taking the family into the drug trade against the nefarious La Onza (Gael García Bernal). Meanwhile, Raul’s fiance, the beautiful and tragic Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), has fallen for Armando, a wedding turns into a hyperreal bloodbath, and a mystical white panther stalks the patently fake jungle sets dispensing oracle wisdom. The movie is an affectionate satire of the unintentionally comic Mexican telenovelas, with a heavy dose of bad Spaghetti Westerns, overly sincere performances, and even a touch of Jodorowsky strangeness. We sat down with the star recently for a chat about the film…


This movie has everything: action, romance, surrealism, panthers…

Will Ferrell: [Laughs] Yeah.

As I understand, you’d always wanted to do a Spanish-language movie. At what point did it become this one?

You know, I had the general idea and then it really was Andrew Steele, the writer, who just kind of created the whole story, the whole setting. When we talked about it I was kind of like, “Andrew, I don’t know what exactly but I’m sure it’s gotta be some epic story, probably with a love element and some sort of melodramatic tale.” But yeah, he kind of turned it into this story and added the narco traficante element to it. Then when we added Matt Piedmont, the director, to it, he kind of added the surrealism element with the way he shot things and finding and using old lenses at Panavision to shoot on, shooting it anamorphic and not processing the film and stuff like that. It just kind of kept getting… the simple structure was built and then more and more layers of schlack were added.

That being the technical term.

Yeah. [Laughs]

Were you, like Matt, a fan of the telenovelas?

I had seen telenovelas just, you know, cruising around the TV and had always thought to myself, “God, these things are kind of fascinating.” They were so over the top and had this weird style to them; they were very bizarre. So that was where the initial concept came from, but then Andrew, those guys, they know their cinema really well and they were kind of connoisseurs of bad Mexican cinema from 1969 through the middle ’70s — you know, a lot of these Spaghetti Westerns with the jump cuts and the continuity issues and things like that.

So we’re not talking about Sergio Leone-level stuff here.

Noooooo.

More like the kind of movies you’d accidentally see on late night TV…

Late at night on TV, poorly dubbed in English. [Laughs] So they started talking about what if we added those elements, and I thought — that’s amazing. But I can’t say that I knew that world so well. Between Matt and Andrew, they really gave it the style that it has.

When you committed to do this, had you made the decision to speak fluently in Spanish?

Yeah.

Genesis Rodriguez was very full of praise for your… cadence.

[Laughs] That’s very nice.

She’s the expert, having been in telenovelas.

She would know. She’s a pro. And Diego [Luna], too, actually did telenovelas ’til he was 19, I guess, which I didn’t know. We didn’t realize that he saw it as an opportunity to make fun of what he had done as an actor.

He didn’t think you were serious about the movie, right? Like it was some kind of practical joke?

Yeah. He even sat down with us — we all had drinks in Venice and he was like, “Are you really gonna learn Spanish?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” Then he said, “Alright, well… I guess I’m in.” [Laughs] But when I had the initial idea I always thought, “If I’m gonna do this, the joke won’t be that I speak Spanish poorly.” The joke has to be that you’re sitting in the theater, watching it, and I come up on screen speaking Spanish and a couple of things go through your head, like: “How long is this gonna last? Is it gonna last the whole movie? There’s no way… oh my god, I think it is.” And the third point being, “And he sounds pretty good, I think.” [Laughs]

‘Cause that gag would’ve gotten old in about two minutes.

Exactly. That’s a sketch. So I knew that if I was gonna do this I had to at least sound as authentic as I could. That’s why he hedged our bet a little bit with the family, with the father and Diego commenting at times, “You speak so weird” and “You’re not the smart one.”, Also, we knew that for native speakers I would sound decent, but a little off. So I tirelessly worked with a translator for about six weeks out from shooting, and then every day, on the set, we’d drive together and go over the lines, and then drive home together and go over the next day’s lines.

<img

src=”http://resizing.flixster.com/T7QkijYcQ5Xc4kXQpIHRmYcMUMA=/630×268/v1.czsxMDI0OTY2NztqOzE5MTc3″ width=”630″ height=”255″ />

Does Matt speak Spanish?

No. Matt doesn’t speak Spanish, Andrew doesn’t speak Spanish, so… [Laughs]

That must have been an interesting set. Genesis was saying that Gael and Diego would sometimes ad-lib and you’d be left with a kind of blank stare…

[Laughs]

How did that work? I mean, you obviously have your particular comedic style, so how did that mesh when you’re speaking Spanish? Did that mean you had to find a different style of comedy when you were doing it?

You know it was almost, in a weird way, like being a silent film actor — [laughs] — or what I imagine that would have been like, in the sense that I knew that it would be all I could do just to memorize what my lines were and get them down with authenticity and emphasis in the right places, so it sounded like I was speaking the right way. That would be hard enough. I just knew that it was not like I was gonna get all that down and then start fluently improvising. So I just kind of found moments: in reactions, non-verbal, physical things — like the moment where I help Genesis up on the horse, and the moment before that where I’m talking with Efren [Ramirez] and Adrian [Martinez] and I’m rolling the cigarette and we’re laughing. I couldn’t get the cigarette to work at all, everything was just spilling out and I just went with it.

Which became a running gag.

Yep. We just kept running with it, and finding these through lines; they were the things that were more improvised, as opposed to actual dialogue.

Will we ever see that missing reel of you wrestling with the white panther?

[Laughs] No. I don’t think there’ll be any wrestling. We always had that — the lost footage. The other character, the other kind of personality in the movie, is that it’s just bad. It’s a bad movie, so we wanted… we just knew we didn’t have the time or resources to choreograph a scene with a puppet panther.

Where did you find these puppets? There’s one taxidermy that looks like he was found on the side of a road.

The one that moves actually came from Henson.

The animatronic one?

Yeah. Those people were nice enough to want to be involved for very little money. [Laughs] And then Piedmont, he loves his set design and production design and finding strange taxidermy and things like that. Kevin Kavanaugh, the production designer, who’s actually an old friend from growing up in Orange County, he was so scrappy and innovative and he came up with a lot of that stuff. That set that Kevin built, of the lake, that’s one of the funniest moments to me — where Genesis is like, “It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen” and it just looks terrible.

It’s like a sound stage version of a sound stage set.

[Laughs] Right, right. That’s what I like about this movie.

But I like that it’s mixed with some quite impressive cinematography elsewhere.

Yes. And at times, the movie looks big and expensive, it’s crazy.

Since they’ve done several films together, did Gael and Diego come as some kind of package deal?

[Laughs] Yeah. I mean they’re good friends. I think they just talked to each other and were like, “Hey, we have such a history together on screen — let’s do this together and kind of make fun of that.” I think there were so many meta opportunities for them they were just, “Let’s do this.” [Laughs]

I get the impression that those guys are amusing, but I was surprised at how funny they really are in this.

You know, it’s funny: they’re pretty impressive guys, because they’re really funny in English — they’re sarcastic, you know; just when we talk in English they have a great sense of humor. It doesn’t surprise me, though, that they were funny, because they’re so committed. I always found that to be the case when I was on Saturday Night Live — the best hosts, a lot of the time, were the straight dramatic actors, ’cause they would just commit to scenes wholeheartedly without saying “Give me a funny line here.” They knew that if they just trusted the context it would play funny, and sure enough those were some of the funnier shows. These guys, they instinctively knew that as well.

Genesis plays it very straight, too — which makes her funny.

Yeah, I think so too. That scene on the horseback where she talks about her upbringing and living on the streets and everything like that, it’s just delivered so dramatically that it makes me laugh.

I read some talk that you and Adam [McKay] are working on a sequel to Step Brothers. Will that be your next project together, with him directing?

Yeah, I think so. In fact, I’m calling him right now, after this interview, to let him know that you’re the third or fourth journalist who’s said “Step Brothers 2 — come on.”

John C. Reilly will be back, I’m assuming.

Oh, absolutely. We already have a story beated out — it’s just a question of whether we can write it in time and get it ready for a certain slot in the fall, and that sort of thing.

I think seeing you in two together in the Tim and Eric movie whet the appetite again.

I know! John’s the best and I love working with him. We’re dying to do something again together.


Casa de mi Padre is in theaters this week.


Tag Cloud

theme song FOX scary Animation spain USA indie OneApp hist Acorn TV criterion Elton John series telelvision DC Universe cancelled Best Picture Creative Arts Emmys finale Interview The Arrangement fresh Trophy Talk young adult San Diego Comic-Con obi wan Mary Tyler Moore hispanic New York Comic Con award winner fast and furious nfl Freeform streaming 4/20 laika science fiction El Rey 2017 Grammys know your critic Sci-Fi gangster Amazon streaming movies franchise documentary posters all-time 90s TIFF 20th Century Fox Rock razzies scorecard zombie Turner Classic Movies Country HFPA Crunchyroll Song of Ice and Fire ABC Family ABC Signature spanish new york wonder woman binge Disney streaming service mutant 2021 Mindy Kaling blaxploitation miniseries Infographic transformers sports composers Spring TV royal family comedies critic resources cops Reality Competition IFC IFC Films south america feel good superhero 007 TCA Winter 2020 diversity SDCC medical drama renewed TV shows 2018 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards travel Super Bowl nature latino Arrowverse Western ratings Hallmark Christmas movies TV movies Sundance dark Universal Pictures golden globe awards canceled Neflix TV One SundanceTV vampires worst scary movies comic name the review Polls and Games Best Director halloween Paramount Network Captain marvel CMT Tumblr YouTube Red Shondaland Shudder joker Crackle Netflix cinemax rt archives Ghostbusters ESPN BBC WGN rom-coms Netflix Christmas movies monster movies Disney Channel Turner BBC One Heroines space cults Holiday breaking bad jamie lee curtis BBC America sitcom Pirates harry potter APB VH1 movies Nickelodeon historical drama 1990s Epix Marvel Trailer TV documentaries Superheroes italian Film heist movie Musical Superheroe olympics dreamworks Quiz blockbusters comiccon book versus stand-up comedy Hallmark Pop TV Spectrum Originals 45 Comic Book Pacific Islander ITV quibi supernatural Spike Emmy Nominations doctor who trailers Endgame nbcuniversal spanish language RT History CW Seed TCM Academy Awards Amazon Studios Pixar rt labs Watching Series TruTV cats Cosplay AMC Plus social media king kong genre Focus Features screenings streamig NYCC Anna Paquin slashers Thanksgiving Hear Us Out technology dc Starz ID 93rd Oscars Cannes Star Trek black comedy dragons Pet Sematary boxing Ovation king arthur zero dark thirty true crime natural history E3 Red Carpet 2019 First Reviews 94th Oscars australia Baby Yoda summer TV Awards Tour live event Funimation Lionsgate cancelled TV shows movie critics Pride Month Comedy prank leaderboard comics OWN TV renewals Fox News Bravo mockumentary legend crime hidden camera spinoff pirates of the caribbean dramedy Video Games MTV Marvel Television Sundance Now jurassic park Rocketman A24 Columbia Pictures hispanic heritage month Adult Swim History golden globes period drama Set visit halloween tv marvel cinematic universe 71st Emmy Awards FX on Hulu thriller CBS All Access reboot Lifetime Christmas movies casting Toys AMC Prime Video Fantasy anthology Film Festival elevated horror TCA 2017 Disney Tokyo Olympics Valentine's Day CBS mob docuseries hollywood Tomatazos art house dceu Podcast new star wars movies Extras police drama Wes Anderson concert See It Skip It kaiju teaser kids DC Comics American Society of Cinematographers aapi romance action-comedy zombies black YouTube LGBTQ comic book movies child's play FXX Avengers Cartoon Network Musicals SXSW 2022 PlayStation archives robots sag awards marvel comics summer preview Lucasfilm Election lord of the rings unscripted war video on demand spider-verse Women's History Month women a nightmare on elm street die hard Teen cancelled TV series toy story crime drama rotten Mary Poppins Returns docudrama ghosts Character Guide VICE Amazon Prime Video 2020 HBO Go adenture vs. CNN sopranos Esquire Walt Disney Pictures green book Winners Mary poppins GIFs Ellie Kemper screen actors guild TCA Awards popular Broadway obituary Apple anime strong female leads Classic Film christmas movies universal monsters scene in color suspense new zealand stop motion Fargo HBO Max DirecTV aliens VOD news BAFTA BET Awards ViacomCBS Christmas films NBA spider-man politics Opinion mcc Travel Channel Brie Larson saw Peacock festival Disney+ Disney Plus X-Men LGBT Warner Bros. Universal Certified Fresh President Paramount 2016 Nat Geo spy thriller video political drama Sneak Peek PBS cooking Black History Month Logo DC streaming service Television Academy Writers Guild of America Comics on TV Best Actress YouTube Premium Kids & Family Mystery The Walking Dead cancelled television Chernobyl A&E Hulu Instagram Live trophy Family MGM Tarantino emmy awards Action Summer tv talk twilight Masterpiece Fall TV japanese Biopics Best Actor Horror superman TLC Marathons Lifetime Mudbound Rocky james bond classics Premiere Dates animated game show First Look football Chilling Adventures of Sabrina broadcast WarnerMedia Rom-Com 79th Golden Globes Awards FX television RT21 serial killer justice league Oscar godzilla remakes IMDb TV blockbuster Amazon Prime BET 99% cartoon Marvel Studios Vudu foreign psycho 21st Century Fox toronto festivals DGA GoT independent The Purge disaster crime thriller worst movies Winter TV TCA Paramount Pictures Alien PaleyFest TNT Britbox cars live action National Geographic Sony Pictures reviews E! Star Wars Calendar crossover psychological thriller kong dogs rotten movies we love rt labs critics edition Tags: Comedy Photos Drama canceled TV shows Television Critics Association biopic comic books parents The Witch sequel batman Image Comics mission: impossible The Academy adventure GLAAD The CW Sundance TV Stephen King what to watch TBS witnail Awards international Countdown book adaptation NBC Year in Review YA Disney Plus South by Southwest Film Festival 2015 high school dexter boxoffice Apple TV Plus ABC richard e. Grant 73rd Emmy Awards comic book movie satire Dark Horse Comics MCU asian-american Tubi Emmys based on movie singing competition Best and Worst Reality 24 frames game of thrones TV Land Comedy Central Music Black Mirror Schedule discovery SXSW talk show japan USA Network facebook Hollywood Foreign Press Association romantic comedy children's TV best biography Legendary adaptation deadpool Showtime target 72 Emmy Awards sequels The Walt Disney Company Holidays basketball Pop Trivia Fox Searchlight Comic-Con@Home 2021 revenge Exclusive Video Apple TV+ summer TV preview Binge Guide Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Martial Arts slasher debate Nominations directors venice french HBO Food Network Syfy Discovery Channel free movies Paramount Plus indiana jones Oscars werewolf Box Office chucky stoner MSNBC