Will Ferrell interview
Land of the Lost star talk us through time
With the DVD release of Land of the Lost imminent, Will Ferrell explains his role in this fast-paced, action adventure comedy.
You have talked before about being a fan of the old TV show, Land of the Lost. What did you like so much about it?
Will Ferrell: I liked it because it was such a break from the regiment of Saturday morning cartoons. Here was this live action show with a dad and his two kids. They had this world of dinosaurs and Sleestaks and half-man/half-ape creatures and it took itself seriously in a dark and spooky way. It was dangerous at times and you really felt that you were going on this adventure with each episode. It raised the bar to what they thought the intelligence level of a kid would be. The show didn’t take it for granted and that is what I loved about it.
So what did you see in the project that would now make a big theatrical movie?
WF: When we first talked about doing it, we thought it presented a unique combination of this television show that was odd and quirky. It had this cult following, but wasn’t so popular that we had to pay off every little thing. We pay homage to it but are allowed to have our own unique story. We have our own adventure film.
Was it important to change the dynamic from a father and his two kids to three adults who initially don’t know each other?
WF: It was important because that aspect set the story in a more traditional family film. That was important but we wanted to be more edgy and yet kids would still be available to it. We wanted to give our brand of humour an opportunity to come out of this situation, and by having Holly and Will be adults we were allowed to do that.
We have had journeys to the centre of the earth and trips to outer space. What is it about this alternative world or these other places that intrigue us?
WF: I think it is the classic ultimate version of escapism. There is a part of us that likes the part that is fun and silly, but also: what if? What if we could go back and forth in time? There probably isn’t a way, but what if? I think it gives people hope that there is still an exploration out there of the unknown.
Your character, Dr Rick Marshall, is a man with quite a scientific knowledge. How closely do you share that mindset?
WF: Probably relatively average in what I find interesting. I like National Geographic and love the great outdoors, but that is about all in that regard.
So if you were given an opportunity to travel into this lost time, what would be interesting for you?
WF: I have always had this curiosity of what it would be like to walk amongst the creatures that roamed the Earth for millions of years. Many people forget that they [dinosaurs] dominated the planet for hundreds of millions of years. How long has man been here? Five thousand years or so? We are a speck when you come to think of it. They were the dominant species and so it would be fascinating to think how humans would survive during that time. Without our modern technological inventions, we wouldn’t stand a ghost of a chance back then.
You did have a cinematic opportunity to walk amongst the dinosaurs, but you had to do it a bit more creatively. How was it for you to have a tennis ball as a co-star?
WF: It was a whole different thing. The problem was having the forethought of what I can do. I soon realized that the special effects team could adjust to me so I just went with what they were telling me. [Director] Brad Silberling kept all the blue screen stuff to the last weeks of shooting so we had the chance to work on this huge dramatic set. That was helpful because we could see and interact with the actual environment. The locations were amazing.
That was a pretty nasty and aggressive dinosaur as well. What was great about it that he actually had a personality.
WF: We haven’t seen a creature with a major vendetta against a main character before. Maybe Jaws a little bit, but we never saw Jaws react.
You were required to be quite physical in this movie; swinging from vines to running through the desert. What really pushed your limits?
WF: When I get picked up by Grumpy and thrown around when he grabs my backpack; that was intense. They yanked me about 75 feet up in the air and I was thrashed around and then released. We did that in one take. My poor stunt guy had to do it twenty times for the camera angles and rehearsals and I was amazed how he could do it. I only had to do it once. Also the running around with my dress shoes, Florsheim zipper boots. I thought I was being careful, but I actually sprained my ankle.
You mentioned Brad before. What does he bring to your game of comedy?
WF: Brad is a director who has done so many different types of films. He has done big films and small films and comedy films and effects films. He can shoot any type of movie he wants to. He is that steady hand when we first talked to him about the movie. When he first pitched himself, he explained what his vision was of the film, but then added that if we don’t pick him, there were certain soundstages at Universal that we should utilize for our filming because they would be the most beneficial for our sets. He also told me what type of cameras we should use. He had it all mapped out in his head. We did meet other directors that had comedy experience or action experience but Brad had both. He was super organized and told us that he was more than willing to throw out his daily game plan if we had a better idea for the day. It was a really good marriage.
You seem to be fearless when it comes to comedy. Do you have any boundaries? Are you willing to do anything needed for a laugh?
WF: It is our job as people in comedy to kind of explore that. When I first started doing sketch comedy, I promised myself that if I were ever to have any success in this business, I wouldn’t hold back. Why get there and play it safe? It doesn’t make sense so I am just staying true to that commitment. When you look at someone like Sacha Baron Cohen, you have to really respect the boundaries he is pushing as Bruno or Borat. That is even more admirable then what I am doing.
Is it important for you to improvise on set?
WF: I think it is foolish not to when you have actors who can do it. Why not take advantage of those actors who have that ability. It gives you a whole new level of writing. You don’t have to use it. I am amazed that there are those who are fearful of it or feel that it steps on their vision of what a movie should be. Why not use every tool available?
What do you hope audiences get from this movie?
WF: I hope it is a movie that is surprising to people. I want them to have a good time but I think they will enjoy the specifics of what we added. This is not just a big commercial movie. There are little touches that people will not expect. I want people to have a good time and I think they will laugh.
Land of the Lost (15) (Universal) is available on DVD and Blu-ray form 23 Nov.