“Comedy is built on surprise,” Anchorman director and comedy legend Adam McKay tells Rolling Stone. “So sequels are hard. We didn’t want to repeat ourselves.” So how did Will Ferrell and Co. actually get their heads around the most anticipated follow-up in comedy history? Contributing editor Jonah Weiner went behind the scenes on the set of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues for a first-hand look at just how many masturbation jokes went into the production of the most buzzed-about sequel in comedy history. (The answer: Too many to recount here, some involving Mrs. Butterworth.) For a peek at the hilarity that went down at our cover shoot, watch Ferrell at his Ron Burgundy-est in the video below.
“The difference with this one is I’m aware that people are watching us,” Anchorman co-star Paul Rudd says. “The first one, no one cared.” People care so much about Anchorman, its stars reveal, that public opinion actually helped nudge the crew into making the second film. Ferrell and McKay say they first got the idea to make Anchorman 2 six years ago, but were hesitant because most comedy sequels just plain suck. “The second Austin Powers is pretty damn good, and Wayne’s World 2 is a lot of fun,” McKay says. “Men in Black is one of my all-time favorites, but MIB II was pretty tough.”
But the Anchorman crew ended up with so much A-plus material, McKay considered splitting up the gold into two films. “I’m like, ‘Holy shit, man — we might have two movies here,'” he says. He weighed the option, and also mused about releasing the full version twice, featuring the same story line but told with “241 entirely different jokes.”
Still, Ferrell is keeping his expectations in check. “Anyone in comedy who says they knew something was gonna work is full of shit,” he tells us. “I want to keep making things where, potentially, I do turn off part of the audience. Because the percentage that’s going, ‘I can’t believe this is happening, and I love it’ — that’s what I gravitate toward.”
Look for the issue on stands and in the iTunes App Store this Friday, December 6th.