Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - Steve Carell and Paul Rudd interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
STEVE Carell and Paul Rudd talk about the joy of revisiting Brick and Brian in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and why they were actually surprised when the sequel happened.
They both also reminisce about the ’80s (and fashion and music choices), while also discussing what it was like to shoot one of the film’s more cameo-laden sequences…
Q. Paul, are you taking on a new career as an underwear model by any chance?
Paul Rudd: [Pauses] Nobody’s offered.
Q. I’m surprised…
Paul Rudd: I don’t think I’d be good. I would not sell any pairs.
Q. You should invent your own line…
Paul Rudd: My own line?
Steve Carell: Just have ‘Rudd’ across the back.
Paul Rudd: Rudds? I like your Rudds [laughs]!
Q. How was it returning to these characters after so long? Did it come easily again?
Steve Carell: They did. We talked about this. It was kind of emotional when we all first put on our stuff and looked at each other because it had been so long since we’d been in these characters. You rarely get the chance to revisit a character like that and see your buddies dressed up. It was almost like going to a costume party that day. We were just excited and kind of giddy about it. The first week was a little touch and go for me, only because I didn’t want to do an impression of what I had done the first time. And I wanted it to feel the same but not laboured in any way. So, I kept asking Adam [McKay, director]: “Is that it? Was that OK? Is that kind of where the first one was?” And these guys were doing the same thing. But it all just seemed exactly the same. The characters seemed right on from day one.
Q. Was it a big scene the first day or did they ease you back in?
Paul Rudd: It was different for all of us. The first scene that I did was actually the underwear thing. That was the very first shot that I had and I was like: “Oh right, let’s hit the ground running.” The first scene that all four of us did together was in the Winnebago, and that was really cool. It was really cool decision to sit there and catch up as characters was the perfec thing to do because the enthusiasm was genuine. It was really kind of…. it felt right. The gang was back together and that’s how I was feeling.
Q. Did you ever think it might never happen?
Paul Rudd: Oh sure.
Steve Carell: It was a surprise that it did happen. When the movie first came out it wasn’t a hit. It didn’t warrant a sequel. So, it was only after so many years that there was even a consideration of that happening. And then I don’t think the studio was necessarily that interested because I don’t think financially it made sense to them. Will [Ferrell] and Adam approached them with various ideas, one of which was a musical version.
Paul Rudd: On Broadway.
Steve Carell: We would write a musical, take it to Broadway, perform that for six months or so and then segue way into shooting a film after that. So, that was the original pitch and they could not have been less interested.
Q. Would you have done that?
Paul Rudd: Oh yeah, we were all on board.
Steve Carell: We all said yeah.
Q. They’re doing Little Miss Sunshine now…
Steve Carell: Yeah, Little Miss Sunshine is going to be a musical, Dan In Real Life is going to be a musical and Get Smart is going to be a musical [laughs]. Not really.
Q. How about your films, Paul, would you like to see one of yours turned into a musical?
Paul Rudd: You know I’ve heard for years that they’re trying to do a Clueless musical. They did it with Legally Blonde. But we’ll see if it ever happens.
Q. So, they were going to do a musical but Paramount said ‘no’?
Steve Carell: They said that’s lovely but no.
Paul Rudd: It was probably for the best. This was before Book of Mormon. It was years ago. But I think those guys [Will and Adam] saw that play and realised it took a lot more work than what they had been doing [laughs]. But it had happened several times over the eight or nine years where it looked like we were getting close, where it was a possibility, and then it just went away. So, it wasn’t on any of our radars. And then when it finally happened it happened quickly. We found out about it not that long before Will announced it, so it was kind of surprising.
Q. How was shooting the big gang battle with all the cameos? Did they attempt to keep it under wraps or were people watching?
Steve Carell: They tried to keep it as under wraps as they could. The paparazzi took some shots of some of the cameos. But they did a really good job of keeping it under wraps generally.
Paul Rudd: We shot it in Atlanta, which was ultimately a good thing. I mean we also shot it in New York but we had one shot in New York where we were outside and it was really tricky. I think it would have been harder to shoot in New York because of the crowds and the traffic.
Q. Wasn’t there a moment where you were all at the same airport?
Steve Carell: Yeah, Paul was flying back East and Will and David and I were all flying back to the West Coast and we all kind of met at the airport.
Q. What kind of reaction did that generate?
Steve Carell: There were a few double takes at the sight of the news team walking through an airport out of character with their baggage. But I mean frankly the entire press junket has been that as well, the four of us with backpacks slung over our back walking shoulder to shoulder through airports. It’s kind of funny.
Paul Rudd: The best one involved the guys who take your tickets. They’re just so bored. But you’d give them your passport and they’d look at the name, and we’d all be in line, and suddenly it would register [motions checking passports and realising who was in front of him] and it would be “oh man”! It’s so fun to see someone legitimately excited about it and animated about it. They’re like: “What are you all doing here?” We were very excited to come here and talk about all this stuff. We really do get on very well. So, one of the reasons we wanted to do a sequel was just from a personal standpoint of getting to work with one another again and getting to hang out with each other again. It’s been great to do it [the press trip] as a group.
Q. Were you sad when it came to the last day of filming? Were there any tears?
Steve Carell: I wouldn’t say tears but it was sad. We were happy to have done it but sad that it was ending.
Q. What are your respective memories of the ‘80s? Did you have a perm in the ‘80s?
Steve Carell: No, not on my head [laughs].
Paul Rudd: You permed your legs.
Steve Carell: [Laughs out loud] I permed my leg hair!
Paul Rudd: It’s hard to do! Very hard to do!
Steve Carell: And do you know what? I won so many tennis matches just because of that. People were so astounded.
Paul Rudd: I didn’t have to perm my hair in the ‘80s because as soon as puberty hit me my hair just went pring – it was everything. I was spotty, I had curly hair, and I really fought it. I was used to going with the kind of feathered back Colt 45 look. And so I would fight it with the hairdryer and it looked horrible.
Steve Carell: I had a moustache from high school through a good part of college.
Paul Rudd: I remember those pictures of you…
Steve Carell: I grew a moustache in high school because I thought it made me look more formidable as an athlete. I thought it looked more intimidating.
Paul Rudd: The high school moustache is a bold choice! The ironic moustache didn’t exist back then.
Steve Carell: But I could grow a moustache in high school.
Paul Rudd: Did any of the other kids have a moustache in high school?
Steve Carell: I think there was one or two. One girl… one junior.
Q. And what about ‘80s culture? Were you into the music?
Paul Rudd: I was into anything with a synthesizer. If it had a guitar I didn’t want to hear it.
Steve Carell: You were a Thomas Dolby fan?
Paul Rudd: I was a Depeche Mode fanatic. And Yaz and Blancmange, Ultravox and Howard Jones. I liked synth pop and I was really into new wave everything. And then I got really into The Smiths and REM. That’s when the guitar emerged and I said: “Wait a minute! Hold on! This sounds pretty great!”
Q. Did you play any instruments of your own?
Paul Rudd: I didn’t learn any of it. It just seemed too hard. But then I got to a point where I was like: “Oh my God, why didn’t I take piano lessons and guitar lessons when I was a kid? Now I can’t, I’m 15.” And I liked fashion. I liked the ‘80s fashion. I embraced it whole-heartedly. I remember – and I was living in the Mid West, in Kansas City, where it wasn’t the easiest to get your hands on the latest fashions – going over to y friend, Jeff’s house after school. I just assumed that everybody loved the way that I dressed because none of the other kids dressed the way I dressed. I dressed really fashionably. And I had on this outfit – black pleated pants…. there also might have been pleats in the ass, which is an interesting statement, and a black shirt with grey sleeves, a pink tie, pink piping on all of the seams, pink socks and black dress shoes. I looked great and Jeff’s mum said: “You look amazing! I love your outfit!” I thanked her and she said: “Did you wear that to school today?” And I said ‘yeah’ and she said: “Was it space day?”
Q. Did you carry on wearing it anyway?
Paul Rudd: Jeff laughed and I remember thinking: “What is space day?”
Steve Carell: Did you back off of the pink piping after that?
Paul Rudd: No. I remember I wore my mum’s gold pants [laughs].
Q. I remember you saying that you have previously tried out some of your voices on family members. Did you do that with Brick’s?
Steve Carell: No, I did that for some animated stuff. But my kids just saw the first Anchorman two months ago and they loved it. They got the silliness of it. And they certainly loved the idea of Brick, that he was a sort of counter-intuitive guy as I like to call him. But I generally don’t bring that stuff home, even with my wife. I’ll tell my wife funny stuff that happened, like Paul said this line today. But I also don’t want to spoil too much for her when she goes and sees the movie. She kind of wants to see it fresh. She hasn’t seen this one yet.
Q. Is there any point when improvising that you fear you’ve gone too far?
Paul Rudd: There were certain things that we would say that we knew were taking it too far and that they wouldn’t make it into the movie. But we still said them. And sometimes… I think the most important thing if you’re going to be working this way, that all of us feel that it’s a safe enough place where all of us feel you can go where you need to go. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to use all of it. Nine tenths of the stuff you’re not going to use. And most of it won’t work. But if you start to limit yourself in some way, you don’t want to feel handcuffed.
Q. Do you have friends who work in television journalism?
Paul Rudd: I know some people that do and I feel as if news journalists and anchors have a special kind of relationship with this movie. Whenever we go to talk to any kind of news outlet, inevitably they’ll tell us: “We have a Ron here.” Or: “He’s our Brick.” Or: “He’s our Champ.” It’s also been interesting to see it evolve because when the first one came out, some people really liked it but I remember from other news anchors that they weren’t so keen on it. It was more like: “Nice try but it’s not what it’s really like.” I remember one person said: “You really missed an opportunity to really satirise something that could use some satirising.” But it was such a… when I read the script for the first Anchorman I remember thinking this was the funniest, craziest movie and you just don’t see things like this. It’s so different from most of the comedies that were being made. So, I think part of the reason that the burn happened slowly for this movie was that people were asking: “What is this?” And then it wasn’t until repeated viewings, when you watched it on cable that you started to understand the tone of the movie because you’re a little more familiar with it.
Steve Carell: And actually a lot of the journalists this time have taken an active part in promoting the second movie. They’ve jumped on the bandwagon and are weighing in and doing bits with Will. So, there’s a definite crossing of reality with fiction in this.