Met with mixed reviews and a love-it-or-hate-it response from audiences, the Will Ferrell-starring, Adam McKay-directed comedy "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" didn't make much of a splash when it was first released in 2004. Now, nearly 10 years later, the comedy has legions of fans, is one of the most quoted movies of the last decade, and is marking its hard-won success with a sequel: "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues." In the follow-up, venerable newsman Ron Burgundy confronts the future of television journalism, leaving San Diego with the Channel 4 News Team for a stint on the spankin' new, 24-hour cable news network, GNN, in New York City.
Gemma LaMana / Paramount
Everyone from the original cast is back. This time, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David, Koechner, Christina Applegate, and Ferrell are joined by some familiar faces. Harrison Ford, Kristen Wiig, Liam Neeson, James Marsden, and Meagan Good are just some of the names popping up in the sequel, not to mention the slew of actors in cameo roles. (We won't spoil them here; the Internet's done a pretty good job of that already.)
When we visited the set earlier this year, we had a chance to sit down with Ron Burgundy himself, Will Ferrell, and his partner in crime, director Adam McKay, to look back on the long journey to "Anchorman 2" and forward to what eager fans can expect when the sequel hits theaters December 20.
Here's what you need to know about "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues."
Don't Worry, There's a Prologue -- and It Includes Ron Burgundy Yelling at a Dolphin
In the unlikely event that you're taking an "Anchorman" virgin to the movie on opening weekend, McKay and Ferrell, who co-wrote the screenplay, have written a prologue to explain everything that's happened to Burgundy and his lady love, Veronica Corningstone, since they rode off into the co-anchor sunset. Although McKay wouldn't explain the reason why, Burgundy hits rock bottom in the prologue. And Ron Burgundy hitting rock bottom involves the news personality drunkenly shouting insults at a dolphin. "We tried to think of some lowest of the lows," McKay said, "and we thought being hammered during a dolphin show in 1979 was pretty bad."
Some Things Are Still a Bit Vague
When asked where the sequel would pick up, story-wise, Ferrell was decidedly cagey, "It is basically Ron Burgundy and his integration into the world of 24-hour news," he said. "And that's what I can tell you." Referencing the passage of time from the first movie, Ferrell added, "We never really said what year the first one was, so yes, it's definitely later." However, later during the set visit, McKay referred to the year 1979 as key to the movie's prologue. At least we know it's not a prequel.
The Gang's All Here
When it came time for the Channel 4 News Team to reunite, Ferrell admitted it was a bit easier for him to get back into the swing of things: "I've done Ron Burgundy occasionally, here and there; I've still walked in his shoes every now and then. The guys really haven't done [their characters] that much, so their first couple days of filming, they felt like they were walking on the moon, and they were like, 'I don't even remember what I'm supposed to do and say, and this feels off.' McKay seconded Ferrell's assessment, adding, "The first day or two was kind of weird. It was like, 'Oh my god, we're all getting used to it.' And then, as soon as they slipped into the character it was immediate -- like, [Carell] kept saying, "I don't feel like I'm getting under Brick." And I was like, "You seem instantly like Brick."
The Channel 4 News Team Is Still Horrible at Accepting Change
"I think the beauty of Ron Burgundy is he's not very good at change," Ferrell revealed. "So, once again, it's very difficult for him. And yet it's justified because [the 24-hour news channels] literally just needed more bodies. They had to hire so many people, a massive group of people, at one time, to be on around the clock; that's why he and his news team are on at two in the morning. And, of course, they are horribly upset by that. Really, his ego is really bruised."
Not All of the Cameos Were Leaked
Despite the presence of paparazzi and fans with smartphones throughout filming, the movie's story and the long list of celebrities making cameos weren't completely divulged. And we have the budget-conscious production to thank for that. "...Somehow, I think we've been able to keep, for the most part, 80% of what's going to happen under wraps," Ferrell asserted. "That was one of the benefits of shooting in Atlanta. We originally wanted to shoot the whole movie in New York, and for budget reasons it just made more sense. And the four days we shot in New York, crazy crowds turned out and we realized that was blessing to shoot down there, to shoot most of the movie without anyone knowing what we were doing."
They Never Intended to Make a Sequel
Ferrell and McKay aren't fans of revisiting movies they've already made, so we can count our blessings for "Anchorman 2." "We just thought, Why not explore a brand-new idea as opposed to revisiting something you've already made?" Ferrell revealed. "So, that kind of kept us from even thinking about it. And then, I don't know what kind of chipped away at it, but I think we just started saying casually, 'Well, if there's one we would make a sequel to, it would probably be "Anchorman," but we're still never going to make a sequel.' And I think just something clicked where, Why not? Why not do it? Those guys get to make six 'Ocean's 11' and no one seems to beat them up for it, so come on! We can make a sequel!"
The 'Stache Wasn't Welcome in the Ferrell Household
While Ron Burgundy wouldn't be caught dead without his trademark facial hair, Ferrell had no problems saying goodbye to his moustache: "It's been a burden on my family. Everyone hates it. It's like the texture of horsehair, so it's very itchy. My children are really ready for it to be gone."
Baxter Has the Biggest Ego
A lot can change in ten years, including the size of egos. As a result, Baxter, Burgundy's trusted canine companion, has become kind of a big deal. Ferrell joked that he's become "horribly demanding," adding that he had "three separate trailers" on the set and "makes extravagant demands" that "almost cost us the entire shoot."
Don't Expect a Lot of Historical Accuracy
Like the first movie, "Anchorman 2" is vague about the era in which it is set and takes a lot of liberties when it comes to portraying whatever point in time it's supposed to reflect (Late '70s? Early '80s?). The same can be said of the subject matter: cable news. "You know, as usually is the case, we do a little bit of research prior to writing and then we throw it all away and then really don't talk to anyone," Ferrell joked. Well, it's not a historical drama, after all.
Expect a Bigger, Crazier, More In-Your-Face Ron Burgundy & Co.
"This one is definitely more ambitious," McKay said, when asked about how this movie would be different from the first. "There's more production value to it. I think we got greedy on this one. We had a certain amount of days, and we were just like, 'Let's shoot everything.' And it's made it kind of tiring, the whole process, like every day is just chock full of stuff, whereas on the first one you'd have days where you'd be in an office and you'd just be talking. So, this day is just like every day: a big greedy gulp of comedy."
There Will Be Outtakes. Lots of Outtakes.
Director McKay's style of filmmaking is to feed lines to his actors, having them do take after take of the same scene with different comedic punches. That's no different in "Anchorman 2," as McKay attested, "Not only do we get so many different lines... It's that we were so kind of greedy with every day, and we got so much stuff too, so many different sets, looks, and kind of angles on this movie. Totally different locations and actors. That's going to be the tricky part. I'm just kind of dreading the day they tell me what the rough assembly time is, and I'm like, 'Please be less than three-and-a-half hours.' I think we want to make 95 minutes of great comedy, maybe 140 if we get really lucky."
Harrison Ford Needed Some Time to Adjust to McKay's Directing Style
Feeding an actor fifteen different lines for the same scene is hardly traditional, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Harrison Ford experienced a bit of learning when he showed up on the set. "Harrison Ford was a little confused by [my directing style]. He was like, 'What?' when I would yell them out. Then he kind of dug it. Then he was like, 'This is crazy,' and he kind of had fun with it. And then he started liking it and adding his own. So, in the beginning, he was like, 'What the hell are you guys doing?' and then, by the end, he kind of loved it. Sam Jackson was like that on 'The Other Guys' too. Initially, he was like, 'What are you saying?' Then, by the end, he was like, 'I got another line!'
'Ron Burgundy 2.5' Has Been Discussed
As McKay put it, "Will and I discussed the idea of doing 'Ron Burgundy 2.5' after ['Anchorman 2']. We had a whole idea for a movie where, in the middle of this movie, he was going to get stuck in an elevator. So you were going to see a scene where he leaves. And [someone says], 'What did you do this weekend?' And he goes, 'Don't ask me about it.' And then we were going to do a kind of half-sequel that was what happened to him that weekend, and it's him stuck in an elevator. And we really were going to write it and shoot it, and we realized this one was such a bear that we were like, 'We're crazy. It would take us two weeks to write that script, minimum.'" We'd totally pay to see that.
There's a Big Surprise. Huge.
McKay accidentally let slip one big piece of the "Anchorman 2" plot, and it's a doozy. But you'll have to see the movie to find out what it is, because we're sworn to secrecy. Plus, we don't like the thought of being maced with Sex Panther.
"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" hits theaters December 20.
categories Holiday Movies