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Group Humor in Talladega Nights

Published August 2, 2006 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Columbia Pictures.
Talladega Nights Poster Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Will Ferrell is the main draw in any of his movies, but he’s always good at creating a comedy team. Think of the news crew of Anchorman or the frat boys of Old School. In Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Ferrell plays the title character, but allows his costars to create memorable supporting parts.

Ferrell, Duncan and Reilly TalkRicky Bobby


“Oh, that's very generous of me,” he joked. “I've always been a fan of the ensemble and we've always - Adam MacKay and I - been firm believers in that it's more fun to have a lot of funny characters than just one. That's the goal. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way, and that also takes the pressure off of the main character too. So it's a very sly plan.”

For his racing partner, Cal Naughton Jr., Ferrell cast longtime friend, actor John C. Reilly. Even though many of the Anchorman team returned for Talladega, Reilly found them form an entirely new group dynamic for this film.

“We all became a community really fast,” said Reilly. “Adam and Will both have a background in improv theater. Adam McKay started in Second City and Will at the Groundlings in LA, so they were great. They created the whole kind of vibe that we got going in the movie, with the improv, so it didn’t feel like I was coming into some strange group. It felt like we were forming a strange group.”



Michael Clarke Duncan, who plays the bit crew chief, had experienced cliques before, so he was wary. “When I was at Alcorn State playing basketball our starter five was so solid, and one day our coach put me in there and it was like four of them and me,” Duncan said. “I didn’t mesh with them at all. They all knew each other. They’d been playing with each other for four years so they all knew each other. When you get in there with John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell the first couple of words may be the script. After that it’s whatever they feel like doing. It was almost like jumping double Dutch. They were in it and they were going. Adam would say, ‘You gotta jump in.’ But, I’m thinking I don’t want to cut nobody’s line off. I come from the background where I’m sorry I stepped on your line. I won’t do that next take. But, they’re like ‘F the lines. Just say what you want to say. It’s all like this. It’s all confusion.’ So after about the third take I finally got it and I said, ‘Alright Mike you’ve just got to get in their. You just got to get in there and say something.’ So I finally got in there and got loose with them.”

Leslie Bibb kept up with the improv, but mostly appreciated the community between takes. “It’s so easy for actors to think they’re cooler if they’re unaccessible,” she said. “Or they’re cooler if they don’t act like a dork or they’re cooler if they say, ‘It doesn’t mean anything to me.’ And then I just think, ‘You’re not cool, you’re just a jerk.’ You just come off as a jackass. This set, this whole set, we were doing this setup, it was when we were doing the dinner scene. They were all outside. It was like this hour setup and I was inside talking to people and outside was Adam and Will and my agent and for an hour, just talked about comedy. You would see people have lunch with the crew. People just hung out. And I thought, ‘Wow, this is the way it should be. This is the way, like it should be this fun.’”

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby will be released to theatres this Friday, August 4th.

For the trailers, posters, early reviews, movie stills and movie info, go to the Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Columbia Pictures.
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