Q&A with Will Ferrell
The goofy comedian and dad of three stars as the evil genius in Megamind, in theaters November 5.
Parent & Child: How did you prepare for your role as Megamind, alien supervillain?
Ferrell: I tried doing little mean things — like backing my car into another in the parking lot, petty shoplifting, things like that. Just kidding! Actually, Megamind isn’t really that evil. He’s a sweet character who needs constant reassurance, so it wasn’t really out of my wheelhouse.
P&C: Do your kids (6, 3, and nearly 1) think you’re funny?
Ferrell: I know how to make them laugh, but they can be a pretty tough audience at times. I’m looking forward to being an embarrassing dad when they get older. I’ve already started planning for that.
P&C: Do they think it’s cool that you get to be the bad guy in Megamind?
Ferrell: Yeah. This is the first movie I’ve done that they’re actually interested in. I brought home some Megamind comics and they were like, “What?! You’re going to be that guy?” It’ll be fun to see their reactions to this.
P&C: With three wee ones, do you have any parenting advice for our readers?
Ferrell: Enjoy the little fun things — like taking your kids to school — before they’re all grown up. That, and get them working out early. Buy a little home gym set for your 3-year-old. Start with the triceps, and the rest should fall into place.
P&C: What were you like as a kid? Have you always been the funny guy in the room?
Ferrell: I was kind of a serious kid in a way. I didn’t really learn to make my friends laugh until later down the road. My dad is a musician, so I saw the ups and downs of the entertainment world and how unstable that could be. One of my first memories of being a kid was, “I want to have a real job when I grow up.” And to me that meant you wear a suit and a hat and carry a briefcase and go to your job. Then once I got into grade school, I learned, oh, humor was a way to make friends. Even with realizing I had a knack for being funny, I still wasn’t a class clown. I was a really good student. I was a little under the radar.
P&C: Do you draw inspiration from your own kids, not only for Megamind, but with your other work?
Ferrell: They’re still pretty little, but yeah — in The Other Guys, there were moments where my character was super petulant. I stole a couple times from my two oldest sons, who are 6 and 3. Little mannerisms and things like that. I’ve had friends of mine say when they watch the movie, “Oh you reminded me of Magnus [oldest son, 6] when you did such and such a scene.” That was the first time where I remembered their behavior and applied it to what I was doing.
P&C: How has working on Megamind been different from your other projects?
Ferrell: I hadn’t really done one of these types of movies. Dreamworks and Pixar make these movies that have an impact. There’s a ton of thought and work that goes into these. So that was an opportunity I wanted to take advantage of. I look for things that seem new and interesting, but at the same time, there’s that part of the audience that wants you to do the thing you’re known for doing. I don’t know if you owe the audience that, but even that is still fun to do, too. I guess it’s trying to find that balance.
P&C: What do you love about your job?
Ferrell: I love that it’s literally, from project to project, completely different. It literally is a dream job. It is something that you dream about doing as a kid. I don’t have that story of knowing when I was 5 years old that I wanted to do comedy. I had a nagging suspicion, but I thought it wasn’t realistic. Then it just wouldn’t go away. By the time I graduated college, I thought I’d better give it a shot — otherwise I’ll always wonder. And that makes you love your job even more. That I’m truly getting to do the thing I love the most. Getting to make people laugh — a lot of these movies and projects and sketches keep living on in a way.
Tom Booth is the editorial assistant for Scholastic Parent & Child.