What other A-list comedy team would walk into interviews bearing a gigantic bowl of salad to share with journalists? That would be Step Brothers stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly and director Adam McKay (reuniting from Talladega Nights), who magnanimously offered the chilled bowl of leafy greens to reporters.
“If anyone feels hungry during this time, you can grab handfuls. It’s my famous Kansas City Chopped Salad,” explained Ferrell, who had an even bigger announcement than the debut of their film. “I’m coming out with a cookbook, mostly on salads.” Pause. “It’s a terrible cookbook, actually.” That was no reflection on the salad, however, as Ferrell had swiped the bowl from the lunch buffet at the Four Seasons.
And that pretty much set the tone for the chat that followed.
Hollywood.com: Do you have siblings and what did you do to them when you were growing up?
Reilly: I do have brothers and sisters and a lot of things depicted in the movie are things that happened or I witnessed.
Ferrell: The drum set, right?
Reilly: The drum set was one of them, yeah. Although I haven’t talked to my brother yet about it [laughs]. I have to get around to that.
Ferrell: The incident didn’t happen?
Reilly: No I was never caught but I was accused of nicking drumsticks. Things were touched when I wasn’t there, but it never turned into the brawl in the front yard with the hose on us.
HW: Was any genitalia placed on other’s belongings, as in the film?
McKay: Will actually had a brother who had a beloved fish tank. He was accused of playing with it and messing with it and then he rubbed his nutsack on the fish tank. There’s a little bit of truth to it.
Ferrell: And on the fish. We spared no expense.
McKay: We flew in genitalia actors and experts. There’s a guy named Matty Terroff. We brought him in with his team.
Ferrell: He’s one of the world’s best.
McKay: We spent $3.4 million on that nutsack and the nutsack team, body doubles, special lighting that catches hairs on testicles. That part of the movie took 8 days.
Reilly: That’s who designed the ballsack. The guy who constructed it is a guy named Guiseppi Jordo, who did the balls in a lot of big classic movies. He did Rock Hudson in Giant, he did his balls. A real Hollywood craftsman kind of guy.
Ferrell: It was cool because we got to see the new and the old meet together. There were screen tests for the nutsack.
Reilly: I got up close to the nutsack. It was a beautiful strawberry blond.
HW: Was there a nutsack wrangler?
Ferrell: They were part of the team.
McKay: A very aggressive gentleman, wouldn’t let anyone within yards of it. That’s my CB handle: “Nutsack Wrangler.”
Reilly: Remember how nervous people were around the dogs? We had to have the dogs on the set the same day as the nutsack. He was like “Whoa, whoa, whoa – get away from my nuts.”
McKay: We had two nutsacks, each at a cost of $400,000. One of the dogs ate one of them.
Reilly: They eventually passed. They were made out of silicon.
HW: When is the right time for someone to leave home?
Reilly: I was officially allowed to leave when I was 18. But had a job when I was 12. I did. I had a part time job when I was 12 – illegally. I was a dishwasher at this restaurant and they would wait for me to finish, an Eastern European restaurant on the south side of Chicago, and they’d wait for me to get there so the entire day’s dishes. I’d get there after school and the whole kitchen would be full of dishes. I was like their little slave.
Ferrell: When did I leave? In terms of leaving I left home for college, and then I immediately moved back home, and lived at home for three years, so I guess that part is taken from my life. I think kids should move out of the house when they feel ready. For some, that’s a 5-year-old child – they’re ready. For others it’s a 52-year-old man.
Reilly: I have a 6-year-old who’s got a part time job.
Ferrell: And I have a Korean half-son who’s 68-years-old. It’s tough to budge him, to wake him up.
Reilly: And you don’t speak Korean.
Ferrell: I don’t speak Korean. He also suffers from sleep apnea, so it’s very hard to wake him up.
McKay: We have a dead uncle who still lives with us. He never moved out. He’s stopped being a burden but he still lives with us, though. Parks himself in front of the TV.
Ferrell: We had so much fun working on Talladega Nights, the three of us, and we really kind of made a pact, a blood pact, to work on something else together, and I think it was John who was really the catalyst, who said “Let’s really make a concerted effort.” You work on films with people, you have fun experiences, and then you say let’s do it again and it slips through your fingers, so we really made a point to sit down and meet. I think we had a couple of dinners where threw out a bunch of different ideas and had some really good ones. And it was Adam who called both of us the next day, and said “I just thought of this other thing: What if you guys are two 40-year-old guys who live with your single parent? They meet each other, get married and you’re forced to be stepbrothers.” We both were like “That’s the idea.”
McKay: Then we looked into it and found there’s a real dynamic going on, that it’s like the increase of adult children living at home has gone up drastically in the last 10 years. Oh my God, this is actually real. I think that it’s since 1995 it has gone up 70 percent, adults living at home. So that made it a little bit more legitimate.
HW: Unlike your last film together this one’s R rated.
McKay: We were just tired of doing the PG-13 jump-through-the-hoops kind of thing. We just wanted to speak freely.
Reilly: And make swears. We wanted to be able to make swears.
McKay: We decided it was R even before the nutsack came into play.
Reilly: It wasn’t like we were deliberately trying to be R-rated. We just didn’t want to have constraints. We know how creative it gets when you start improvising and coming up with ideas. We just wanted to feel like it could be anything we wanted it to be.
McKay: Whether it was nutsacks…
Ferrell: Or the word, “fuck.” A lot.
HW: This movie features the finest collection of random logo t-shirts ever assembled on screen.
McKay: I have to give it up to our costume designer Susan Matheson. She went above and beyond. She just looked like everywhere and came with hundreds of tee shirts and it became like this whittling down process, which almost got absurd. I would get called into her office every two days to take the number from 80 to 60 and then Will would go in and take the number from 60 to 50 and then John would look at his. I think more time spent was spent on the tee shirts than the actual production of the movie.
Reilly: You want to do retro-seeming t-shirts, like these are the t-shirts they’ve been wearing since that time. But the fashion now is to have old-looking t-shirts and we didn’t want it to look hipster-ish. She ended up custom-making a lot of stuff. So those pajama bottoms for Will were made out of Star Wars sheets.
McKay: John wanted to be in his underwear at one point and there was a big debate. The tighty-whitey joke has been played out, its been done too many times, so Susan went and found the colored tighties which we decided had not been done, so you could get away with that.
Ferrell: Pablo Cruise has seen one of the t-shirts in a trailer and wants to play at the premiere, which I know the studio is excited about, as kids love Pablo Cruise.
McKay: It’s an event. They’re concerned about too many helicopters over the premiere party.
Reilly: Talk about a family bond, I was sitting with Richard and he’s from the Chicago area like I am. I mentioned to him that my dad was in the linen business and he went, “The linen business?” And we were almost done with the movie at that point. He’s like what’s your dad’s name? John Reilly? I worked for your father!! We had this crazy moment where he realized he met me when I was 4 years old. He helped my dad put his boat into some lake in Wisconsin. He worked for him for a summer. Mary was just a delight. Anytime you get to hang out with Mary Steenburgen…
McKay: She’s so cool because she’s not what you think she’s going to be. She seems so sweet. She’s got a salty mouth. She curses nonstop. She’s like “I have seven tattoos.” And you realize she’s covered in tattoos.
Reilly: A lot of makeup.
McKay: A lot of makeup and she keeps a little hip flask at all times. She’s much different than you think. She doesn’t get along with other women. She’s like “Get that bitch outta here!” She’s a handful.
Ferrell: A lovable handful.
Reilly: Those guys were really good sports about the improv. Neither of them had as much experience as us.
Ferrell: And I think it gives the whole premise validity that you have two great actors like that who are basically putting up with our shenanigans, yet being quite vulnerable about the fact that they can’t quite let go of these kids.
McKay: It’s really kind of their movie, if you look at it. There really is a love story of these two people who just want to be together and these guys just won’t let it happen the entire time. It’s their story in the end. They learn to accept it. Richard Jenkins blew us away. Mary’s amazing.
Reilly: One of the most graceful, witty, lovely people. She had the best manners. But then you get her to say a swear word and it’s really funny.
HW: Will, next up for you is Land of the Lost.
Ferrell: We had a great time on the film. I think it’s a great blend of paying homage to the show mixed with being a different genre, this kind of adventure comedy where we use the adventure to set up the comedy, and we were able to comment on these situations that you’d love to see characters comment on.
Reilly: Land of the Lost was–
Ferrell: You weren’t in it!
Reilly: Can I just say “Sleestack?”
Ferrell: We did ClayMation. Remember Davey & Goliath? And a lot of tin foil. I would sculpt dinosaur models out of tinfoil. So Universal’s pissed right now to be honest. They don’t like what they’re seeing.
McKay: I’m going to do another movie first, but we’re going to do Anchorman 2 in a year and a half or two years.
Reilly: Anchorman 2 and 3. You’re going to film at the same time.
Ferrell: In New Zealand.
Reilly: Peter Jackson’s co-directing it.
Ferrell: There’s still a lot of salad here. No one’s touched it.