What Gets Will Ferrell Into the Christmas Spirit?

The actor, producer and comedian on his go-to joke, his ‘SNL’ days and his favorite thing about making ‘Elf’

PHOTO: ILLUSTRATION BY RYAN MCAMIS FOR WSJ. MAGAZINE

Nov. 22, 2022 8:30 am ET – Wall Street Journal

What’s the one habit you wish you could break?

Shoplifting.

Who’s the one person who makes you laugh the most?

This is probably going to be odd to some people but totally obvious to others: Lionel Richie.

Who’s the one person you call in a crisis?

Snoop Dogg.

What’s the one lesson you’ve learned as a parent?

Being a parent is a huge responsibility. You learn a lot of lessons. But the overriding lesson I’ve learned is that I hate children.

What one sentence best sums up your philosophy of life?

Winners win.

What’s the one joke that always gets a laugh?

How do you get a squirrel down from a tree? Pull down your pants and show him your nuts.

What one role or character would you like to go back to?

I would love to go back to a character that I had created on Saturday Night Live affectionately known as the Old Prospector.  

What’s the one most extreme thing you’ve done to prepare for a role?

Learning how to ice-skate while trying to lose 100 pounds [for Blades of Glory]. 

What’s the one thing you always have with you on set?

I always have my go bag. Yep, I’ve got a bunch of granola bars, a burner phone, some rope, duct tape, rattlesnake venom and a change of underwear. So…I’m just ready to go.

What’s the one word to describe what it was like working at SNL?

If I had to distill it down to one word, I would say luxurious.

What’s the one thing that keeps you motivated?

Money.

What’s the one most quotable line from one of your films?

One of the most quotable lines [from Blades of Glory] is: “We’re going to skate to one song and one song only: ‘Lady Humps.’ ”

What’s the one thing you loved most about making Elf?

I loved wearing yellow tights every single day.

What’s the one thing that gets you in the Christmas spirit?

Eggnog. I love a good cup of eggnog. Who doesn’t?

What’s the one funniest film of all time?

Coal Miner’s Daughter, starring Sissy Spacek.

What’s the one phone call that changed your life?

A couple weeks ago when I found out I’m a finalist for Publishers Clearing House. But I’m just a finalist. So, we’ll see if I get to collect the big check or not. 

What’s the one thing that people would be most surprised to learn about you?

That I’m left-handed. And that I speak a little bit of Swedish. Because my wife is Swedish, and we go to Sweden a lot and my children speak it. I mostly learned Swedish to make sure my family isn’t talking shit about me.

What’s the one famous movie line that you live by?

“Where’s the money, Lebowski?” From The Big Lebowski. Because I’m all about money. 

What’s the one thing you wish you had learned earlier in your career? 

That all the food on a movie set—the craft service—you don’t have to pay for. Because I would always leave like a hundred bucks a day to pay for [it], and no one ever told me it’s part of working on a movie set. The food is free. So, I wish someone had told me that.

What’s the one achievement you’re most proud of? 

I’m very proud of having been able to work in this business for however long it is. I don’t know how long. Five years? Anyway, to be a working actor, I’m proud of that. 

What’s the one thing in a script that sparks your interest? 

The one element I always look for in any sort of script or project is how much they’re going to pay me. 

What’s the one lesson you have learned from improv?

I’ve learned that you always have to listen in improv. Unless you don’t like the other person, and then I choose not to listen and I just do whatever I want to do. That applies to life also.

What’s the one thing you’d like to be remembered for? 

For my 42-inch vertical jump.

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