As two of the funniest actors working today, Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell have certainly crossed paths a few times, both on-screen and off. The two appeared together as oddball newscasters in the Anchorman movies, and are now being reunited in in the Apple TV+ series The Shrink Next Door.
The A.V. Club sat down with Ferrell and Rudd for a video chat about that new series, and their admiration for each other work. After all: If everyone has their favorite Will Ferrell movie, shouldn’t Paul Rudd have one too? You can watch that chat in the video or read a transcript below.
The A.V. Club: Paul, your character in the show is a lot of things, but one of them is a collector of photos of himself with famous people. What does that say about him, and how does that add to his character?
Paul Rudd: I’m no therapist, but if I was...
I think that there are some narcissistic qualities there, but there’s also insecurity. “Look, I’m friends with... I’m an important person like...” There’s a lot there that you could say, “this is the reason for it.” All of that could be true. None of it could be true. I mean, maybe it was just that he took lots of pictures, and that’s the reason. But I have my own thoughts, and I tend to lean toward that.
AVC: Who wouldn’t be excited to see Raul Julia?
PR: One of our greatest actors.
AVC: Will, both of you do some dancing in the series. Do you figure out how your character would dance and dance in that way? Or is it really just how you dance, but with a few tweaks?
Will Ferrell: I probably don’t really figure it out in terms of dance until the actual moment. Hopefully [by then] I’ve gotten to move as the character would move enough times to be able to say, “this is how they would dance.” But I don’t spend time dancing as the character.
AVC: How was Marty’s motion and gait different than yours?
WF: I feel like it was more of a manifestation of his neurosis. I don’t know. I just felt kind of smaller and more vulnerable.
Paul felt so big to me. Paul’s character was someone I truly looked up to and and I wanted to listen to his every word. I think I took that on physically.
PR: In a way, it’s a little bit like those two questions are related.
When you’re playing a character—and certainly characters like this, where their looks are very different than the way we normally look in real life and we sound different than the way we sound in life—For us, it really feels like we are truly inhabiting a character. We always feel that.
It’s very much that sometimes even subconsciously that manifests itself in a physicality. So we do stand differently. We will dance differently. That kind of stuff just happens.
AVC: And I have to imagine it changes over the course of the series. Episode one Marty isn’t episode six Marty.
WF: Yeah, it changes with the aging process. Exactly.
AVC: Both of you have been in so many quotable and amazing movies, shows, etc. I’m wondering if you each have a favorite project from the other person. So, Paul, do you have a favorite Will project or line? Will, do you have a favorite Paul project or line? Besides The Shrink Next Door, of course.
WF: Well, I love Wet Hot American Summer.
AVC: It’s classic.
PR: I don’t want to put you on this spot trying to think of my—
WF: Paul has been very open with me. He’s like, “I think you’re a great guy. I really do like you. But I don’t love the work. I’ll give you one last chance,” and I think I finally proved it to you this time.
PR: Actually, you know what? You really surprised me with this thing.
No, I mean, Will has done iconic performances, including one of them that I was in. I think Ron Burgundy is one of the greatest comic creations.
WF: Fantana, come on.
PR: Not only that, but I mean, Buddy The Elf, who else could do that?
Step Brothers is one of the funniest films of the last quarter century, and then Will’s dramatic work is really good too. He’s a great actor. I’m a fan.
WF: I feel the same about Paul.
PR: I’m a fan of most of the things I’ve seen. [both laugh]
That’s one of those ‘trying to sound insulting while paying a compliment” things. “I’m a fan of most of it.”
AVC: He’s gotten a lot better lately.
PR: He’s the best. He’s the best. I would say to anybody, “if you ever get a chance to work with Will Ferrell, go for it because it’s a masterclass.”
WF: Be careful what you wish for.