After running the well dry on sports comedies, Will Ferrell must have been ready for a change. First he starred in the indie dramedy Everything Must Go, but his next film takes him in a different direction entirely — and even has him speaking a different language!
Ferrell stars in Casa de Mi Padre, a Spanish-language comedy that places him in totally new territory. However, Ferrell reveals to the New York Times that he’s far from proficient in Spanish, which made the production a challenge — though ultimately rewarding.
Ferrell admits that he took a gamble on this project simply because he isn’t finding fresh material coming out of Hollywood. He clarifies by saying, “It’s one of the more creatively timid times in Hollywood. You find yourself going, ‘If they’re not going to make this movie, why don’t I go off and play in this area for little or no money?’ The other thing that was supposed to pay me just went away, so I’m not getting anything anyway.”
Though Ferrell took Spanish through high school and two semesters in college, he certainly wasn’t fluent by any means. Though he was supposed to reacquaint himself with the language over the summer, like most students he ignored his homework. He reveals that when his collaborates called him before filming started, he was forced to own up. He reveals, “They asked, ‘How’s your Spanish coming?’ I’m like: ‘Not good. I haven’t even started.’ I was going to listen to Rosetta Stone, and I couldn’t figure out how to get it onto my computer. It was a disaster.”
Filmed like an melodramatic telemundo soap opera, Ferrell wanted to play the film for its naturally absurd laughs and not make it about his lack of Spanish skills. He explains, “For some reason it just hit me that it’d be really funny not to have the joke be that I speak bad Spanish, but that I actually speak as proficient Spanish as I can muster, and everything is played really straight.” He admits though that he still can’t proficiently speak Spanish, and hopes that fans won’t approach him speaking Espanol, point out, “I’m going to be continually letting people down. I’ll say: ‘Don’t you appreciate the movie even more? I can’t even speak to you in Spanish right now.'”
Naturally on the first day of filming Ferrell was scheduled to shoot one of the film’s more extensive speaking parts, a monologue about his dream woman. “It was terrifying,” he reveals with a chuckle, “There was a moment of: ‘What did I get myself into?’ It’s the exhilarating part of what we get to do.”
Because of its low budget and obviously niche material, Casa de Mi Padre is only opening on 368 screens, which is about 10% of the number of screens of what Ferrell’s last comedy hit, the much more mainstream The Other Guys, opened on (3,651). Ferrell is a bit disappointed about that, confessing, “It would just crack me up if it was in the multiplexes of Omaha, Nebraska.”
Something tells me that Ferrell — who recently made headlines for appearing in Old Milwaukee Beer commercials that only aired in Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska — underestimates his appeal, even in Spanish.
Casa de Mi Padre opens in theaters on March 16.