Will Ferrell reveals why Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is the favorite amongst his own movies along with its bizarre origins. Ferrell was on the Bill Simmons Podcast where he shared the story. Will Ferrell was still at Saturday Night Live with writing partner Adam McKay when the duo started writing a script that was loosely based off a "Glengarry Glen Ross meets a car dealership" called August Blowout. Everybody loved their script, but nobody would make it, so it sat on a shelf until Paul Thomas Anderson did a guest writing stint on SNL. Anderson mentioned that he had read the script and offered up his help to get their movie off of the ground.
Part of the reason that Ferrell loves Anchorman so much is because it was a nightmare to get made. Part of the reason may have been that the version that we all know and love was drastically different from what he and Adam McKay first had in mind. Ferrell explains.
" The first version of Anchorman is basically the movie Alive, where the year is 1976, and we are flying to Philadelphia, and all the newsmen from around the country are flying in to have some big convention. Ron convinces the pilot that he knows how to fly the charter jet, and he immediately crash-lands it in the mountains. And it's just the story of them surviving and trying to get off the mountainside."
Ferrell probably shouldn't have shared the initial plans because he could still go out and make this movie with different characters. Ferrell goes on to share the rest of the plot that involves killer orangutans with Chinese throwing stars. Read what Ferrell said below.
"They clipped a cargo plane, and the cargo plane crashed as well, close to them, and it was carrying only boxes of orangutans and Chinese throwing stars. So throughout the movie we're being stalked by orangutans who are killing, one by one, the team off with throwing stars. And Veronica Corningstone keeps saying things like, 'Guys, I know if we just head down we'll hit civilization.' And we keep telling her, 'Wrong.' She doesn't know what we're talking about. So that was the first version of the movie."
Even after the duo made changes to the script to get it close to what it became, nobody would make the movie. Ferrell recalls getting 10 rejection letters in one day. It wasn't until after the success of Old School that DreamWorks enthusiastically offered to make the movie. The comedian mentions that even after the movie was completed that they had to reshoot the ending and that some people just didn't get the movie at all. Ferrell explains.
"We even had one of the marketing people at the studio at the time say to other members of the press, 'Oh, you don't even have to watch it. It's not that good.' I had a buddy of mine who witnessed a fight in a theater break out, like a verbal fight, where the movie was in its end credits and someone yelled at the screen, 'Will Ferrell I want my money back!' and someone went, 'Screw you! That movie's great!'"
It's crazy to think that Anchorman almost didn't get made. It's even crazier to hear what the original idea for the movie was, but then again 2004 was a long time ago and Ferrell had not proven himself to be box office gold yet.
The difficult birth of Anchorman was worth it and that's why it's Ferrell's favorite of his movies. Everybody loves Anchorman now and fans frequently repeat the dialogue to Ferrell and the other members of the cast on a daily basis. Empire magazine named it 113 in the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time and Ron Burgundy has become a part of the cultural lexicon.