Will Ferrell on musical turn in new film Spirited: ‘The most vulnerable thing I’ve ever had to do’

Will Ferrell on preparing for musical turn in new film Spirited: ‘It’s literally the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever had to do’

  • Ferrell, 55, plays Christmas Present in the Charles Dickens adaptation 
  • The movie also stars Ryan Reynolds and Octavia Spencer 
  • Spirited can be seen on Apple+ 

Will Ferrell is opening up about his new Apple+ holiday musical Spirited.

The 55-year-old actor spoke with WSJ. Magazine’s December/January issue about the Charles Dickens adaptation, which costars Ryan Reynolds and Octavia Spencer.

The Irvine, California-born star said that the movie’s director and co-writer Sean Anders pitched the film as ‘a reimagining of A Christmas Carol, but this time it’s from the ghost perspective, and it’s a crisis of faith, and it’s not the usual Scrooge is visited by the ghosts and wakes up the next day rejuvenated.’

The latest: Will Ferrell, 55, opened up about his new Apple+ holiday musical Spirited to WSJ. Magazine's December/January issue. The Charles Dickens adaptation costars Ryan Reynolds and Octavia Spencer

The latest: Will Ferrell, 55, opened up about his new Apple+ holiday musical Spirited to WSJ. Magazine’s December/January issue. The Charles Dickens adaptation costars Ryan Reynolds and Octavia Spencer

Ferrell said the storyline centers around a group of ‘these guys, led by (his character) Christmas Present’ who examine if the concept of redemption is even working anymore.

‘Then Sean was like, “Oh, and it’s a musical,”‘ Ferrell told the publication. ‘And I go, “Oh.” Then within five minutes, I was like, “Yeah – of course, it’s a musical. Yeah, we have to do this.”‘

The Saturday Night Live alum went into detail about rehearsing for the dance sequences in film with Reynolds, who plays the role of Clint Briggs.

‘Cut to us in seven weeks of rehearsals and a month just doing the pre-records. It was just crazy…’ Ferrell said. ‘There was tons of anxiety, but that’s where it was just great to be in the same foxhole together with Ryan and go, “This is nuts, right?”

Ferrell said the storyline centers around a group of 'these guys, led by (his character) Christmas Present' who examine if the concept of redemption is even working anymore

Ferrell said the storyline centers around a group of ‘these guys, led by (his character) Christmas Present’ who examine if the concept of redemption is even working anymore 

He appears opposite Reynolds, who plays the role of Clint Briggs in the film

He appears opposite Reynolds, who plays the role of Clint Briggs in the film 

The Elf star opened up about the level of difficulty involved in making the holiday film

The Elf star opened up about the level of difficulty involved in making the holiday film 

‘There were moments when Ryan and I were in a dance studio looking at each other in the mirrors trying to do the steps. Ryan’s like, “I feel like I’m in a Zumba class at The Villages retirement community in Florida.” We’re like, “Wait, we’re supposed to get to this twirl here and this thing. How is this going to happen? This is madness.”‘

The Elf star opened up about the level of difficulty involved in making the holiday film.

‘This was sleepless nights, this was, “Oh, next week is dedicated to the shooting of this one number,” and waking up at four in the morning. And I can’t go back to sleep, so I’m walking around in the dark through Boston Common with my earphones in, with the track, singing out loud, walking in the dark. People are waking up and going on their morning jogs and [thinking] “What is that guy doing?”‘

Ferrell said Spirited marked a ‘huge difference’ in what his performance required musically from other projects he has done.

‘All of those other previous examples were comedic singing, like, “Oh, that’s funny,” and maybe on occasion someone’s like, “You’re kind of a good singer though, too, but that was really funny.”‘

Ferrell said Spirited marked a 'huge difference' in what his performance required musically from other projects he has done

Ferrell said Spirited marked a ‘huge difference’ in what his performance required musically from other projects he has done 

In the chat, Ferrell also talked about his involvement in the upcoming Barbie film, describing it as 'the ultimate example of high art and low art'

In the chat, Ferrell also talked about his involvement in the upcoming Barbie film, describing it as ‘the ultimate example of high art and low art’

‘This was legit. That was the intimidating part, to give an earnest performance with these songs. So, it was theater camp. It was full-on boot camp. It’s literally the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever had to do. 

He added: ‘It just felt like that was the longest high-wire act done to date. Maybe the only closest thing was doing a movie entirely in Spanish, but that still was different. That still was not as intimidating, in a weird way.’

In the chat, Ferrell also talked about his involvement in the upcoming Barbie film from director Greta Gerwig and featuring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.

‘It is, in my humble opinion, the ultimate example of high art and low art,’ he said. ‘It’s a loving homage to the brand and, at the same time, couldn’t be more satirical – just an amazing comment on male patriarchy and women in society and why Barbie’s criticized and yet why every little girl still wants to play with Barbie.

‘Boy, when I read it, I was like, “This is fantastic.” I get to play the CEO of Mattel and be that guy who’s just insensitive but weird and then, not to spoil anything, but …. anyway, that’s what excites me.’

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