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Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
July 17, 2010

In the action comedy The Other Guys, two marginalized detectives at the bottom of the food chain find themselves disrespected at every turn: pencil-pushing desk jockey Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) desperately represses his shady past as a campus pimp, while Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) belligerently works to shake his reputation as the laughingstock who accidentally shot baseball player Derek Jeter. But when a bookkeeping discrepancy hints at a larger conspiracy, Gamble and Hoitz are suddenly given a window of opportunity to redeem themselves through a case no one else cares to touch.

Directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights), The Other Guys also features Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson as the precinct's action hero alpha males, Michael Keaton as an unappreciated police captain who moonlights at Bed Bath and Beyond to put his bisexual son through college, and Eva Mendes as Gamble's illogically hot wife. Additionally, the movie lampoons various conventions of the genre, from the tactic of good cop/bad cop to the Hollywood stylization of flashy explosions.

In this interview, Will Ferrell, Eva Mendes, and Adam McKay talk about Serious Business, such as depicting gangbanging hobos, making out in geriatric garb, and keeping the pimp hand strong. They're in comedy mode, folks, so take their answers with a grain of salt--we wouldn't want some humorless reader to actually believe they killed a man near the Brooklyn Bridge.

MEDIA: Will, is it important to have your partner's back in comedy, in much the same way that cops have to look out for one another?

WILL: Uh, no. I feel like it's more important to be really cutthroat on a set and not look out for each other. That provides a certain tension. And it makes for a horrible work environment, but boy, does it pop on screen.

ADAM: Will actually insists on having a guy on set who counts lines. So there's a constant line count sort of rotating through the production.

EVA: Yeah, I had the least lines...I lost in that way.

WILL: [to Eva] You were greatly reduced.

ADAM: Everyone's sort of in their own little area counting lines. No one talks when film's not rolling. There's constantly actors coming to me back behind the monitor screaming at me, "Why did my line count drop?" It's a nasty, tense environment.

WILL: The studios love it because we don't serve food. There's no crafts services, there's no creature comforts.

ADAM: There's no set medic.

WILL: There's no insurance. There's no bond company.

Your character drives a Prius. Was that a conscious decision to promote being green?

WILL: I think the choice of the Prius was more of just a very sensible car. It's a very Allen Gamble type vehicle. I think in earlier drafts of the script, Mark's character drove a Dodge Challenger or something like [that]--a total muscle car. And it was a nice contrast to what I drove.

Where did the idea of your character singing Irish folk songs come from?

WILL: As Adam was working on the script, he would just say, "Just text me any random ideas you have." And one of them was "What if Terry and Allen are at an Irish bar, and in a scene where information has to be given out, it's his weekly folk singing night? And one of the things Allen loves to do is sing Irish songs at a bar." And I just sent that and Adam wrote back, "Going into the script immediately." So that's kind of the gist of how that worked.

ADAM: He sang it beautifully though, didn't he?

Eva, the running joke with your character is that she's ridiculously out of Allen's league. In real life, are you amused by guys' perception of your hotness?

EVA: [laughs, struggles for a modest answer] Ummm...Well, it doesn't really happen, because the truth is...Oh God, I'm going to sound like an assh*** for saying this, but the truth is, like, the fame walks in the door before you do. [to her colleagues] And if you guys know what I mean by that, please help me out. [laughs] So you no longer know how men really react to you. They just react to, "Dude, there's that famous girl from Training Day in the other room." You know? Kind of? No?

WILL: You are a hot lady, though.

ADAM: Quit trying to run away from that.

WILL: Yeah.

EVA: No, but it's like, I just don't feel like I get that genuine response anymore because now I'm kind of like a...

ADAM: Do you think if you worked at like a Blockbuster Video, guys would then be like, [shruggingly] "Eh, she's all right..."?

EVA: Well, I'll tell you a little story, actually...That just reminded me of something. I did this film with Will Smith a few years ago called Hitch, and we went around the world promoting the film...So one day we were in Rio and we were doing press, and he was like, "I thought Riva is a beautiful girl--this is Riva Melendez!" (That's what he calls me, Riva Melendez.) He goes, "Well, I just went down to the coffee shop and I saw about five Rivas that worked there...In Brazil, you're not a big deal." [laughs] So that puts it all in perspective.

Adam, why was a Ponzi scheme the crime of choice for this story?

ADAM: Well, we talked about the idea when we were doing this movie, because the cop buddy genre is kind of...It's, like, a pretty difficult genre. It's almost dead in a weird way. Like it started to get so stale towards the end, and there had been a bunch that hadn't hit in the '90s and the early 2000s. So it was sort of a tough thing. But the one thing we said was the reason you could do this is [because] the perception of crime has changed. The fact that Bernie Madoff just stole $90 billion and that these banks basically stole a trillion dollars...All of a sudden, drug smuggling and those things got kind of quaint. So we thought it was a great idea to sort of involve that. We kind of felt like it was the only crime you could have in it. The problem is a lot of it's on paper, and a lot of it happens through long-term lobbying and really dry kind of things. So we obviously had to give some muscle to it. But we felt like it was essential. Even though it's not the main part of the movie and you think of it just as the plot, the jeopardy and kind of reality of that, I think, makes you care about what they're doing in crucial scenes.

Your cameo as "Dirty Mike" seems like it could have been a lot more vulgar than it turned out in the final cut. Can we expect raunchier deleted scenes on the DVD?

ADAM: We had a version of the Dirty Mike that was like five minutes long--just me saying horrible things we were going to do in the Prius with these guys...

WILL: Trying to convince us to allow him to do it.

ADAM: "It's not going to be as creepy as you think. Just a bunch of transients with some mustard and a poodle having a good time." And we showed it at our friends and family screening. But of course, they know us, so everyone roared with laughter. And we're like, "Oh my God, this is so funny." And then we showed it at a regular screening, just with recruited people, and you have never heard a run bomb like that in your entire life. People were horrified. Like, my wife was kind of mad at me after she saw it. That having been said, of course that's on the DVD. So yeah, there's some raunchy extras.

The film's closing credits feature an animated montage of white collar crime stats. How did that idea come about?

ADAM: You know, the nice thing about credits is you do them when you're done with the movie. So we finished the movie and then looked at it. And we kind of hit on some of these financial things, but I kind of felt like it's not a partisan issue. It's not a right-wing/left-wing issue--it's just kind of what's going on. Is there a fun way to [say], "Hey, you just laughed, but by the way, this is ridiculously awful" and, at the same time, still have it be fun? So Picture Mill did our credits. I sort of said, "Can you show us some statistics--because they're all striking and so outrageous--but do it in [an] almost Pink Panther animated kind of way?" And they came up with that idea. But yeah, I loved the way they pulled it off. I think it's a perfect kind of balance. They're fun to watch. And then you get to hear the "Pimps Don't Cry" song from Eva and Cee-Lo from Gnarls Barkley. That's actually Cee-Lo from Gnarls Barkley singing with her. And so it was a great opportunity to sort of throw those things. And then we didn't anticipate that "Pimps Don't Cry" would play perfectly thematically over statistics about CEOs and corporations. So that was a nice bonus.

Speaking of that colorful song, it's clear the message of the movie is that things work out for the best when you stay true to yourself and embrace your inner pimp. Do you have any tips on keeping the pimp hand strong?

WILL: Keeping your pimp hand strong...

ADAM: Yeah, the pimp hand is a tricky thing to keep strong. You have to stay cold. Ice cold. But at the same time, you have to keep an inner warmth. Otherwise, people are going to run away from you. So it's a balance.

WILL: But you can't let your b*tches get away with stuff, at the same time.

ADAM: It's true.

WILL: I mean, what's the point of being a pimp, you know?

ADAM: And that's bidness.

EVA: [laughs]

ADAM: That's not out of sadism or anger--that's bidness.

WILL: That's just plain bidness.

EVA: It is.

WILL: You know, it's one of those questions that will never really be answered.

ADAM: I mean, you could write a book on that question.

Who had the party trailer on this set?

EVA: I don't know. I think we talk a big game, but I think we're actually pretty boring.

WILL: There was a trailer called the party trailer. And it was, I think, towed away after the second day of filming.

EVA: We burned it down, actually.

WILL: There was a lot of crazy stuff going on in there. There was human trafficking going on. There was a crystal meth lab in there. Yeah, it was not good.

Any other questionable acts of debauchery?

WILL: Well, I remember there was this one day...

EVA: We killed a guy! [laughs]

WILL: Mark and Eva and I were sitting around...Michael wasn't there. But we said, "Let's kill a guy. Keaton would be up for this!" We called up Keaton, Keaton was like, "Tell me when and where." We all met underneath the Brooklyn Bridge...

Eva, what did you think of the scene in which you're dressed in the granny outfit and making out with Will?

EVA: It was oddly arousing, is all I'd like to say. Interpret that as you wish. [laughs]


WILL: It was...Yeah, it was strange. It was strange to kiss Eva Mendes. Or try to, at least.

EVA: You're going to leave it at that? That's going to be the quote? "It was strange to kiss Eva Mendes"? You're not going to help me out there?

WILL: No, no, in a way that..."I can't believe it's happening to me." That's what I meant.

EVA: Good save, good save. Thank you.

WILL: But I do make my wife wear a wig and an older woman's garments when we pleasure each other.

Have you always wanted to play a cop?

WILL: No, I can't say...I mean, I did, as a kid. I'd walk around with a pair of nunchucks on my side. Which is not really law-enforcement related as it is, I guess, like a martial arts thing...I built a jail in my closet and I would incarcerate my family from time to time.

EVA: Awww, that's cute.

ADAM: When you had the nunchucks, were you vaguely thinking, "I'm on the side of good, I'm out here for justice"?

WILL: I guess it was like a vigilante justice, like a guardian angel type thing.

EVA: And how old were you?

WILL: I was 6 years old. 6 to 9. Those three years.

ADAM: Were they homemade nunchucks or actual nunchucks?

WILL: They were rolling pins.

ADAM: That just ruined the whole story. Is that for real?


What are some of your favorite cop/crime films?

EVA: I'm going to go with Michael Mann's Thief, absolutely.

WILL: Turner and Hooch.

ADAM: What's the one with Jay Leno and Pat Morita?...Collision Course would be mine. That is a real movie, I'm not kidding.

Will, are your kids eager to watch you as an action guy?

WILL: You know, my 6-year-old is just starting to figure out what it is I [do]. Like he just, this summer, leaned over to me at one point, he's like, "By the way, dad, I know what you do. I know you're in movies. Just so you know." But he still doesn't really know...I mean, this movie is probably still a little too old for him.

Has he seen Elf?

WILL: I think he saw it when he was like 2 or 3 years old and he started crying when I had to float away on the iceberg. And I said, "You keep watching it. You quit crying. This is about Christmas, this is about joy. So shut up."

Do you kids generally watch your movies?

WILL: It's a weird thing. If it comes up naturally and they want to see something...But I never want it to be like, "Take a look at this. You recognize that guy? Pretty good stuff, right? Let's replay it again."

Related Material

Interview with Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, and Adam McKay
Movie Coverage: The Other Guys


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