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It’s nice that Step Brothers doesn’t have much of a plot, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time here explaining to you all the crazy adventures John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell get into in their latest team-up effort. To read the interview below, while Reilly and Ferrell conducted with a whole pack of journalists in New York on Monday, all you need to know is there’s a crucial scene involving testicles. I mean, it’s a Judd Apatow production; of course it involves testicles. Oh, and there are samurai swords, pirate hats, Chewbacca masks, night-vision goggles and a bicycle used as a weapon in this ridiculously funny movie, the first R-rated one to come from Ferrell and director Adam McKay. See below for all the insight and dick jokes from the surprisingly adult—but still hilarious—stars.
With your writing [the screenplay], how did that come about?
John C. Reilly: In the third grade, right?
Will Ferrell: I didn’t write until the late fourth grade. Well, the Step Brothers concept, which is what people are calling it—they’re not calling it a movie—this kind of came about after working for John on Talladega Nights, and Adam McKay. We decided, if we can think of something, let’s try to do another project together. John was really the catalyst in making sure that happened. So many times when you’re working on films and projects, you work with people you click with and you like, and it’s like ‘We’re going to be friends forever! Let’s work again!’ And then nothing ever happens. We made a commitment to get together, pitched a bunch of ideas, and this was the one.
How do you get in the mindset to play someone with a 13-year-old mentality?
Will: It’s not far from the current status. It’s just remembering back to those feelings when you felt awkward, shy and adolescent. It’s one of the things about being an actor—we don’t have to fully grow up in a way. At least I don’t.
John: We were already meditating on that mindset when we sat down to think about stories.
Which stories were drawn from your real experience, and which one of you is more immature?
John: We’re both pretty childish.
Will: Both selectively immature.
John: But at the same time, we’re both pretty responsible. We’re both good dad. Will isn’t one of those flaky, crazy comedian guys who has the happy-go-lucky personality in the movies and behind the scenes is like a dark opium addict. [Will makes a pretty amazing grinch face] He’s a pretty good guy, so, yeah. And the stories—honestly, at this point, they’ve become Dale and Brennan’s stories. Maybe they were inspired by something that we remembered from our childhood.
Will: I’ve never had a samurai sword. We were just making lists of ‘What would be funny.’
John: I wanted a samurai sword, but my mom was so stringent about no guns or weapons. She was smart to do that, too. If we had the chance to find real guns, we would have been shooting off real guns.
Will: I used to have a Star Trek tracer gun, that shot actual tracers. And she let me have a little dart gun with the suction. Like, ‘You can have it, but don’t ever shoot anyone close to their face.’ And this one kid was really giving it to me, and I was like ‘I can’t hold back.’ And I shot him in the head, or it whizzed by the head. But I thought it was well worth it.
Did either of you have a sibling rivalry with your brothers?
John: Our house was more like Lord of the Flies. I have three brothers and two sisters, so it was like all of us just trying to survive and have some shred of privacy in our lives.
Will: My brother and I were always trying to mess with each other. It was definitely the usual sibling things of possession and keep your stuff on your side of the room.
Besides John Stamos, who’s the one dude you would sleep with and why?
John: Why do we need to go beyond John Stamos? We found someone we agree on.
Will: Maybe Brody from The Hills. But he’s a little too young for me.
What’s the craziest rumor you’ve ever heard about yourself?
Will: Uh, that I am germaphobic, and I carry around my own pen to sign autographs.
John: That almost sounds like a friend of yours pranked you.
Will: I know.
John: OK, I did. It was me.
Will: Well, the craziest rumor, that was actually not fun to go through, was that I died in a hanggliding accident. That was rough. I had to call my family to make sure they didn’t hear it.
John: I luckily have avoided the gossip mill for the most part. Those guys every once in a while will show up and take pictures of me going to the airport, like they did on my way out here. I think what happens is they get home like ‘Oh yeah, it’s John C. Reilly. Huh. Anyway.’ Delete!
If you guys were in a band together, what would you play and what kind of music would you play?
Will: I think it would be a Loggins and Messina type thing. Or Hall and Oates. We would equally share the vocals. I can’t play and instrument, so…
John: Well, you’re pretty damn good on the cowbell, as folks know.
Who was the stunt nutsack?
Will: That was a prosthetic device. But! My balls were modeled.
John: Well, if you did notice those nice strawberry blonde tufts of hair around it… I thought that was a nice touch.
Will: Yeah, just for comfort. I was able to really bang them around, without worrying about any sort of issue.
I was wondering if you guys were going to come up with some crazy plot, but you seemed to just let the characters kind of roam free and get into trouble on their own.
Will: We wanted to avoid the thing that would all of a sudden, in an unreal way [happen]. They are CEOs of a company!
John: It’s partially what we’re making fun of, the predictability of these kinds of movies like The Parent Trap. I always joke that this movie is a cross between Talladega Nights and Ordinary People. That’s part of the whole joy of making movies with Will and Adam, is how they take archetypical stories or clichés that are in movies and then take them to an absurd level, or kick it up a notch to where it seems completely ridiculous.
Will: And we really love the fact that they only get this much better. [Measures very small space] Not to get too deep, but it’s like—Derek has supposedly everything, and you see how unhappy and dysfunctional that is. I like that it comments on how it’s all about achievement in America. Sometimes it’s just OK to just exist, and function in society, and be a productive, tax-paying person at the very least.
John: We struggled with it a little, I remember. I remember saying, ‘No, it should just be punk rock.’ The standard movie of this kind would have them be new people at the end.
Do you see a sequel? They are oddly real characters.
Will: John had a great idea.
John: The great idea is that they adopt children together.
Are you guys making another movie together?
John: I feel really lucky to work with Will, so…
Will: And vice-versa. Not that we’re even approaching that, but like Hope and Crosby, the idea of a team—that would get lambasted now. It would be like, ‘We’re tired of seeing these people together.’ I think if people are good together and seem to work well, we would welcome the chance to do it again.
If you could pick one character to revisit, which one would it be?
John: I would really like to go back to Days of Thunder and re-do that one. I know so much about NASCAR now…
Will: What was his name again?
John: Buck Bretherton. And he is iconic of course.
Will: Uh, I would love to be in The Buck Bretherton Story. We might do another Anchorman, potentially. That’s such a fun character to do again.
What about Old School Dos?
Will: No, not that I know of. There was a script, but I don’t know…
What about taking on an existing character, like Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes movie?
Will: That project is still kind… we’re still kind of figuring that one out in a way. I haven’t really thought about that so much.
What would you do with more Ron Burgundy?
Will: We had so much fun making that movie, and it was hard to get made. But what’s been great is it’s kind of taken on such a life of its own.
John: It’s beloved!
Will: At least the feedback we get is that it’s beloved. It feels like an evergreen thing that we could go back do it again.