Why Will Ferrell Fought The Studio To Make Get Hard Rated R

It’s hard to make a prison comedy without letting the language get a little… well, "hard" is the right adjective, once again. This was the chief lesson learned by Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart as the comedians started collaborating on Etan Cohen’s upcoming film Get Hard, which opens later this month. And it’s a lesson Ferrell took away from a previous fight he had with a studio over his anticipated comedy, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

On a sunny day outside of New Orleans, I was able to join a small group of journalists interviewing Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart during filming of Get Hard. We watched them do a dinner party scene multiple times, exploring the material from multiple angles to make sure that they found the funniest lines in the conversations. It was clear, based on the language being used in the scene, that Get Hard wasn’t going to pull any punches as it prepared to go before the MPAA. That was one of the first questions that I lobbed at Ferrell, if this was going to be proudly raunchy and as R-rated as possible.

Will Ferrell told me:

There were conversations where [the studio was] like, 'Is there any way it can be PG-13?' And we said no. We weren’t trying to be obstinate. I just know going through Anchorman 2, that was a struggle to get that movie to be PG-13. There were so many little... like the rating system has gotten so prohibitive. There are now jokes that you’ll see on Two Broke Girls, that will make a movie R rated. So, we would go back and forth on this.I don’t know if it’s just that our movie [Anchorman 2] and our specific experience on that, but, or if the standards are getting tougher and tougher, but you say one thing, and it will throw you into R. So, having just gone through that, and the thought of trying to make a benign movie about prison, I just... we didn’t want to be handcuffed in that way. So it just, it just kind of had to be R.

Did you have any doubt after watching the most recent red-band trailer for Get Hard? There are so many prison-rape jokes in this three-minute tease, I felt like I’d crammed the whole season of Oz into one sitting. The clip ends with an extended – very, very lengthy – blowjob joke. Yeah, this is going to be rated R:

Get Hard stars Will Ferrell as a white-collar executive who is sentenced to a prison term in San Quentin, so he hires Kevin Hart to teach him how to behave like a convict. The comedy co-stars Edwina Findley Dickerson, T.I. Harris, Alison Brie, Matt Walsh and Craig T. Nelson. It opens everywhere on March 27.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.