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Over the course of his career, Will Ferrell has worked with many hilarious actors and been a part of memorable comedy duos and ensembles overflowing with famous names. But one person Will Ferrell has never worked with is the recipient of a whopping 11 Emmy awards, the exceedingly funny Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Until now that is; the two have finally teamed up for the new movie Downhill. When asked about why he decided to work with Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the first time and join Downhill, Will Ferrell said:
Outside of, obviously, the opportunity to work with Julia, it was the premise. I hadn’t seen the original before, and Jesse Armstrong’s script was so well-written, weaving humor throughout such a serious kind of thing. I don’t get to do movies like this that much. I’m not usually offered this kind of thing. It was exciting to play a real couple. We both have families and kids and have been married for a long time. Fortunately, nothing like this has happened to each of us in our marriages, but there’s still a lot to draw on from family experiences and raising kids. I was just happy to be asked.
It sounds like the opportunity to work with Julia Louis-Dreyfus was the biggest selling point for Will Ferrell to come aboard Downhill. That basically goes without saying, and he may have taken that opportunity regardless of the project just to work with her. But as Ferrell told Entertainment Weekly, the reason that he took her call and wanted to work with her on this project specifically was his belief in the premise and the script.
Downhill is a remake of writer-director Ruben Östlund’s 2014 black comedy Force Majeure. Will Ferrell had never seen the original, but he was sold on the premise and the script adapted by Jesse Armstrong (as well as directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash). Part of what appealed to him about the premise and the script was how different it was from the projects that he usually does and gets offered.
Downhill is about an American family on a ski trip in Austria when an avalanche occurs. Will Ferrell’s character, Pete, flees the avalanche by himself while his wife, Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), tries to protect her kids. This event obviously throws the family into disarray and forces them to reevaluate things. According to Will Ferrell, it’s a serious story about a real couple dealing with real relationship issues that still manages to be funny.
That was apparently appealing for the actor, who got lost during filming, because he doesn’t usually get to play these more serious roles. While he has never went through this exact scenario himself, he and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are both married and have families. That gives him some insight into the dynamics at play that he was interested in drawing on for his performance.
So Will Ferrell was really attracted to the story and the kind of film that Downhill is, in addition to having the opportunity to work with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. As for her, well, the actress, who also was a producer on the film, had several reasons for wanting Will Ferrell in Downhill, as she explained:
Yeah, that’s what I’m asking myself. [Laughs] I’ve always been a massive fan of Will’s and of everything he’s done, which includes [the film] Stranger Than Fiction, which I adored. When I heard that he was interested in playing this, I was thrilled. I had a feeling that this would be something in his wheelhouse we could explore together.
Will Ferrell is a fan of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and it’s clear that the feeling is mutual. Julia Louis-Dreyfus actually cites the 2006 Will Ferrell film Stranger Than Fiction, which is kind of a dramedy and far more serious than a lot of his movies. That film showed how Will Ferrell can have a bit more muted of a performance than his more famous roles in something like Anchorman or Old School, which is what was required for Downhill.
As a fan of his work, particularly Stranger Than Fiction, Julia Louis-Dreyfus thought the part in Downhill was something that Will Ferrell would be good at so they made it happen and these two famous names finally collaborated for the first time.
Downhill is now playing. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to keep track of all the movies headed your way this year.