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Comedy movie history was never the same the moment that Will Ferrell shouted his intention to go streaking, through the quad and into the gymnasium, in director Todd Phillips’ collegiate classic Old School. Undertaking that very task himself on camera, the SNL star helped cement his career as a film actor in this most outrageous way. In the process, the town of Pasadena, California got an eyeful of Ferrell, wearing only his sneakers and what’s called a “marble pouch," as he streaked his way into blockbuster fame.
Initially taken aback, but ultimately on board for his big nude scene, Will Ferrell allegedly did 110 takes of this moment in particular. He said as much during his recent guest spot on IMDB’s That Scene with Dan Patrick podcast, and that’s not all he revealed. Talking up the moment where Frank the Tank is caught by his wife streaking through a main street thoroughfare, Ferrell described how he cleared the are around the set wearing what nature had given him:
This street, it's in Pasadena, kind of looks like a main street, so they had all of these pretty little storefronts. One of which was a gym – after work, everyone's getting their workout in, 6:00 at night and people on the treadmills, right in the window. No one has told them there is going to be a man running naked. The first take, I'm running, doing my lines, but I'm hearing muffled shrieks [screaming] it's the people on their treadmills screeching! And by the third take, everyone was gone - they cleared out.
In an odd sort of synchronicity, three takes is roughly how long it took for Will Ferrell to get comfortable with doing the deed that would make Old School a hit at the box office in 2003. At $87 million worldwide, the film boosted the profiles of Ferrell, his co-stars Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn, and even director Todd Phillips. Phillips actually started strong with his directorial debut in Road Trip and would eventually deliver The Hangover Trilogy and the Academy Award-winning success known as Joker to the world. Just think, if it wasn’t for the scene you’ll see included below, a lot of that may not have happened:
Will Ferrell is the sort of talent who’ll do what he has to in order to get the shot, and all Old School did was allow the SNL veteran to show that to the world. Certainly, with the one-two punch of this film and director Jon Favreau’s holiday favorite Elf, 2003 was the year that put this comedian on the cinematic map. The winning combination, apparently, was one half child-like endearment and another half wild plotting that allowed Ferrell to run down the street virtually naked. While he may have scared away Pasadena gymgoers, it’s at least good to know that Will Ferrell got his exercise in that night as well.
That jog is now commemorated for posterity in Old School, which is currently available wherever you purchase or rent your movie night favorites. Or, if you’re looking for some more recent Ferrell madness, you can catch Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, which is now streaming on Netflix.