Adam McKay describes fallout with longtime collaborator Will Ferrell: ‘I f**ked up’

Adam McKay opened up in a recent interview with Vanity Fair about the reason why he and Will Ferrell decided to part ways after running a wildly successful production company together for nearly two decades.

This revelation came after McKay and Ferrell announced in 2019 that they were ending their business ventures with Gary Sanchez Productions after 13 years. The duo co-produced many of Ferrell’s projects under the production company, including massive comedy hits like Step Brothers and Anchorman.

The 53-year-old shared the incident that prompted the split. McKay decided to recast the role of former Los Angeles Lakers team owner Jerry Buss, replacing the Elf star with his best friend, John C. Riley in a currently untitled HBO miniseries. The project is based on the book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman.

McKay said, “The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it’s hyperrealistic. And Ferrell just doesn’t look like Jerry Buss, and he’s not that vibe of a Jerry Buss. And there were some people involved who were like, ‘We love Ferrell, he’s a genius, but we can’t see him doing it.’ It was a bit of a hard discussion.”

He added that he made a mistake by not calling Ferrell regarding the situation. “[I] didn’t want to hurt his feelings. [I] wanted to be respectful. … I should have called [Ferrell], and I didn’t. And Reilly did, of course, because Reilly, he’s a stand-up guy.”

McKay also shared that he and Ferrell have not spoken to each other in years since they went their separate ways. However, he admitted to trying to send an email to the actor that was to no avail. 

“I said, ‘Well, I mean, we’re splitting up the company,’ and he basically was like, ‘Yeah we are,’ and basically was like, ‘Have a good life.’ And I’m like, ‘F—, Ferrell’s never going to talk to me again.’ So it ended not well. I f**d up on how I handled that… I should have just done everything by the book. In my head, I was like, ‘We’ll let all this blow over. Six months to a year, we’ll sit down, we’ll laugh about it and go, ‘It’s all business junk, who gives a s–t? We worked together for 25 years. Are we really going to let this go away?'”

He wrapped up his statement by revealing how deeply hurt Ferrell was. “But [Will] took it as a way deeper hurt than I ever imagined and I tried to reach out to him, and I reminded him of some slights that were thrown my way that were never apologized for.”

Ferrell shared his thoughts on the situation in October during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor claimed that they were on different bandwidths creatively. “Adam was like, ‘I want to do this, and this, and this.’ He wanted growth and a sphere of influence, and I was just like, ‘I don’t know, that sounds like a lot that I have to keep track of.’ To me, the potential of seeing a billboard and being like, ‘Oh, we’re producing that?’ I don’t know. At the end of the day, we just have different amounts of bandwidth.”

Ferrell is currently starring in Apple TV+ series The Shrink Next Door, while McKay has directed Netflix’s upcoming film Don’t Look Up with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence.