Interview reveals how Will Ferrell almost died on the set of ‘Anchorman 2’


The first Anchorman film remains a beloved comedy favorite more than 15 years following its release.

It collected hordes of fans in 2004, when it hit theaters, and continues to do so to this day. Its follow-up, Anchorman 2, was released almost a decade after the first, in 2013, to an eager fanbase. A detail that was previously unknown to fans of the franchise was revealed recently by the director of both films, Adam McKay. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, McKay spoke about the time Will Ferrell had a near-death experience on set of Anchorman 2.

Both Anchorman films are absolutely stacked with incredible actors, from Ferrell himself to the legends that are Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell and Dave Koechner. Ferrell helmed both films as the buffoonish and overconfident Ron Burgundy, a role that helped cement him as one of the most popular comedic actors of the 2000s and 2010s.

He almost didn’t have the chance to appear in films like The Lego Movie or Zoolander 2 after an on-set accident nearly took his life. While filming a hanging scene that was intended as a brief, humorous sketch, Ferrell came dangerously close to actually losing his life, according to McKay. While discussing the importance of safety on-set, he revealed the 54-year-old actor’s near brush with death.

McKay began his story with a note that the cast and crew is “always really careful” on set. McKay likes to “give an extra speech at the beginning” of filming, in hopes of keeping everyone safe on-set.

We had like a near accident on the set of Anchorman 2,” he said. “It was involving Will, and it was really scary. It was a scene where Ron Burgundy was going to hang himself.” Calling the intended scene a “silly joke,” McKay went on to explain that “for a half a second, the rig didn’t operate properly and there was actual tension on the rope,” which could have injured Ferrell. Thankfully, the rig “gave way and Will was OK.”

“Thank God no one was hurt,” McKay continued, noting that the crew was “sick about it for two days.”

The scene in question sees Ferrell’s Burgundy loop a thick rope around a fluorescent light while discussing his plan with Baxter, his beloved dog. He informs the Border Terrier that he is “going the way of the ancient samurai, who, when dishonored, would hang themselves from a fluorescent light.”

He then bids “goodbye” to his “hairy prince” before leaping from a stool. He is briefly suspended by the rope tied around his neck before the light breaks away from its position in the ceiling and he tumbles to the floor. The scene is surprisingly humorous, given its content, and seems thoroughly innocuous in the final cut.

As noted by ScreenRant, McKay’s story feels particularly poignant in light of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’ recent death on the set of Rust. During filming for the western movie, actor, and producer Alec Baldwin accidentally discharged a prop gun that he was told was safe to use, fatally wounding Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

These kinds of workplace accidents are uncommon, but Hutchins’ death has enhanced scrutiny regarding on-set safety. The Ferrell story only adds to the visibility of the dangers of filmmaking, and serves as a reminder to fans that this treasured actor could have met his end all the way back in 2013.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and Ferrell is a thriving 54-year-old enjoying a successful acting career that has now spanned decades. Next time you watch a Ferrell film, however, you can remember how lucky we all are to have Ferrell around to keep the laughs coming.