'Anchorman' Producer Reveals Why He's No Longer Friends with Will Ferrell: 'It Ended Not Well'

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay were longtime friends and producing partners behind Anchorman, Step Brothers and more, but they ended their business partnership in 2019

Adam McKay, Will Ferrell
Adam McKay and Will Ferrell in September 2014. Photo: George Pimentel/Getty

Will Ferrell's longtime producing partner Adam McKay is getting candid about what led them to severing ties with their business.

The Don't Look Up director, 53, co-produced such comedies as Step Brothers, Anchorman and more with Ferrell, 54, under the Gary Sanchez Productions banner, but in 2019, they announced that they were parting ways on their business endeavors after 13 years.

They said in a joint statement at the time, "The two of us will always work together creatively and always be friends. And we recognize we are lucky as hell to end this venture as such."

Ferrell recently told The Hollywood Reporter of the decision, "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."

McKay told Vanity Fair, however, that other conflicts led to the end of their partnership.

"I've learned some lessons. It's always hard feelings," said McKay, who won an Oscar in 2016 for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Big Short.

According to Vanity Fair, the pair had talked about disbanding Gary Sanchez Productions prior to the split, but according to McKay, the breaking point came when he decided to recast the role of the Los Angeles Lakers' former team owner Jerry Buss for an upcoming HBO series, hiring their pal and frequent collaborator John C. Reilly instead of Ferrell for the part.

"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," said McKay.

He added, "Didn't want to hurt his feelings. 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."

Will Ferrell
Dominik Bindl/WireImage

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McKay claimed that he hasn't spoken with Ferrell since the phone call when they decided to go separate ways. He said he has tried to email Ferrell since then but to no reply.

"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," recalled McKay.

"I f----- up on how I handled that," he admitted. "... 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---? We worked together for 25 years. Are we really going to let this go away?' "

But, McKay said Ferrell "took it as a way deeper hurt than I ever imagined ... 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 currently stars in Apple TV+'s The Shrink Next Door series alongside Paul Rudd. McKay directed the upcoming Netflix film Don't Look Up and he's an executive producer on HBO's Succession.

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