Will Ferrell enters from stage left on the Jimmy Fallon show. He is dressed in a gingham dress and a straw hat, complete with a brunette wig and a basket full of snack cakes.
He takes a seat and announces that he’s the new face of Little Debbie snack cakes. “You’re the new face of Li’l Debbie?” Jimmy asks, amusingly bewildered.
“It’s Little Debbie,” Will retorts with mock impatience.
What follows is a typically unpredictable interview with Will Ferrell, dressed and acting as a character, the promotion of his new film barely an afterthought.
Will Ferrell has won over many fans with his unique sense of humor. But while those fans love his hilarious and energetic on-screen antics, many still wonder: what is Will Ferrell like in real life?
Funny from the Beginning
Before his career began to gain steam, Will was known as a jokester. He was even voted “Best Personality” by his high school classmates.
After getting his start on Saturday Night Live in 1995, he became well-known for his zany characters and exaggerated impersonations. Behind the scenes, Will would often remain in character for days at a time — sometimes even months — just to bring a light-hearted atmosphere to his castmates.
In an interview produced for SNL, Will recounted some of these characters, with footage showing the people around him regularly bursting into laughter. Referring to these backstage antics, Will said:
Because of the nature of the show, the day-to-day pressures of having to produce material and things like that, I was always trying to find ways to make everyone remember that we were on Saturday Night Live. You know, this is supposed to be a really fun job.
Throughout his early career, and even as he began to gain notoriety, Will Ferrell simply loved to make people laugh, both on and off stage.
What’s Will Ferrell Like Behind the Scenes?
As Will Ferrell began headlining films like Old School, Elf, and Anchorman, his career began to skyrocket. He soon had less and less time to devote to each project, and his schedule seldom allowed for the same behind-the-scenes character work he enjoyed on the set of SNL.
Still, he can’t resist making his co-stars break character occasionally, with blooper reels from his films showing his fellow actors cracking up uncontrollably.
Off set and in more serious interviews, Will is quiet and unassuming, with an easy smile and a relaxed demeanor. This interview shows this calm and professional side.
How Does Will Ferrell Act in Public?
In fact, when Will isn’t purposefully making people laugh, his true personality is more in line with these serious interviews. When in public, Will tends to keep to himself unless recognized.
One user in an online forum recounted an experience with Will at a baseball game. He said that he and a friend spotted Will from across the stadium. Though somewhat starstruck, they opted to keep the sighting to themselves.
It didn’t take long, however, before someone else recognized him. Then someone else, and so on. Eventually, Will was swarmed with fans — so much so that the surrounding stadium aisles were packed with people waiting for an autograph.
Despite the interruption, Will was kind and gracious, and reportedly took the time to meet every single one of the fans that approached him — even though it took hours to get through them all.
Another story, recalled by a cocktail server in Los Angeles, described a night that Will Ferrell came to her bar, accompanied by a group of friends — all dressed in tuxedos. They were having a great time, laughing and talking, and had apparently just come from a game of golf, which they also played in tuxedos.
The server said that through the whole evening, Will was jovial, hilarious, and conversational with the staff. Needless to say, this left quite an impression on them.
An Occasional Off Day
On the other hand, one fan described a time when Will came to be interviewed on a local radio show. A crowd of fans had gathered to see Will and were extremely excited when he showed up.
Will himself was reportedly less than enthused. This user said that he “shuffled in” with eyes half-closed and barely interacted with the interviewer — much less the audience.
Understandably, after his departure, the fans were deeply disappointed with Will’s lack of enthusiasm and failure to engage with the people that had come to see him. It seems that he does have the occasional bad day, though reports like these are few and far between.
What’s it Like to Work with Will Ferrell?
One last story comes from professional branding expert and fan of Will Ferrell, Leonard Kim. He briefly worked as a model in a photo shoot with GQ magazine.
The theme of the shoot called for Mr. Kim to be decked out in full wedding attire. He posed with his long-time girlfriend, who graciously agreed to stand in as his “bride” for the day.
As the couple stands for yet another photograph, and just as the photographer is about to snap the picture, a man suddenly leaps into frame from behind them, tossing handfuls of confetti into the air. Of course, the man is Will Ferrell, grinning from ear to ear.
Jokingly, Mr. Kim recounts this story by saying that Will Ferrell’s photobomb “ruined his wedding.” While the thought that Will just happened to wander into a “wedding” photo shoot with confetti in his hands is an amusing one, in reality, Mr. Kim had been working with Will for several days as part of a larger shoot for this issue of GQ.
It may not have been a real photobomb, but while on the set, Will was the same energetic goofball that the photo portrays. The way he interacted with the GQ crew certainly made an impression on Mr. Kim. In regards to this brief time spent as coworkers, he said the following:
I’m sure we all know he’s hilarious on the big screen, but in person, he’s just as funny, if not funnier. He’s one of the most sincere, down to earth people I’ve ever worked with.
Through his long and successful career, Will Ferrell has cultivated an on-screen persona that exudes humor and electric energy.
Once the cameras are off, he still lives to delight those around him, always looking for ways to draw out a laugh and generally lighten the mood. While he sometimes has his bad days, with his fans, he is generally kind, patient, and gracious.
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