After teaming up for classics like Anchorman and Step Brothers, it’s unclear if they’ll ever work together again, thanks in large part to a casting decision.
McKay explained that he decided to swap Ferrell’s role as former Lakers owner Jerry Buss in the upcoming HBO limited series about the Showtime Lakers, passing the role to John C. Reilly, something he did without telling his longtime friend first. Ferrell then “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,” McKay said.
“I fucked up on how I handled that,” McKay explained in the profile, which focused on his upcoming film Don’t Look Up. “It’s the old thing of keep your side of the street clean. I should have just done everything by the book.”
McKay continued, revealing that he thought they’d “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 shit?’ We worked together for 25 years. Are we really going to let this go away?”
McKay dropped Ferrell because the show is meant to hue as close to reality as possible.
“The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it’s hyperrealistic,” McKay said. “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.”
As the timeline shows, Ferrell and McKay made magic on Saturday Night Live together over two decades ago, and even co-founded Funny or Die as a team. Eventually, the pair announced in 2019 that they were disbanding their partnership as Gary Sanchez Productions, with a statement reading that they’d “always work together creatively and always be friends.” But now, it seems like neither is the case.
McKay’s upcoming film—starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill. Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, and more—will have a limited theatrical release on Dec. 10 and arrives on Netflix on Dec. 24.