Will Ferrell (born July 16, 1967) is an American comedian, actor, voice actor, and writer who first established himself as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, and has since gone on to a successful film career, starring in the comedies A Night at the Roxbury (1998), Old School, Elf (both 2003), Anchorman (2004), Kicking & Screaming (2005), Talladega Nights, Stranger than Fiction (both 2006), Blades of Glory (2007), Semi-Pro and Step Brothers (both 2008). He is considered a member of the Frat Pack, a generation of leading Hollywood comic actors to emerge in the late 1990s and the 2000s including Ben Stiller, Steve Carell, Jack Black, Vince Vaughn, and brothers Owen and Luke Wilson.
Will Ferrell was born in Irvine, California, the son of Kay (née Overman), a teacher, and Lee Ferrell, a keyboardist for The Righteous Brothers. He has Irish ancestry. He first attended elementary school at Turtle Rock Elementary School, and later attended Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, both in Irvine, CA. He attended University High School in Irvine, CA, and was a kicker for the school's varsity football team. He told the Orange County Register that the dullness of Irvine contributed to the growth of his humor. "Growing up in suburbia, in safe, master-planned Irvine, there was no drama so we had to create it in our heads. My main form of entertainment was cracking my friends up and exploring new ways of being funny. I didn't have to have the survival mode instinct like other comics, who grew up in tough neighborhoods. I had the opposite. For me, I grew up in Mayberry, and the humor broke the boredom. And there was a lot to make fun of."
Will Ferrell enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he studied Sports Broadcasting and graduated with a degree in Sports Information. He is also a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. After graduating in 1990, he developed his improvisation skills as a member of the comedy group The Groundlings.
Will (as Alex Trebek, left) and Darrell Hammond (as Sean Connery, right) in the SNL sketch "Celebrity Jeopardy!."Will joined Saturday Night Live in 1995 and left in 2002 after a successful 7 year tenure. He returned to host twice (both in season finales), and once in the cold open of the final episode of Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday.
During his time on SNL, Will made a name for himself with his impersonations, which included:
As Gene Frenkle of Blue Öyster Cult in the Saturday Night Live sketch More
CowbellHis original characters included "Morning Latte" co-host Tom Wilkins, Ed
the Horse's twin brother Ned, fictional Blue Öyster Cult member Gene Frenkle,
music teacher Marty Culp, Spartan cheerleader Greg Buchanan, Dale Sturtevant
from "Dissing Your Dog", Hank of the Bill Brasky Buddies, David Leary from "Dog
Show", and night clubber Steve Butabi in a sketch that went to the big screen in
1998's A Night at the Roxbury.
Will returned to Saturday Night Live as a guest host on May 14, 2005, and May 16, 2009. Both times, he reprised his role as Alex Trebek in the "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketches. On the May 14 appearance, Will reprised his role as Robert Goulet in a fake commercial advertising a series of crooned ringtones and, during the performance of the song "Little Sister" by musical guests Queens of the Stone Age, Will came on stage playing the cowbell.
Will became the highest paid cast member of Saturday Night Live in 2001 with a season salary of $350,000.
During his time on Saturday Night Live, Will appeared in several movies: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, The Ladies Man, Dick, Drowning Mona, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Zoolander.
His first starring role came after his departure from SNL with Frank "The Tank" Richard in Old School (2003). The movie "belongs to Mr. Ferrell," declared the New York Times, which described how he "uses his hilarious, anxious zealotry to sell the part." Old School was a major success and Will received an MTV Movie Awards nomination for Best Comedic Performance.
The title role in Elf (2003) followed, as did another MTV Movie Awards nomination. Will continued to land comedy roles in 2004 and 2005 in films such as Melinda and Melinda, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Starsky & Hutch earning himself a place among Hollywood's Frat Pack. In 2005, Will earned $40 million. In 2006, Will starred in Stranger Than Fiction and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby; both received critical and box office success. Ferrell's performance in Stranger Than Fiction introduced audiences to the dramatic potential of Ferrell's acting talents. On December 27, 2006, 'The Magazine' named Will as one of its three actors of the year in their 2006 year in review issue.
Will appeared as part of a pre-game video package for the Rose Bowl along with Texas alum Matthew McConaughey. Will also sang a song at the ESPY Awards in 2006 about Lance Armstrong and Neil Armstrong, and is often noted as looking very similar to Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.
Will participated in a 79th Academy Awards musical-comedy performance with John C. Reilly and Jack Black, wherein they sang a song about comedies being snubbed by the voters in favor of dramas.
In May 2009 it was announced Will is in talks to star in Neighborhood Watch, a comedy about a urbanite who moves to the suburbs, and uncovers a conspiracy. In negotions to direct is David Dobkin, who gave Will a cameo in the Wedding Crashers.
Will has worked as a voice actor in several animated television programs, including his portrayal of Bob Oblong, a 1950s-style father with no arms or legs, in the short-lived animated television series The Oblongs. He has had several guest appearances on Family Guy, where he played the Black Knight in "Mr. Saturday Knight", as well as Fat Greek Guy and Miles "Chatterbox" Musket in "Fifteen Minutes of Shame". Will also starred as Ted (a.k.a. The Man in the Yellow Hat) in the movie Curious George and guest voiced on an episode of the FOX sitcom King of the Hill as an overly-PC soccer coach.
In April 2007, Will launched "Funny or Die", a streaming video website where short comedy films are uploaded and voted on by users. The site features The Landlord, starring Will and Funny or Die co-founder Adam McKay. Ferrell's character is harassed for the rent by his landlady, a swearing, beer-loving, two-year-old girl (played by McKay's daughter, Pearl). Child psychologists have criticized Will and the McKays for child exploitation, to which McKay responded:
Fortunately she is in this great stage now where she repeats anything you say to her and then forgets it right away, which is key. She has not said the 'B-word' since we shot the thing.
They followed with the release of a video entitled "Good Cop, Baby Cop" which also starred baby Pearl; the end of the video stated that this would be her final appearance and wished her a happy "baby retirement."
In September 2008, Will released another video entitled "Will Ferrell Answers Internet Questions" where he takes some pressing questions and comments from his fans.
Will made his Broadway debut taking on departing U.S. President George W. Bush in a new one-man show called You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush. The show started performances on January 20, 2009 in previews — Bush’s final day in office — at the Cort Theatre and opened officially on February 1. The limited engagement played through March 15, 2009.
Will co-produces and co-writes (with Adam McKay) a HBO show starring Danny McBride called East Bound and Down.
In August 2000, Will married Swedish actress Viveca Paulin, whom he met in 1995 at an acting class. On March 7, 2004, their son Magnus Paulin Will was born. On December 30, 2006, the couple had another son, Matthias Paulin Ferrell.
In 2006, I-Newswire.com, a site which accepts press releases from users for publication, reported that Will had died in a paragliding accident. The hoax was published before its factual inaccuracy was noticed. The story was further propagated when it appeared on Google News.
Will is a fan of USC Trojan football, At USC, Will was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity and is now an active alumnus. Will has worked with head coach Pete Carroll to do motivational stunts for the players during the season.
Will enjoys running and has participated in several major marathons such as the Boston, New York and Stockholm Marathons.
In 2007, Autograph magazine named Will the worst celebrity autographer. Its editor stated, "What's so frustrating about Will Ferrell being the worst autograph signer this past year is that he used to be so nice to fans and collectors and a great signer. What makes him so bad is that he'll taunt people asking for his autograph." In response, Will has stated, "I don't know how I got on the list. I sign a lot of autographs," but has admitted to taunting autograph-seekers: "I do. I really do. I'm like, 'How badly do you want this autograph?' 'Are you sure?' 'You say you're my biggest fan, really, prove it.' I'll do things like that. They have to earn it."
Will had noted that, although he was well known for his SNL impersonation of President George Bush, he chose not to meet the President on several occasions, unlike his SNL predecessor Dana Carvey's famous chummy relationship with George H. W. Bush, for both professional and political reasons: "I declined, partly out of comedic purposes, because when I was on the show Saturday Night Live at the time, it didn't make sense to really meet the people that you play, for fear of them influencing you. And then the other side of it is, from a political standpoint, I don't want to meet that guy."
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