Getting Serious With Will Ferrell: Q&A With the Star of Everything Must Go

Adapted and directed by Dan Rush, and based on a short story by Raymond Carver, Everything Must Go stars Will Ferrell as Nick Halsey, a career salesman whose days of being on top are long gone. The same day Nick gets fired, for falling off the wagon one last time, he returns home to discover his wife has left him, changed the locks on their suburban home and dumped all his possessions out on the front yard. Faced with his life imploding, Nick puts it all on the line – or more properly, on the lawn – reluctantly holding a yard sale that becomes a unique strategy for survival. At a recent press junket for the darkly funny film, we talked to Ferrell about his somber role, most treasured possessions, upcoming projects, and an ongoing battle with Paramount Pictures.

You play a much more subdued and less comedic character in this film, are you exploring a darker period in your film?
My blue period… Regardless of whether it’s a darker role, it was just such a unique project and a new challenge for me. It was something I really wanted to try.

There’s such great chemistry in the film between you and the other characters. Did you take the time to meet and bond before filming started?
We didn’t have a ton of time together before we started filming – we didn’t have that luxury. We rehearsed a little bit, but we liked what we saw in auditioning… In between takes we would hang out in front of the house that we were shooting at while they rearranged the furniture. And that’s where we spent the most time getting to know each other.

Do you have any real-life experience yard sales?
I remember going with my mom to a random garage sale as a kid and thinking ‘oh what a cool treasure hunt,’ only to transition as an adult to thinking ‘what a gross place.’ It really is if you think about it.

There isn’t a whole lot of physical or overt comedy in this film. Were you tempted to add in funny moments?
I don’t think you can sit down and begin to read a piece of material like this and earmark it like ‘oh this would be funny. [After I get drunk in the scene,] I should barf on myself here and spice things up.’ The one is evident, so you think of it as a serious piece. And we were very aware of avoiding any false moments. We didn’t want the comedy to come – we wanted it to happen organically and never feel forced or pushed.

If you were to have a yard sale is there any item you wouldn’t be able to let go of and sell?
Probably my speed boat… I don’t know if I have something I couldn’t part with. I had a beer bottle collection. But I got rid of it. Soooo, I’d probably never part with my ESPYs. They’re prominently featured.

What was your experience like debuting the film at Tribeca Film Festival?
It was pretty great – just kind of a fantastic audience to screen a movie for. They were with it every step of the way. I think I’ve only been there once before for Stranger Than Fiction — so to actually be there and spend a full day and be more involved it was great. I loved it.

What’s next for you?
What’s next for me? I’m shooting a movie in the fall with Zach Galifianakis where we’re rival southern politicians in a small congressional district in South Carolina. We’ll release that for the election season next year. It centers around the circus that is modern day politics.

As far as Anchorman 2; you really have to start some sort of email hate campaign to Paramount Pictures because they have told us they’ve run the numbers and it’s not a good fit. We were going to do a Broadway musical and then have a film come out after the show. Everyone loves it except for the studio that owns the rights. The ball is in their courts, but they’re being idiots.

And we also just sat down and were kicking around some ideas possibly for Stepbrothers 2.