Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis: Seattle crowd was 'quite a shock'
An interview with the stars of "The Campaign," who visited Seattle to promote their new comedy for the fall political season.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Nicole's calendarLouiefest: My head hurts already. Forty bands on four stages, including a grand finale inviting all guitarists to join in playing "Louie Louie" with the original members of The Fabulous Wailers. There's also food and craft vendors, children's activities and, thankfully, a beer garden. Sunday, 10 a.m. to dusk at LeMay-America's Car Museum, 2702 East D St., Tacoma; $15-$20 per day, $10/ages 11 and younger, includes museum admission (206-369-1024 or www.louiefest.com/Pages/default.aspx).
Tommy D's Lawn Party and Croquet Tournament: Pull together a team of six and dig out your croquet mallets for this Aug. 12 event, to be held from 2 to 6 p.m. at South Lake Union Discovery Center Park. This benefit for Food Lifeline includes the Dahlia Lounge Croquet Buffet, a cocktail garden and music, and a "Tommy Trophy" for the winning team. (Don't ask.) $10 per ticket, $15 at the door (www.tomdouglas.com).
'The Campaign'In theaters Aug. 10. For a review, pick up the Aug. 10 edition of MovieTimes.
Zach Galifianakis and his "The Campaign" co-star Will Ferrell had just escaped a flood of humanity that had filled Pike Place the other week in hopes of seeing the two stars serving coffee at the Local Color cafe.
Galifianakis, 42, walked around an empty restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel, wiping his brow, running his hand through his thick hair, looking very much the wanted man.
And he still was — by the clutch of television and print reporters waiting for their turn with him and Ferrell, 45, in an adjacent private dining room.
"Are you having fun?" I asked him as he strode past.
"No!" he said. "I'm terrible at publicity."
Ah, but there's no getting around it when you're promoting a movie about an election.
"The Campaign" is supposed to be a parody of the current American political machine: skulduggery, outrageous ads, a race for face-time with a baby that, literally, takes it on the chin. There's even a hunting accident.
But based on recent events — namely, Michele Bachmann suggesting that the Muslim Brotherhood was infiltrating the federal government through an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — the truth is increasingly more bizarre than anything these guys could come up with.
"We were thinking that when we first read the script, it seemed so outlandish," said Ferrell, seated at a long table in a gray suit, no tie. "Then when we started filming, we were like, 'We hope this movie goes far enough.'
"We don't know if it does."
Ferrell channeled Bill Clinton's cockiness and the hair of John Edwards in order to play Cam Brady, the smarmy incumbent Congressman from North Carolina ("My hair could lift a car off a baby if it had to," Brady says).
He is challenged by Galifianakis' Marty Huggins, the oddball scion of an old political family who is reluctantly called up to run on the Republican ticket. The character is based on a "fish out of water" guy he knew in high school.
Brady will do anything — and anyone — to keep his seat. Huggins is a small-town tour guide who prances around with his pugs, lives with his pudgy wife and sons, and turns out to have a bit of a fight in him.
Ask about a few of the scenes, and Ferrell and Galifianakis struggle to stay on point. They are two comic geniuses who are exhausted, yet can't quit the schtick.
I started with a scene in which Galifianakis' Huggins asks his family if there is anything they needed to confess before they face the glare of the campaign. One preteen son admitted to shaving the dog and gluing the fur to his body. The other drank beer with a biker neighbor and his wife.
As the scene was being filmed, the writers fed the kids increasingly raunchier lines.
"I was sitting there thinking, 'Oh, God, these children!' " Galifianakis said. "And their parents! Who are their parents?"
"Those kids had the time of their lives," Ferrell said.
"They did," Galifianakis said. "And they were fun to hang out with. They were nice kids, for sure."
"They're not coming to the premiere, are they?"
And so it went.
The talk turned to the issue of same-sex marriage, and the recent revelation that the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain donated $2 million to anti-gay Christian organizations through a foundation; and that company president Dan Cathy was against same-sex marriage.
"Don't people have better things to do?" Ferrell asked. "Gosh."
"But I heard that he serves, like, gay chickens," Galifianakis said. "He serves them to straight people."
"Right, well, no. He has a program," Ferrell said. "He's trying to reindoctrinate gay chickens to get them to be straight."
Do either of them have anything they would have to reveal before they ran for office?
"God, I think all of my skeletons are on YouTube," Galifianakis said. (Do a search for "Between Two Ferns.")
Said Ferrell: "That's the problem. We were just discussing this. If you're two or three years old, you really have to watch yourself with cameras if you plan on being president."
But what would he have to confess?
"In high school, I went to a Chicago concert in earnest," Ferrell said. "I actually bought tickets for a Chicago concert. Paid money."
"Who was performing?" Galifianakis asked.
"Yeah, but who was performing in Chicago? Who was there in the city?"
"I was trying to do a 'Who's on first?' routine," Galifianakis said.
And if they weren't doing this?
"I'd like to be a farmer," Galifianakis said. "If I could figure out how to do it.
He owns 70 acres in North Carolina, where he went to school at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. (Hence the "Wolfpack" reference in his "Hangover" movies.)
Does he grow anything?
"Nothing I can talk about."
Said Ferrell: "Soybeans. In quotes."
Ferrell said he would be a professional skateboarder, like Tony Hawk.
"Never too late to start," Galifianakis said. "You could be Bobby Owl."
"Who's Bobby Owl?"
"You know: Tony Hawk. Bobby Owl."
"God, these are just zinging right by me."
It was time to leave these two to nap, or eat or hit the bar.
Anything they wanted people to know about them?
Ferrell seemed stuck back at the scene at the Market: "It was quite a shock," he said. "We were very flattered by it.
"I don't hate coffee and I don't hate crowds," Ferrell said. "I just feel bad for crowds that have to wait for four hours and barely get a glimpse of the people they came to see."
There is always the movie.
Nicole & Co. appears every Sunday in NW Arts & Life. Reach Nicole at 206-464-2334 or email@example.com.
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Every Sunday, I bring you a conversation with a local who is doing something great, or a great who is doing something local: media personalities, big thinkers, visiting artists, colorful characters and doers of all kinds.
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