Earlier this summer came gossip reports — erroneous, as it turns out — that things had become downright hostile between co-stars Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell after shooting"The Campaign," a broad political satire that comes just as election season is heating up. Considering their low-key but prankish nature on display when they arrived in Chicago last month, one could imagine a scenario wherein both decided to start a rumor about their non-falling-out just for kicks.
Like politicians on a campaign trail, they were midway through a cross-country press junket and had that dazed look in their eyes that tends to appear when the itinerary is little more than a list of different cities each day.
Last seen together matching bizarre wits on Galifianakis' interview spoof "Between Two Ferns" (which can be found on Ferrell's comedy website Funny or Die), they arrived at Wrigley Field, where they would be throwing out dueling first pitches. (Later, they would also have a pizza delivered to the pitcher's mound.)
Earlier in the afternoon, with batting practice taking place down below, they sat down in an owner's suite for an exceptionally friendly conversational exercise in attention deficit disorder. As we arranged ourselves around an empty table covered in a white tablecloth, Farrell decided the setting resembled a dinner table about to served: "We've got a brisket coming out," he said, while Galifianakis sprinkled ground pepper on his water bottle.
Q: Uh, what are you doing?
Galifianakis: Actually, black pepper in white wine is really good.
Q: Are you being serious?
Galifianakis: I'm being totally serious.
Q: How does one come upon the idea of sprinkling black pepper in their wine?
Galifianakis: Bored by yourself drinking white wine and there's a pepper shaker in front of you, that's how.
Ferrell: I think this interview is over.
Q: OK, let's move on! You're on your campaign promoting "The Campaign," and you guys do this often for your films, traveling from city to city. Does it feel like political campaigns have a similar feeling to them?
Galifianakis: We were talking about this, and I feel like we are campaigning for something simply because of the running all over the country and hopping on planes and getting off and waving.
Ferrell: Well, you do these tours, but you don't have the staged events that these politicians are having. You just go from the plane to the hotel, where you're interviewed, and back again.
Q: You're sequestered a little bit.
Galifianakis: Yes. Whatever that means.
Ferrell: What does that mean? Is that one of the events in the Olympics? The sequestrian?
Galifianakis: Yes, you ride a horse backwards and shoot with your rifle.
Q: If you could change anything about our electoral process or the way campaigns work, what would that be?
Galifianakis: Lower the voting age to 4.
Ferrell: (In character) I think our system's working perfectly. (Galifianakis bursts out laughing) And if it ain't broke, don't fix it — and if you don't like it, get out of this country.
Q: So you've enjoyed the last two years watching people campaign for president?
Ferrell: I think it's going so smoothly ... (stepping out of character). No, I don't know if the media would allow us to change it, because they love the money generated off of covering things for two years.
Q: In the U.K., it's so much shorter — and cheaper. It's literally just a matter of weeks and then people vote.
Ferrell: I would love that. It would make you focus for that period of time and you make your decision, and then you're done with it. It's interesting — you would think politicians wouldn't want to have to campaign that long. So why aren't they the ones to impose these limits? But they won't do it, so it leads me to believe that everyone's in on this together.
Q: What about this idea that politicians almost have to look like mannequins? In the movie, you both have terrible haircuts. It's almost like news-anchor hair.
Galifianakis: Obama's hair is good because it's cropped short and its graying now, and that's kind of a cool look. But yeah, these coiffed guys with the parts ...
Ferrell: Can you imagine a candidate with a goatee and shoulder-length hair? Sideburns? Someone would write a thing about it and the handlers would be worried that people in the middle of the country just don't like that.
Galifianakis: There's a senator's wife or girlfriend who has a tongue or a nose ring. I always thought that was amazing. Dennis Kucinich, from Ohio.
Q: Did you specifically ask for cheesy-looking hairstyles?
Ferrell: In the case of my character, yes, absolutely. I literally said, "Make a wig likeJohn Edwards'hair." With my character, one of the things he's focused on most is his hair.
Q: You have curly hair — and it occurs to me, you don't really see men with curly hair elected to higher office.
Ferrell: No, that's right! I think people hate curly hair. There's an adverse reaction. (George W.) Bush was a little wavy. But not curly.
Galifianakis: If you see earlier pictures of him when he was out and about when he was a younger man, it was curlier. They probably flat-ironed his hair.
Q: Of the actors who have become politicians, who has caught your attention?
Galifianakis: I thought Fred Thompson (former U.S. Senator and "Law & Order" regular), if you followed his presidential run from a few years back, he was like, "God, I have to do all this stuff?" You got the feeling that someone talked him into it.
Q: I always thought Fred Grandy was an interesting case. How do you overcome playing the goofy guy on "The Love Boat" to become a U.S. congressman?
Ferrell: I had a friend who happened to be in an elevator with him. Didn't say anything, just pushed the button. But when they reached his floor he (Ferrell's friend) couldn't resist saying, "Aloha Deck!" And Grandy did not think that was funny.
Galifianakis: I'm with Fred on that one. You know how it is when people yell things out for the rest of your life! Poor Fred Grandy. But it was his fault — he was in his all-whites.
Q: Will, you're here at Wrigley Field, where Harry Caray spent a big chunk of his career. Did it cross your mind that someone would ask you to do a little Harry Caray while you're here?
Ferrell: I'm sure I'll get asked.
Q: And what will you say?
Ferrell: It depends. It's not like something — I don't do him anymore.
Q: You've retired him?
Ferrell: Well, everyone gets the sense that, the few impressions that I've done, that I have a little traveling road show that I run out of my house. You know, speaking to myself in these characters. And I never do that. So when people are like, "What would Harry Caray say about so-and-so," I'm like (dejected), "I dunno."
Galifianakis: The whole time we've been on the road, he will not stop doing his impressions. You should hear his Lorena Bobbitt.
Q: That's an old-school reference!
Galifianakis: I have a ton of references.