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TalkTalk have created this exclusive biography of Will Ferrell - we believe it to be the most comprehensive on the web
The continuing ability of Saturday Night Live to churn out film stars is nothing short of a marvel. Throughout its 30 year history they have come in seemingly endless waves. First came Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. Next would be Eddie Murphy and Jim Belushi, then Mike Myers, Chris Rock and Adam Sandler. And then . . . nothing. Almost a decade of nothing. Until it scored another breakthrough when a 7-year SNL veteran, one the show's most popular performers and certainly the highest-paid in its history, suddenly made his mark in Hollywood, first as a pathetic perennial teenager, then as an over-sized elf. This was Will Ferrell who quickly, incredibly quickly, went on to become one of Tinseltown's most prolific and best-known stars.
He was born John William Ferrell on the 16th of July, 1967, in Irvine, California, just inland from Newport Beach and a few miles south of Los Angeles. His father, Lee, was a musician who joined The Righteous Brothers' band that same year, playing keyboards and saxophone. But, though the group were still riding high on such hits as You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' and Unchained Melody, Lee would soon quit to help raise young Will and his brother Patrick, born in 1970 (once the kids were grown, he'd actually rejoin The Righteous Brothers, playing and touring with them right up to the death of singer Bobby Hatfield in 2003).
Irvine was a rather conservative place, very white, very middle-class, very Republican. But the Ferrells, Lee and wife Kay, a junior college English professor, were slightly outside the norm, living in the town's only apartment complex. Through his parents young Will was made aware of both the importance of education and the possibility of an "alternative" existence and, despite Lee and Kay's divorce in 1975 his natural intelligence and work ethic would make him a top student. He was also a big guy and a fine baseball - and football - player. At football he was a heavyweight defence specialist, always sent on to mark the opposition's top attackers. As the years passed, though, and the violence of the game grew ever more spectacular, he would switch to kicking duties, figuring that the best place for him was the one where opponents were actually penalised for hurting him. Further proof of that intelligence. It was also a worthwhile exercise as the many hours of kicking practice would teach him both to focus and "remain in the moment" - absolutely essential when he'd later move into onstage improv and live TV.
Ferrell's famed sense of humour was also much in evidence during his time at Irvine's University High School. Later describing himself as a "conscientious class clown", he recognised that comedy could boost his popularity, allow him to make friends more easily, and so perfected pratfalling and crashing into doors. And there were more public performances. Towards the end of his schooling, his class president was having trouble selling senior class teeshirts and asked Ferrell to boost sales by making a few announcements over the school's PA system. With a friend he wrote an ad and performed it using the voices of Hans and Franz, characters played by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon on Saturday Night Live (Ferrell was already a big comedy fan, loving Chevy Chase, but especially Steve Martin). Impressed by this success the school principal would now ask Ferrell and his buddy to work their magic on normal campus announcements, for which they invented a series of comedy characters. It wasn't standard procedure, reasoned the principal, but at least students were now listening. Consequently Ferrell and friend would be asked to perform live at school assemblies, usually in outlandish costumes.
Ferrell's senior year would bring another example of his advanced silliness. Along with his friends he wanted to form a club, something out of the ordinary, beyond reading or tennis or stamp-collecting. They thought of a lumberjack club, but eventually settled on a reptile club, where they would watch films about reptiles and each take the name of some scaly beast (Ferrell would be known as Gecko). Such was Ferrell's popularity that the club soon had a huge membership.
Graduating as a member of the class of 1986, Ferrell moved on to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Here, hoping to become a sports broadcaster, he majored in Sports Information, a tough course (no longer in existence) that covered the technical aspects of radio and TV as well as demanding a vast sporting knowledge. Yet Ferrell would still find time to entertain his friends, often turning up at their classes dressed as a janitor, making a deliberate mess of simple tasks as they struggled to keep their concentration. He'd also join a fraternity, becoming Song Chairman and leading his men as they serenaded sorority houses, while also indulging in the usual parties, Hell Weeks and youthful hi-jinx, like getting cheese dip poured down his trousers.
Having earned his degree in Sports Information and served an internship with NBC Sports, he now took a job on a weekly cable show. It was what he had worked for, but it quickly turned out to be not what he wanted. At this point the Rams were still in LA and Ferrell was asked if he fancied going down to interview head coach John Robinson. He was a big fan yet found himself strangely unenthused by the prospect. He realised that his heart wasn't in it. At least his heart wasn't in the serious journalism of the job. While cracking a few jokes during a broadcast he realised that he desperately wanted to be on-camera but not like this, he really wanted to be Chevy Chase - he needed to find another way.
Oddly, the way would find him. While attending a performance by the Groundlings improvisational comedy troupe on Melrose Avenue, Ferrell found himself pulled up onstage and asked to join in. He was terrible (he's never been a Robin Williams type, easily able to access a million jokes or characters - he likes to prepare) but he did have a major revelation. He really missed the buzz he'd got when performing at High School. He left the world of sports broadcasting (though he'd later use much of what he'd learned when he arrived at SNL) and had a stab at stand-up, performing at comedy clubs and student coffee-houses. This wasn't for him either, as he liked to collaborate. He found the other comics on the circuit to be generally bitter folk and far from encouraging. The Groundlings had looked much more fun.
The Groundlings had been founded back in 1972 as the Gary Austin Workshop, teaching improvisation techniques, then gradually transformed into a working troupe, eventually finding a base on Melrose. The Groundlings School of Improvisation started up in 1979 with 17 students - now there are over 300. Many famous names had undergone their training here. Original SNL member Laraine Newman was one, as well as later SNL stars like Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz. Friends' Lisa Kudrow was a Groundling (she was watched by Lorne Michaels who instead gave an SNL place to Julia Sweeney), as was Cassandra Petersen (later to become Elvira, Mistress of the Dark). Best of all, Paul Reubens invented his Pee-Wee Herman character while learning his crazy trade on Melrose. It was a great place to start out, with a strict policy on advancement. Ferrell would have to study at the Groundlings School, then be tested on their Sunday show, before, after about a year, being permitted to join the cast proper. There he would join Cheri Oteri, Chris Kattan and Ana Gasteyer, all of whom would rise with him to SNL. He'd also form Simpatico, a mock troupe of performance artists who would perform in local clubs.
Ferrell would take many jobs to finance this new career. He'd been a valet parking cars at Newport Beach's Meridien Hotel (he'd knocked the roof-rack off a van on his second night), now he spent a year or so as a bank teller. After this he'd take anything going, one Christmas spending 5 weeks as Santa at an outdoor mall in Pasadena with Chris Kattan as his elf sidekick. In just a couple of years this same duo would be performing before a TV audience of tens of millions.
After this tough apprenticeship with the Groundlings, Ferrell's time would come when Lorne Michaels and Saturday Night Live's producers were casting for the 1995/6 season. The network was displeased with the show's ratings and there'd been major changes in the cast, Chris Farley and Adam Sandler having been sacked and Mike Myers having left for Hollywood. The Second City troupes of Canada and Chicago were not really coming up with the goods either, so Michaels came to LA looking for fresh talent. By now Ferrell, Kattan and Oteri were the stand-out performers, and all were auditioned. Ferrell, having heard that Sandler had humped a chair during his audition and been hired on the spot, decided to impress Michaels by taking in a briefcase full of toy money, hoping to fake a bribe. Unfortunately, an appropriate moment never arrived for a hilarious handover and so he left looking like a dork - after all, what kind of wild and crazy guy carries a briefcase?
During the audition, performers were required to act out a celebrity impression, a political impression and a skit featuring a character of their own. Ferrell would use his newscasting experience to take off Harry Carey, broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs, and would do Senator Teddy Kennedy as if he were attempting a stand-up routine. His own creation would be a suburban father who's chatting to his friends at a barbecue, breaking off in increasingly psychotic fashion to berate kids climbing on his shed (all these would later be used on the show proper). At his second audition, reasoning that the show would need someone to play the President, he tried an impression of Bill Clinton. It was enough - he was in.
In fact, 1995 saw him enjoy a major burst of success. Aside from the SNL hiring, he was cast by Larry Mark Hirschfeld (later head of NBC casting) in an evening of one-act plays at a theatre out in the Valley. He would also meet his future wife, Viveca Paulin, a Swedish actress on the same summer acting programme as Ferrell at the South Coast Repertory Theatre in Orange County. Then, within the space of one week, he won three sit-com jobs, in Grace Under Fire, the George Wendt Show and Queen Latifah's Living Single. On top of this there was a brief appearance in the TV horror show Bucket Of Blood, and a pop-up silver screen debut as a newscaster (again!) in Kevin Dillon's low-key Criminal Hearts. And then he was off to New York for SNL, a new city and a fearsome work schedule that, as tradition demanded, saw the cast and writers staying up all night every Tuesday in the hope of comic inspiration.
Oddly, considering how it turned out, after Ferrell's first year at Saturday Night Live he was considered perhaps the worst cast member ever. But he pushed on, perfecting his impressions, increasingly his stock of characters, until he became the performer the writers trusted most, thus winning most of the prime sketches. And so the world would be introduced to nude model Terrence Maddox (once ordered by host Christopher Walken to give "More cowbell!" during a performance by Blue Oyster Cult): Marty Culp, the junior High School music teacher: Craig the over-exuberant cheerleader: Tom Wilkins, the hyperactive co-host of Morning Latte: the professor in the Lovers sketches with Rachel Dratch: and Steve Butabi, hopeless seducer and failed man about town who (along with Chris Kattan) was too dumb to realise what a nightclub embrassment he was. Beyond this he would do impressions of Alex Trebek in mocked-up versions of the gameshow Jeopardy, he'd do Neil Diamond, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Ventura (the ex-wrestler who became governor of Minnesota), crooner Robert Goulet (doing easy-listening covers of hardcore rappers Sisqo and Notorious BIG) and, most famously, George W. Bush. Mercilessly taking off the soon-to-be president in the 2000 elections, Ferrell's impression became as iconic as Chevy Chase's Gerald Ford had been back in the day. Bizarrely, the impression went down well at the White House where aides even took to using Ferrell's expression "strategery" - the term now being taken to mean a governmental oversight in anything from ideological stance to international policy.
As Ferrell's SNL star rose, so did the chances of fulfilling his main dream - to follow influences like Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey first into comedy movies then (with luck) into straight dramatic roles. 1997 saw him begin his upwards march in earnest. First would come Men Seeking Women, where three friends in their thirties each bet $2000 on who will be the first to find a girl and stay with her for three months. Ferrell's Al would be naive, even childish, but possessed of a terrible temper. He'd be cruel to Nia Vardalos (later to find fame with My Big Fat Greek Wedding) then endure a series of dates where he suffered karmic retribution. Next he'd score a small but impressive part in Mike Myers' spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery, playing Mustafa, Moroccan assassin and thuggish henchman of Dr Evil who takes severe punishment from Powers yet somehow cannot be destroyed. A good thing too, as it would allow Ferrell to reappear two years later in Myers' follow-up The Spy Who Shagged Me. Myers would also turn up (as would Jennifer Aniston and several of Ferrell's SNL peers) in Ferrell's next outing, when he took a cameo in The Thin Pink Line, a mockumentary questioning the guilt and sexual orientation of an inmate on Death Row.
Ferrell's ever-increasing dominance at SNL coincided with a rise in the show's popularity. The producers were now confidant enough to consider making more movies on the back of some of the show's characters (it had worked with The Blues Brothers, hadn't it?). And so we were treated to A Night At The Roxbury, featuring the hapless Butabi brothers of Ferrell and Chris Kattan. All the tricks were pulled. They snapped their heads in unison to the music, they tried relentlessly and pathetically to be cool, but still it was just a painfully stretched sketch, poorly written and maniacally performed. Uber-critic Roger Ebert described it as "the first comedy I've attended where you feel that to laugh would be cruel to the characters". But some good did come of it all. Firstly, the SNL connection made it a minor hit. Secondly, when Ferrell finally loses his cherry in the movie it's to Viveca Paulin. In real life their relationship would go from strength to strength, and they'd marry in 2000, Paulin giving birth to son Magnus four years later, and Mattias, a second boy, in 2006. By this time she'd become an art auctioneer in LA.
1999 would see Ferrell carefully building his experience. The Suburbans would see him as the anally retentive bass-player of the titular band, one-hit wonders back in the Eighties. Ferrell's wedding would bring the guys back together again and they're persuaded to make a comeback by industry babe Jennifer Love Hewitt, thus falling into the hands of warped record exec Ben Stiller. It was fairly weak stuff, Ferrell's character being given few lines. A little better would be Dick where two young girls (Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams) accidentally become embroiled in the Watergate scandal and turn out to be the mysterious informer Deep Throat (it would be six years before Deep Throat's real identity became known). Ferrell would play Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward - pompous, self-important and constantly competing with his partner Carl Bernstein (concidentally, in 2005, the same year Deep Throat was finally named, Ferrell would star in Bewitched, directed by Nora Ephron, former wife of Carl Bernstein).
Despite a clever script, Dick did not do well, unlike the infinitely inferior Superstar. This was another SNL effort, this time showcasing Molly Shannon's plain and resentful Irish Catholic schoolgirl Mary Katherine Gallagher. Desperate to not be rubbish, she dreams of a glamorous lifestyle and attempts to win a school talent contest and a kiss from Ferrell, as Sky Corrigan, the campus football hero. Once again, the sketch did not stretch.
From here until he ended his tenure at SNL, Ferrell would deliver only on-screen cameos. In Drowning Mona he'd play a creepy funeral director, questioned (as is everyone else) by sheriff Danny De Vito when town harridan Bette Midler is killed. The Ladies Man was yet another SNL effort, this time featuring Tim Meadows' funky Seventies-obsessed DJ who seduces every woman he can, thus building a posse of male enemies. Ferrell would pop up as Lance DeLune, a Greco-Roman-style wrestler cuckolded by Meadows, who seems suspiciously keen on his wrestling partner. Following this, he'd appear as a crazily straight-laced federal marshal, pursuing the title characters across country in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back. Better would be his weird and wicked fashion mogul Jacobin Mugatu in Ben Stiller's Zoolander, who plans to brainwash Stiller's dopey model and force him to assassinate the president of Malaysia (a politician wishing to do away with the child labour systems that generate so much of Mugatu's profits). Finally would come an uncredited performance in Boat Trip where he'd play a miffed travel agent who vengefully books a lovelorn Cuba Gooding Jr and his mouthy buddy onto a gay cruise.
The 2001/2 season of SNL would be Ferrell's last. By this time he'd achieved almost total domination of the show and been Emmy-nominated for both his writing and performance (very rare, despite the shows longrunning popularity). Lorne Michaels would say of him "Will is the glue that holds the show together. He's the first choice of the writers for almost every sketch. His style is not so strong that it overwhelms the writing". High praise indeed from the normally reticent Michaels and it explains why the producers paid Ferrell a record $350,000 for that final season.
As well as being the highest-paid cast member in the show's history, Ferrell was also the first to receive a grand farewell from his fellow members. His last show was aired on May 18th, 2002, and was hosted by Winona Ryder, making her public comeback after being arrested for shoplifting. Alex Trebek would arrive for the final Jeopardy spoof, Neil Diamond would make an appearance, too. It was unarguable proof of Ferrell's standing in the world of TV comedy.
This status would soon be replicated in Hollywood, but Ferrell needed to step away from the dodgy environs of SNL movies to take his big step up. Instead, he aligned himself with a different set of performers - the Wilson brothers, Vince Vaughn, Jack Black, Ben Stiller - and success was almost immediate. It began with Old School, a roustabout movie updating the SNL classic Animal House. Here Ferrell, Vaughn and Luke Wilson played three guys who, unhappy with their lot in the adult world, decide to form a fraternity at the local college and have some beery kicks. Ferrell (the only one of the actors who was a Frat-boy in real life) would stand out as Frank the Tank, recently married and missing the bachelor life, who drinks like a fish, streaks like a maniac and, most hilariously, shoots himself with a tranquilizer gun and flops into a pool. It was one-dimensional fun but a big hit.
Ferrell was starting a roll, yet even he could surely not have predicted how rapidly he would rise. His next movie, Elf, would see him carry a film for the first time when he played Buddy, a human being raised as an elf at the North Pole. Eventually noticing that he's a good four feet taller than all the others, he goes on a quest to find his real parents, his biological father turning out to be tough New York publisher James Caan. Thus we see Ferrell stroll the mean streets of the Big Apple in an absurdly tight green suit and engage in a sweet romance with shop girl Zooey Deschanel, all the while trying to win the love of his exasperated dad. It could so easily have been a disaster but, lifted by the smart direction of Jon Favreau and fine performances by Ferrell, Caan and Mary Steenburgen, it was an unexpected charmer and a massive money-spinner, taking a huge $173 million at the US box office and keeping Russell Crowe's epic Master And Commander from top spot.
Ferrell was on his way. Next he'd join his buddies Owen Wilson, Stiller and Vaughn in their adaptation of Starsky And Hutch, playing an oddball jailhouse snitch with depraved sexual predilections ("Arch your back and look back at me over your shoulder, like a dragon"). Then they would join him in his next solo smash, Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy. Drawing once more on his broadcasting experience, which he'd used to full effect during his years on SNL, this saw him as a star news anchor in 1970s San Diego who battles with rival news teams and incoming female newsreader Christina Applegate. For the most part it was straight satire (with many loony moments, of course) and its treatment of the period's sexism was especially funny ("I read somewhere that their periods attract bears") - so more praise was due to Ferrell who'd written the piece with Adam McKay, a Groundlings writer who'd been promoted to SNL at the same time as Will.
Interestingly, Anchorman had been pitched to the major studios over 20 times before the success of Old School and Elf prompted Dreamworks to pick it up. They were not disappointed as the movie didn't just take $84 million at the US box office, it also spawned another movie, cobbled together from out-takes and sub-plots cut from the original, that would feature as an extra on the Anchorman DVD.
Ferrell's desire to be taken seriously as an actor would now be boosted by an invitation to appear in Woody Allen's next feature, Melinda And Melinda (he actually replaced Robert Downey Jr). This would be based on an argument as to whether the world is comic or tragic, and would cut between two radically different versions of the same story, both involving adultery inspired by the arrival of the titular Melinda (Radha Mitchell) in the lives of two couples. The comic plot would see Ferrell taking on Woody Allen's neurotic persona as an out-of-work actor, unhappily married to indie film-maker Amanda Peet, who falls for downstairs neighbour Melinda but, by the time he does anything about it, she seeing someone else, leaving him to moon after her, unaware that she's mooning after him. It would take Ferrell away from his usual nuttiness, but would allow a few big moments, as when he eavesdrops on Mitchell when she's in bed with another guy, and when he nears ecstasy when catching his wife being unfaithful.
2005 would be a major year for Ferrell, with an amazing succession of releases. First he'd reunite with the Wilson brothers, taking a cameo in The Wendell Baker Story. Here Luke Wilson would play the sardonic slacker of the title, who loses girlfriend Eva Mendes to Ferrell's grocery store owner and then must save a home full of old people from exploitative head nurse Owen Wilson (Mendes had actually had a brief role in Ferrell's A Night At The Roxbury). A more prominent performance would come in Kicking And Screaming when he'd take on domineering dad Robert Duvall as a rival coach in a kids' soccer league. This was cute stuff, with Ferrell permitted to occasionally explode as a caffeine addiction takes hold, but he also proved he was capable of vulnerability. The public were certainly taking to him, as he was now reckoned to be the Number 9 box office draw in the States.
Following Kicking And Screaming would come Nora Ephron's Bewitched, a reworking of the famed TV series. Here Ferrell would star as Jack Wyatt, a movie star at a low ebb, who decides to rekindle his career by reviving the TV show. Unfortunately, he has trouble finding an actress who can pull off Samantha's nose wiggle and, when he finds someone who can do it, it turns out to be Nicole Kidman, a real-life witch who's trying to find happiness in the normal world. Jim Carrey had been the first choice for the Wyatt role and, as if to match him, Ferrell put in a supercharged performance, turning Wyatt into an egomaniacal monster capable of shouting "Make me 200 cappuccinos! Bring me the best one!" He'd also go slightly overboard when rejoining Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in The Wedding Crashers, another huge hit where Wilson and Vaughn would play good-time guys who like to score free food, wine and women by gatecrashing wedding receptions. Ferrell would pop up as the freeloading guru Chaz Reingold, a man so brilliant at crashing parties he's taken to seducing women at funerals, just for the challenge. Though short, his role would showcase the best and worst of Ferrell, hilarious for the most part, but crassly over-the-top at the end when simulating sex by the graveside.
Following this would come a further baby step into "serious" acting. In Winter Passing, Ferrell's Elf co-star Zooey Deschanel would play a coke-addicted New York actress who's offered $100,000 by an editor if she can provide letters written between her famous author dad (Ed Harris) and now-dead mum. So she goes home to find the letters, meeting a bunch of oddball characters, including Ferrell as a still-aspiring rocker whose career highpoint is singing Eagles covers at open-mic nights. It was another comic role, but the character had secrets and a deep sadness that forced Ferrell beyond his usual boundaries. This could not be said of his role in The Producers: The Movie Musical where he took on Kenneth Mars's part as Franz Liebkind, the blustering, psychotic Nazi playwright whose Springtime For Hitler is primed for failure by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. Still, Ferrell would receive a Golden Globe nomination for his efforts.
Six movies in one year made Ferrell's one of the most-recognised faces in cinema. Now he would slow down a tad, releasing just three movies in 2006. First he'd follow Mike Myers into the minefield of comic characterisations when playing the Man With The Yellow Hat in Curious George, attempting to save a New York museum with help from the titular chimp, the film being based on the books by Hans and Margaret Rey. Next would come another huge comedy hit with Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby where he'd star as a champion NASCAR racer, hilariously smug and arrogant till he loses everything and must battle to regain his position from Sacha Baron Cohen's flamboyantly gay Frenchman.
After this, Ferrell moved on to Stranger Than Fiction where he'd play an IRS auditor who suddenly becomes the subject of an ongoing commentary only he can hear. What's happening is that novelist Emma Thompson is writing her latest tragedy, unaware that Ferrell had magically become her protagonist and is uncontrollably guided by the words she writes. When she suggests that the events occurring will lead to his death, he seeks help from barmy English professor Dustin Hoffman, while falling for Maggie Gyllenhaal, the young woman whose accounts he's supposed to be auditing. It was fascinating stuff and, just as Jim Carrey had benefited from Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, so Stranger Than Fiction brought Ferrell a newfound critical respect, as well as a second Golden Globe nomination. Beyond this, the film would prove a major rental hit, in its first week outperforming Martin Scorsese's Oscar-laden The Departed.
Now a massive star commanding $20 million wage packets, Ferrell was forced to limit his releases. 2007 would see him only in Blades Of Glory, set in the world of ice skating. Here he'd be a star skater but also a freewheeling sex-addict bad boy, his personality bringing him into fierce conflict with his more graceful rival Jon Heder, who'd recently broken through with Napoleon Dynamite. A brawl finds them both banned from competition, so they exploit a loophole in the rules and join up for the Pairs, the film's humour stemming from their mutual dislike and, as so often with Ferrell's films, the macho man's immense discomfort with homosexuality. It was, naturally, another $100 million smash. And perhaps even more successful would be Ferrell's excursions onto the Internet in 2007. Collaborating with Adam McKay, director of both Anchorman and Talledega Nights, Ferrell would launch the Funnyordie site, dedicated to new comedy clips. The first clip up on the site would be The Landlord, where Ferrell, playing a tenant behind on the rent, is visited by his beer-swigging, foul-mouthed landlord, played by McKay's 2-year-old daughter, Pearl. With the clip being viewed over 36 million times, the duo would then team up for Good Cop, Baby Cop, stretching the joke even further by having Pearl trying to extract a confession from Ferrell's criminal.
Talledega Nights and Blades Of Glory had clearly convinced Ferrell (like Adam Sandler before him) that there was comic gold to be found in the world of sport. He was also still keen to mine the gaudy 1970s, and both fields would be covered in his next major release, Semi-Pro, written by Scot Armstrong, who'd earlier provided screenplays for Starsky And Hutch and Old School. Here Ferrell would play the owner, coach and star player of a basketball team in Flint, Michigan.
In just a few short years Will Ferrell had gone from a popular TV show to worldwide stardom, now being famed for his manic star turns and showstealing cameos. The question now would be whether he could live that dream and match Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey in delivering consistently successful straight performances. Considering the way he worked to transform himself into a comic in the first place, his chances must be good.