On screen, Will Ferrell tones down his usual wacky antics to play mild-mannered IRS agent Harold Crick, who hears the voice of a novelist (Emma Thompson) narrating his life in Stranger Than Fiction. But off screen, thankfully, he’s as loony as ever. We caught up with the actor at the movie’s L.A. premiere last month, where he gave us the scoop on his fashion sense, the people in his head, and his Oscar chances.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: At the premiere for Talladega Nights, you wore the Crystal Gayle T-shirt from the movie, and tonight you’re in a suit from Stranger Than Fiction. Are you just going to keep raiding the costume closet for your premiere outfits?
WILL FERRELL: You are the first person who noticed! Honestly, you are observant. Why buy my own clothes? I know the ones from the film will fit me. I?m not that into clothes. There were 50 suits. We burned 47 of them to raise the value of the remaining three in case I needed to ever auction them on eBay if I hit hard times.
Are you anything like Harold?
Yes, I have a bit of germaphobia. I have a Howard Hughes thing going on. I am a shut-in. I avoid going outside. I live in a hermetically sealed box. I’m fairly boring. I can tell time. And I have the same taste in fashion.
And do you hear voices?
Yes. A Vietnamese family lives in there. They’re my friends. I also often hear my dogs’ voices and they are always saying, ”Feed me.”
You’re a lot more subdued in this movie. Was it hard keeping your wilder nature reined in?
I think it is great to do something different. It is a welcome change… It was a lot of fun for me, and it was a challenge to not go overboard. This is like a real movie. There are dramatic moments, and it may even make a few people cry. I don?t think there is one fart joke, even. I even get the girl and a makeout scene. This was not written with me in mind. I didn?t come up with the idea, so I had to really work to be a part of this film. The script came first. As soon as I read it, I knew I wanted to do it and I needed to jump through a few hoops to get to the director [Marc Forster] and convince him I was the one to be Harold.
So what would you say to someone who thinks you could get an Oscar nomination for this film?
I?d say they were drunk.
If there was narration at this very moment for what you are doing…
It would say… [A certain Grey’s Anatomy star walks past] ”He saw Kate Walsh and she looked pretty tonight.”
What’s it like being stuck under an exclamation point?
It’s not bad, really. You just have to go to a zen place.
What’s up next for you?
My ice-skating film Blades of Glory. It’s going to be a return to juvenile comedy and Lycra for me. Then I am doing an ABA basketball movie. And I am working with [Talladega Nights and Anchorman writer-director] Adam McKay again, because I love that guy. We are writing a movie about stepbrothers. I think I have convinced my Talladega costar John C. Reilly to be in it. We had such a good time working together before, so we figured we should do it again.