Casa de Mi Padre, starring Will Ferrell (speaking Spanish!), opens in theaters nationwide this weekend. Karina Longworth chatted with Ferrell, director Matt Piedmont and screenwriter Andrew Steele for our print story about why this bizarre film exists, and why Ferrell decided to play a Mexican cowboy.
Here are a few things they had to say that didn't make it into the story.
On the inspiration for the film:
Ferrell: Flipping around television and occasionally stopping at one of these Spanish soap operas and watching for a little bit and thinking, God, that's a really arch kind of world. And then at some point it just popped into my head that it'd be really funny and I feel like you haven't seen it, to put kind of myself into that world and also, you know, have someone from American comedy fully commit to a Spanish-language film would be supremely unique. So that's kind of the general idea I'd been carrying around for the longest time, and then we kind of got it all organized a couple years ago.
On learning to speak Spanish:
Ferrell: Patrick Perez, who translated the script from English to Spanish — Andrew had been working with [him]. And he's a really cool guy and then he offered to me, “I'll help you work on your pronunciation.” And so we just started working about a month outside of the beginning of filming. And then he would literally show up at my house at 5:30 in the morning or 6 o'clock, however long it took before we had to drive out to our call time. And we'd just drive in the car together and rehearse that day's lines and then we'd drive home and start on the next day's lines and just had to be this constant immersion in it, you know, to help with memorization and pronunciation, so that was my day-to-day task.
On a career game plan:
Ferrell: I'm just going to try keep being unpredictable in a way. And, you know, hopefully I can keep mixing in movies like these with the big studio films, [that] would be kind of the game plan. But I think movies like these are great opportunities to just show off a whole different side of yourself as actor and keep an audience appreciative that you're willing to take chances.
On working with Ferrell:
Steele: I think what Matt did visually is what I did writing, too, is that when you have Will to work with you know that if you're going to make a left turn visually or you're going to sort of try to surprise people with your writing, you know that he's going to be supportive. Like if you're writing something that's for maybe something a little more commercially oriented, you might sort of freeze up and get a little more scared that [if there are] too many left turns you're going to start losing audience members, whereas with Will there's a kind of encouragement to keep going.
Piedmont: I hate to use “real”…in quotes — comedies are real films as well. … [A movie tends to be] either a serious film with beautiful cinematography or it's a comedy. You rarely see the combination of all these genres.
On who's being made fun of:
Steele: We didn't even want…silly accents or cartoonish, you know, that's just not who we are. Dealing with Diego Luna and Gael Bernal, they're like, you know, incredibly gifted actors. We were honored to have them as a part of our team on this thing. That's really where you're coming at it, so we're careful not to be making fun of anyone. We're making fun of Americans, we make fun of Mexicans — as a comedy, sort of all targets are fair game.
On cinematic antecedents:
Piedmont: Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone, specifically Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. … There's a few inside jokes based on the films of Martin Scorsese that I don't want to reveal — it'd be great to have people figure it out.