"I'm not really an exhibitionist. I'm drawn to the outrageous stuff because it's fun, not because it's some deep compulsion. I'm no tortured, anger-stoked, deeply neurotic comic -- just a pretty low-key normal guy. A 'hey, the glass is half-full' kind of a guy. But please keep it quiet, or I may never work again." Will Ferrell
Comedian and actor Will Ferrell rose to fame when he became the regular cast member of NBC's top-rated show, Saturday Night Live, from 1995 to 2002. In the show, he was popular with his impersonations of such icons as Alex Trebek, Jesse Ventura, Charlton Heston, Mark McGwire, George W. Bush and Janet Reno. He was also noticed for being the highest-paid player for the SNL.
Ferrell later graced the silver screen and was recognized while starring in the 2003 films Old School and Elf, as well as in the 2004 film, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
Childhood and Family:
John W. Ferrell, who would later be popular as Will Ferrell, was born on July 16, 1967, to parents Lee Ferrell (keyboardist and saxophonist for the Righteous Brothers and Kay Ferrell (teacher). His brother is actor Pat Ferrell, who was born in 1970.
Born in Irvine, California, Will attended the local high school and announced the school's morning news in different voices. He felt broadcasting beckon and continued his studies at the University of Southern California. Will, who is a member of the Delta Tau Delta international fraternity, graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor degree in Sports Information.
In 1995, Will met his acting classmate, Swedish actress Viveca Paulin (born in 1969) and the couple began dating in 1996. Will and Viveca exchanged wedding vows in 2000 and have one son, Magnus Paulin Ferrell (born on March 7, 2004). Will currently maintains residence in Los Angeles and New York City.
Originally considering being a newscaster, Will Ferrell landed his first job being the sportscaster for a weekly cable show and found himself creating more comedy than broadcasting news. Realizing his comedy instinct, Ferrell then signed up with the Los Angeles' comedy improv group, the Groundlings, where he was united with then-Saturday Night Live fellow cast member, Chris Kattan. While joining the group, Ferrell appeared as a guest on several shows, including Grace Under Fire and Living Single. After his unaccredited role in the film Criminal Hearts (1995), Ferrell appeared in his first TV movie, Bucket of Blood.
Ferrell's big break came in 1995 when the Groundling fellows recommended him for an audition for the NBC's hit, Saturday Night Live. Despite his disappointing initial audition performance, Ferrell eventually managed to prove his wit and skill and became one of the most memorable Saturday Night Live cast members ever. He attracted audiences' attention with his characterization of such famous people as Alex Trebek, Jesse Ventura, Charlton Heston, Mark McGwire, and Janet Reno. Moreover, he earned an Emmy nomination for his impersonation of George W. Bush during the 2000 elections. He was also involved in all the Saturday Night Live movies since his opening performance in 1995.
"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." Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live producer)
While performing for the show, Ferrell expanded his comic talent to the big screen. He starred as Al in Jim Milio's Men Seeking Women (1997), and shared the screen with actors Pamela Gien, Grant Shaud, and Starr Andreeff. He was later noticed while portraying crooked Mustafa in Jay Roach's Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997, starring Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley) and reprised the role in its second installment, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999, starring Mike Myers and Heather Graham).
In the next years, Ferrell played lead roles in the SNL spin off films, played Steve Butabi in A Night at the Roxbury (with Chris Kattan) and played Sky Corrigan/Jesus in Superstar (alongside Molly Shannon). He also played comic parts in several films like character Darren Clark in The Thin Pink Line (alongside Carrie Aizley and Jennifer Aniston), Gil in Donal Lardner Ward's The Suburbans, and Bob Woodward in Dick (opposite Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams). On the small screen, besides performing for SNL, Ferrell guest starred in shows like King of the Hill, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and The Tom Green Show.
Ferrell's comedy film work continued to roll in. He joined Danny DeVito in Nick Gomez's Drowning Mona (2000), Jason Mewes and Ben Affleck in Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), and Ben Stiller in his Zoolander (2001). He also costarred with Tim Meadows in another SNL spin off film, The Ladies Man, and lent his voice on the brief-running series, The Oblongs.
In 2002, Ferrell decided to resign from Saturday Night Live in order to pay serious attention to film work. Ferrell starred as Frank Ricard in Todd Phillips' Old School and played the lead role of Buddy in Jon Favreau's Elf (costarring James Caan and Bob Newhart). During 2004, Ferrell played roles in numerous films, including portraying San Diego's top rated newsman of the 1970's, Ron Burgundy, in Adam McKay's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (opposite Christina Applegate) and played Hobie in Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda (costarring Radha Mitchell).
Recently in 2005, Ferrell landed roles in the Wilson brothers' The Wendell Baker Story and portrayed kids' soccer team coach, Phil Weston, in Jesse Dylan's Kicking & Screaming (teamed with Robert Duvall).
A string of comedy films are waiting for Ferrell, including the film version of the Tony Award-winning musical play, The Producers: The Movie Musical (along with Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and Uma Thurman) and the animated Curious George. He will also act in Bewitched (opposite Nicole Kidman), The Wedding Crashers (starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn), and Winter Passing (with Zooey Deschanel). Other upcoming film work includes David Mamet's Joan of Bark: The Dog that Saved France, Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny (starring Jack Black and Kyle Gass), Talladega Nights (also co-wrote the film), and Stranger Than Fiction (joined with Dustin Hoffman and Queen Latifah).