Will Ferrell Talks George Bush, Eastbound & Down

Will Ferrell’s looking distinctly unpresidential in his 2009 New Year glitter glasses and flap hat.

The 41-year-old Saturday Night Live alum insists the glasses are prescription and he’ll be wearing them until he needs a new pair.

If anyone else went on this riff, you’d probably be yawning or checking out the latest iPhone app until it stopped. Ferrell not only makes it work, he also gets some solid laughs out of a room full of TV critics gathered to hear Ferrell, Adam McKay and
Danny McBride
talk about their new HBO deal.

Ferrell’s Broadway show, You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush, airs live on HBO on March 14. He’s also producing and guest starring in the HBO series, Eastbound & Down starring McBride (Pineapple Express ). And Ferrell and McBride team up in the upcoming feature film, Land of the Lost.

Ferrell’s first trip to Broadway has been a roaring success, and he caps off his run in March with the live performance of his show. Ferrell says it felt right to go live with the show after so many years of doing Bush on SNL.

Ferrell was first approached by Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels to play Bush when the Texas governor first started his presidential campaign. Ferrell said he agreed mainly because he never thought the gig would last more than a couple of months at best.

“(I thought) he probably won’t win,” Ferrell says.

Instead, Bush was voted into office not once, but twice.

“He just kept kind of gaining momentum in terms of his comedic persona (after he became president),” Ferrell says. “There’s been an incredible combination of some insane news events that he’s had to deal with and obvkously some poor decisions on his part. (Combining that) with his type of personality and the fact that he can’t speak properly makes for a wonderful kind of comedic stew.”

And a thick, rich stew it is. Ferrell latched on to Bush’s funky language skills, and brought the term “strategery” into the lexicon.

Ferrell says the beauty of the Bush Admininstration was tht it never lacked in comedic material from the very beginning of Bush’s bid for the White House

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Bush appeared on SNLduring his first campaign in 2000 after Ferrell had already started his Bush gig. Ferrell was told that Bush and his staff were huge fans of his and Bush would love to meet him.

So he hurried down to the studio to meet the man who would become the president of the United States. Photographers pushed Ferrell into this circle of cameras and people and told him to say “Hi” to Bush.

As cameras clicked away, Ferrell nervously went up and thanked the Texas governor for doing the show.

“And I could just tell he had no idea who I was,” Ferrell says.

After more than eight years, Bush probably knows who Ferrell is now, and that he helped an already promising comic explode.

Ferrell says his favorite SNL Bush skit was “Palm Beach Nights,” written by McKay.

“It was about the vote recount,” Ferrell says. “And the final beat was George Bush playing with a cat toy on the sofa like a cat.”

Ah, good times.

But Ferrell isn’t just resting on his Bush laurels. He’s also producing McBride’s new HBO series, Eastbound & Down and makes a cameo appearance when it debuts at 10:30 p.m. Feb. 15. The comedy series tells the tragic tale of Kenny Powers (McBride), a disgraced former major league pitcher whose bad boy stunts got him kicked out of the bigs. After years of a downward spiral, where he’s lost all his money and torched all his bridges, he’s back in his small town childhood home trying to squeeze the last drop out of his former celebrity status.

He’s at the bottom of the social rung, teaching physical education at his old middle school in North Carolina.

In the series, Powers is given many opportunities to redeem himself.

“He’s in the moment, but he always chooses the path that will lead him further down,” co-star Ben Best, who also serves as a writer/producer on the show, says. “In each episode, he’s thinking this is the lowest a man can get. And then you’ll see it’s like, wait, this is the loest a man can get. And that will just continue.”

You can see where that kind of story would appeal to Ferrell after almost nine years of playing Bush.

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