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This interview was originally broadcast on August 5, 2010. 'The Other Guys' was just released on DVD.
The inspiration for the new film The Other Guys came from an unlikely source: Bernie Madoff.
Adam McKay, who directed and co-wrote the film, says that he began thinking about the guy who raised questions about Madoff several years before the Ponzi schemer was caught and sentenced to 150 years in prison last year.
"Everyone sort of ignored him and treated him like he was a nudge," the veteran comedy director tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It was that idea: that there are new types of heroes. And that informed the movie and Will [Ferrell's] character, a guy who loves being a paper-pusher."
In The Other Guys, Will Ferrell plays Detective Allen Gamble, a cop who prefers to do desk work instead of anything that could potentially place him in harm's way. But Ferrell's character -- along with his partner, played by Mark Wahlberg -- are soon thrust into the action and must hit the streets in order to solve a case.
Both McKay and Ferrell join Fresh Air to talk about filming their buddy-cop movie -- and how they both prepared beforehand.
"We actually went on a couple ride-alongs with NYPD detectives, and I was asking them, 'Do you have any crazy chase stories?' " Will Ferrell says. "And they basically said, 'No, we kinda lay back and know that they'll probably come back again. So don't try to be a hero. If you want to be a hero, join the fire department.' "
McKay adds that while researching the film, he had difficulty writing scenes that weren't automatically parodies of other cop movies.
"It's a little bit like doing a Western in the sense that [just by] doing it, you're already in the nature of parody, because it's such a well-known genre," he says. "So we just approached the story [thinking] let's just do the best job we can. Let's have fun with some of the beats. But we watched more serious movies like French Connection and Three Days of the Condor and Parallax View -- and then of course Collision Course starring Jay Leno and Pat Morita. That's an actual movie."
Ferrell is an Emmy-nominated comedian who has starred in such films as Old School, Anchorman, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Stranger Than Fiction. He first met McKay on Saturday Night Live, where he was a performer for many years.
McKay got his start with the Second City comedy factory in Chicago before joining Saturday Night Live as a writer from 1995 to 2001. He directed the films Anchorman, The Landlord, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers.