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Funnyman: The Legend of Will Ferrell

Erin McGinn | Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Everyone has a personal favorite Will Ferrell moment. Whether it’s his appearance as Frank the Tank in “Old School,” bopping his head through a car window in “A Night at the Roxbury” or stuck in his glass case of emotion in “Anchorman,” Ferrell has managed to irrevocably touch the lives and hearts of college students everywhere.

Even in his younger years, Ferrell found ways to make his name known. He was a kicker for his high school football team, where he still holds the school record for most field goals made. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Sports Information, and it was only six years later that he would receive the biggest break of his life.

In 1995, Will Ferrell joined the cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” where he quickly became one of their more popular comics. He is fondly remembered by fans for his portrayals of President Bush, as well as Alex Trebek in the “Celebrity Jeopardy!” sketches. Another popular character was night clubber Steve Butatbi, who was then brought to the big screen in the 1998 film, “A Night at the Roxbury.” Ferrell remained a member of the SNL cast through 2002, when he turned to focus on his film career.

Ferrell, as well other members of the “Frat Pack,” rocketed to fame with the smash hit “Old School.” Ferrell went on to enjoy back-to-back box office successes with the feel-good “Elf,” and “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” “Anchorman,” arguably Ferrell’s most popular film, stars Ferrell as a 1970s news anchor. Supported by such cast members as Steve Carrell and Vince Vaughn the film is regarded as a gold-standard of modern comedy.

After the high-flying success of “Anchorman” Ferrell went through a relative dry-spot with the box-office flops “Kicking and Screaming” and “Bewitched.” As the Frat Pack members started going their own separate ways, fans worried that Ferrell had lost his comic magic.

Ferrell might have been down, but he certainly wasn’t out. He came back last year with the hit “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” Starring Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Sacha Baron Cohen, the film enjoyed a lot of success and put Ferrell back in the spotlight as America’s funny man.

Striving to succeed outside of the younger, college crowd, Ferrell starred in the dra-medy “Stranger Than Fiction.” In the film, he plays an IRS agent who hears a narrator in his head plotting his death. Much like Jim Carrey with “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Ferrell proves that his acting talents can go farther than drinking and crotch jokes.

Even though he was excellent in “Stranger Than Fiction,” it’s the low-brow humor where Ferrell truly shines, and he recently returned to the big screen with Jon Heder in “Blades of Glory.” Impatient fans can already begin to look forward to his next film, “Semi-Pro,” which looks to the intricacies of the basketball world, in the same vein that he has already done racing and figure skating.