Will Ferrell talks to the AV Club about his new film, Everything Must Go, which is based on Raymond Carver’s short story “Why Don’t You Dance?” From the interview—
AVC: Your character in Everything Must Go is a persistent alcoholic who loses his job and his wife in one fell swoop, so the film could have been much darker than it is, especially considering the source. Raymond Carver isn’t known for being quirky and lighthearted.
WF: I probably shouldn’t admit, but I will, that I had never read Raymond Carver prior to this. When Dan gave me the short story, the collection it was in, I read it cover to cover, and I loved the starkness of his writing. But it’s true, it’s pretty dark and alcoholic. It just depends on your filter and where you’re coming from. You mentioned that it could be a lot darker. Other people have said to me, “Wow, this is really dark, especially for you to do.” I was fearful of the shot of the shaky hand reaching for the can, like, “That’s going to come off terrible.” A more skilled actor maybe could do it, but for me, and Dan agreed, we just made sure that everything was underplayed, if anything.
AVC: Actors often say that playing drunk is one of the hardest things to do, and the secret is acting like you’re trying not to look drunk.
WF: Totally. I actually had a buddy of mine come over and film me getting drunk one night, just as an excuse to drink 18 beers, but also to see if there was anything I could glean from that.