Hilarious Facts About Will Ferrell

October 7, 2023 | Shannon Quinn

Hilarious Facts About Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell is an actor and comedian best known for his roles in Anchorman, Step Brothers, and Saturday Night Live. He isn’t just a funny guy- there are many layers to the man, the myth, the legend.

“All you have in comedy, in general, is just going with your instincts. You can only hope that other people think that what you think is funny is funny. I don't have an answer but I just try to plough straight ahead.” - Will Ferrell

1. Hidden Talent

As a kid growing up in Irvine, California, no one would have guessed that Will Ferrell would grow up to be a comedian. He played football in High School, and was a typical guy. He was also on the school government, was outgoing and popular, but never tried too hard to be a class clown.

will ferrell

2. #Goals

When he was 10 years old, Will Ferrell was asked to write an essay in school about what he wanted to be when he grew up. He wrote that he wanted to be a professional soccer player, and a comedian whenever soccer wasn’t in season.

Will Ferrell factsFlickr, Gage Skidmore

3. A Morning Person

When he was a little boy, he would wake up very early. Instead of going back to sleep, he would do things by himself. He even played board games like Monopoly against himself.

Will Ferrell factsFlickr, Eva Rinaldi

4. Taking it Literally

Even though he wasn’t trying too hard, Will would still come up with hilarious lines as a teenager. One day, his math teacher told the class, “OK, we’re going to do some exercises.” Will stood up, and started doing jumping jacks right in the middle of class.

Will Ferrell factsShutterstock

5. It Runs in the Family

Performing must run in the Ferrell family, because Will’s father, Lee, was in a band called the Righteous Brothers. He played saxophone and keyboard.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

6. Breaking Up Is Hard

At 8 years old, Will’s parents got a divorce. When asked about his childhood, he explains that both of his parents did it very amicably, and he always tried to look on the bright side. However, as he got older, he saw how his father struggled financially as a musician, which made him want to attend college and focus on a more “realistic” career.

Will Ferrell factsWikimedia Commons

7. This Just In…

In High School, Will Ferrell did the morning announcements. He used this as an opportunity to try out different voices every day. This was great practice for his acting career.

Will Ferrell factsWikipedia

8. Bright Future

Will Ferrell graduated High School in 1986, and attended the University of Southern California, where he studied sports journalism. This obviously came in handy later, when he starred in the movie Anchorman.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

9. Party Hard

While in college, he joined the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. His days of partying on campus must have helped shape his iconic character Frank the Tank.

Will Ferrell Films factsOld School (2003), DreamWorks

10. Growing Thick Skin

Part of the reason why Will Ferrell always held back on showing his funny side when he was a kid was because he was terrified of embarrassing himself in public. The prospect of bombing during standup comedy is, indeed, scary. So, in order to get over his fear, he would purposely put himself in humiliating situations. His first attempt was pushing a projector across his college campus, and allowing his pants to fall down to reveal his butt. He asked his friends to make fun of him loudly, point, and egg on other students to laugh at him. In this way, he got used to people laughing at him in a negative way, and he was able to build up his tolerance to it.

Will Ferrell factsWikimedia Commons

11. The Intern

After college, Will Ferrell scored an internship with NBC in the Sports Journalism department, but he ended up realizing it wasn’t the career path he actually wanted, so he quit. He moved back home with his parents, and started pursuing comedy.

Will Ferrell factsWikimedia Commons

12. The Struggle is Real

After college, Will worked various part-time jobs. He was a waiter, a valet, and bank teller. He says that he was “terrible” at all of these jobs. He lived with his parents until he was 24, when he could finally afford to move out.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

13. Guest Spots

Will Ferrell didn’t make his TV debut until 1995, when he was 28 years old. Some of the first TV shows he showed up on were individual episodes of the sitcoms Living Single and Grace Under Fire. While it wasn’t an ongoing gig, it was enough to make Will feel comfortable on camera.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

14. The Wound Smells Like Almonds

At 30 years old, he made it into his first feature film. He played Dr. Evil’s assassin, “Mustafa” in the 1997 movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

Will Ferrell facts Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), New Line Cinema

15. The Best of the Best

Before making it on TV, he was learning improvisation and comedy at The Groundlings, an acting school in Los Angeles. Other notable alumni from the school are Kristen Wiig, Kathy Griffin, and Lisa Kudrow.

Melissa McCarthy factsWikipedia

16. Don’t Make Me Come Up There!

Will Ferrell’s first audition for Saturday Night Live, he said that roughly 75 people were trying out. He showed them a character he used when performing at The Groundlings, the “Get Off The Shed” guy, and he got the job.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

17. Alternatives

Lorne Michaels is the producer of Saturday Night Live, and he is the main man to impress when it comes to getting on the show. One idea Will Ferrell had to make Lorne laugh was that he was going to walk into the room with a briefcase full of fake money, and open it on the audition table. He was going to begin taking out piles of the money and stacking it in front of Lorne as a “bribe” to get the job, saying, “We all know what really talks, here.” Leave the room, and not come back.

Will Ferrell factsWikimedia Commons

18. Smash Hit

The SNL crew loved his audition so much, that his very first skit on Saturday Night Live was the “Get Off The Shed” character that he created. The audience loved it, and he quickly became a fan favorite.

Will Ferrell factsSaturday Night Live, NBC

19. Over the top

Years later, in an interview with Esquire Magazine, Will Ferrell explained how he analyzes his own comedic technique. Rather than being quick-witted and clever, he takes a funny concept, and takes it one step further. For example, “instead of just yelling at someone in a scene, you’re yelling to the point where you’re losing your voice”.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

20. Terminally Adolescent

Will Ferrell specializes in character-based comedy. The characters he plays are often over-the-top, and he gets laughs from their personalities. His true self is far less goofy, and it is obvious when he is in interviews that his actual personality isn’t anything like the characters he plays on TV and movies.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

21. The Brotherhood

After starring in “Old School”, Will Ferrell ended up in a team of comedians referred to as the “frat pack”. The other members of the “frat pack” include Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Vince Vaughn, Owen and Luke Wilson, and Steve Carell. They all ended up playing in comedies where their characters often needed to do raunchy things. They all eventually broke away from the frat boy reputation with more serious acting roles.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

22. Background Comedy

In 1996, Will Ferrell was in the movie Kingpin as an extra, but he was never given credit. During a scene where Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson were bowling towards the end of the movie, a voice shouts, “Ernie, you’re the man!”...That’s Will Ferrell.

Will Ferrell factsKingpin (1996), Motion Picture Corporation of America

23. Classmates

Will met his wife Vivica Paulin at an acting class in Los Angeles. She has a degree in Art History, and became a professional auctioneer. She is originally from Sweden. They visit Sweden at least once a year.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

24. The Friend Zone

When they first met, Will and Vivica were just friends. Will even began dating another woman, because he didn’t think Vivica wanted to date him. One night, they had a few drinks, and Vivica admitted that she had feelings for him. Will was elated, and immediately began gushing about how he had feelings for her, too. The rest is history.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

25. The Happy Couple

In 2000, Vivica and Will Ferrell were married. They created a happy family together with three dogs, and three kids.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

26. We’ve Got a Good One

In 2001, he became the highest paid Saturday Night Live cast member with a $350,000 per season salary. They knew just how funny he was, and they were desperate to keep him on the show, since they knew he helped the ratings.

Will Ferrell factsSaturday Night Live, NBC

27. Runner’s High

Vivica and Will ran and completed the Boston Marathon in both 2001 and 2003.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

28. Bigger and Better Things

In 2002, he began focusing on acting in movies, and stopped appearing on SNL on a regular basis. He still made multiple cameos up until 2008.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images


In 2003, Will Ferrell starred in the Christmas movie “Elf”. When recalling making the film he said that he was a grown man running around New York City in tights, and seriously questioned if he made a mistake agreeing to the movie. He even became worried it may end his career. However, it did the exact opposite and “Elf” became a holiday classic.

Will Ferrell factsFlickr, Travis

30. Never Again!

In 2013, he was offered $28 million to make Elf 2. He turned it down. That was probably a good choice, because it’s perfect as-is.

Will Ferrell Films factsElf (2003), New Line Cinema

31. I Must Be Traveling On, Now

On Conan O’Brian’s last episode of The Tonight Show, Will Ferrell and his wife Vivica performed a funny cover of the song “Free Bird”. Vivica was 9 months pregnant at the time, and she went into labor hours after the episode finished filming. They gave birth to their third son, Axel that same night.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

32. Comedy Castle

The Ferrell family lives in a house that was once owned by Ellen Degeneres. Although Ellen is known for owning multiple homes and selling them at a profit,  the Ferrells live in an actual house that she once lived in.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

33. The Big Apple

Aside from living in LA, Will Ferrell also owns a loft in New York City. It is a former printing factory from the Victorian Era. They purchased the home in 2010, and had to majorly renovate it.

Will Ferrell factsWikipedia

34. Startup

Will Ferrell co-founded the website FunnyorDie.com with Adam McKay and Chris Henchy. The website has a number of popular series including Zach Galifianakis's  “Between two Ferns”, a mock interview show where Zach asks celebrities uncomfortable questions. The company became so successful, that they began producing TV shows like @midnight.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

35. The Theater

Will won a Tony Award for a play he wrote and starred in called Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush. In an interview on the Nerdist Podcast, he told Chris Hardwick that he was worried that Bush supporters would give him a lot of hate for the parody. However, people universally seemed to love it.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

36. Feelin' the Bern

During the 2016 Us Presidential Election Primaries, he publicly endorsed Bernie Sanders.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

37. A Day At the Beach

In 2009, he decided to help raise awareness for skin cancer research. He sold bottles of sunscreen with images of himself almost fully undressed. Their “brand” names were “Sexy Hot Tan”, “Sun Stroke”, and “Forbidden Fruit”. The proceeds of selling the lotion went to Cancer for College's College Willpowered Scholarship Fund, which helps childhood cancer survivors get a college degree.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

38. Take Me Out to the Ball Game

In 2015, he participated in major league baseball games during spring training. Some of the money from ticket sales also went to Cancer for College.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

39. Getting Serious

Will Ferrell doesn’t just act in comedies. He has starred in a handful of dramatic films, including Everything Must Go in 2010. The story is about a man who is getting a divorce. His wife locks him out of the house, and leaves all of his belongings on the front lawn. When asked about the role in the movie, he responded, “I've never had a yard sale, ever, in my life. I don't know if I ever thought about stuff I would get rid of.”

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

40. #Winning

Comedy acting is extremely hard, and yet it is often not awarded with Oscars. Will Ferrell has won MTV movie awards, a Kid’s Choice Award, and the British Comedy Academy Award.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

41. Yummy

Will loves to cook at home for his family. He days his favorite type to cook is Thai.

Will Ferrell factsShutterstock

42. Well-Deserved Recognition

In 2015, will was immortalized on with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

43. American Idol

When asked about his dream role, Will Ferrell answered that he would love to play Simon Cowell. This makes sense, since he is so good at impressions, and Simon is such an iconic figure in entertainment with a ton of potential for humor.

Will Ferrell factsGetty Images

Sources:  1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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