Adam Mckay


Biography

Though initially thwarted in his desire to become a cast member of the legendary comedy sketch show "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), Adam McKay rose to become one of the most successful voices in modern comedy. After training at Chicago's seminal Second City Theatre, McKay auditioned for "SNL" and was rejected as a performer, though accepted as a writer the following year. It was whi...

Biography

Though initially thwarted in his desire to become a cast member of the legendary comedy sketch show "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), Adam McKay rose to become one of the most successful voices in modern comedy. After training at Chicago's seminal Second City Theatre, McKay auditioned for "SNL" and was rejected as a performer, though accepted as a writer the following year. It was while on the job at 30 Rock that he formed a bond with cast member Will Ferrell that would later bear fruit on the big screen. Starting with 2004's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," the duo honed a formula in which they would co-write, Ferrell would star, and McKay would direct vehicles centering around Ferrell's egocentric, moronic, but ultimately lovable persona. Their next three ventures - "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (2006), "Step Brothers" (2008), "The Other Guys" (2010) - would all break the $100 million mark at the box office. Making a considerable impact in new media, McKay and Ferrell also launched the user-submitted comedy video site "Funny or Die" in 2007, a phenomenon that took off with their offering, "The Landlord." With or without Ferrell, McKay proved himself to be a one of the most important comedic visionaries of the new millennium. After directing a sequel to one of his most beloved films, "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (2013), McKay began to move away from his comfort zone, first by co-writing this blockbuster Marvel superhero comedy "Ant-Man" (2015) and then by co-writing and directing the comedy-drama "The Big Short" (2015), based on Michael Lewis' best-seller about the 2008 financial crisis. For the latter project, McKay won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Adam McKay was born in Philadelphia, PA on April 17, 1968, the son of a professional musician (as was, coincidentally, future partner Will Ferrell). After graduating from the Philly suburb of Malvern's Great Valley High School in 1986, he began performing stand-up in local bars and restaurants, but by his own account, was "atrocious," inspiring one audience member to hurl a bottle at him. He attended Penn State and Temple universities, then moved to Chicago, IL to study improvisational comedy at The IO, or Improv Olympic Theatre, under Del Close, a legendary actor-teacher who had directed Chicago's Second City Theatre, where he trained many future "Saturday Night Live" stars. Other IO alumni around McKay's time in attendance included actors Vince Vaughn, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Andy Dick. In 1992, McKay was one of the cofounders of the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade. He also joined the cast of The Second City Theatre, where some of his most memorable work included "The PiƱata Full of Bees" and his portrayal of political theorist Noam Chomsky as a substitute kindergarten teacher. One of his sketches was included in the Second City 40th Anniversary revue, in which a personnel manager struggles to inform the company Vice President of the VP's low IQ test results without getting fired.

In 1994, McKay auditioned for "SNL" but was rejected as a cast member. But after submitting four politically edged scripts, he joined the writing staff in 1995. Only a year later, he was promoted to head writer, and would remain with the show until 2001, during which time the "SNL" writing team would earn one Emmy and two WGA nominations. McKay encouraged fellow Second City alumni Tina Fey to submit scripts to the show, and she would later take over as "SNL" head writer. Over the years he made numerous on-camera appearances, and had a recurring role as the obnoxious audience member "Keith" who would insult the guest hosts during their opening monologue, sometimes driving the hosts to physically attack him. He also directed the original SNL Digital Shorts, featuring stars such as Willem Dafoe, Ben Stiller and Steve Buscemi.

After leaving the show, McKay teamed up with "SNL" cast member and good friend Will Ferrell to write the feature "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" (2004), which McKay would later direct. The movie featured Ferrell as the titular newscaster, an arrogant moron who eventually learns to outgrow his male chauvinism amidst a cast of office misfits that included Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. Apart from making an small fortune at the box office, it added luster to Ferrell's rising star after his winning performance in "Old School" (2003). Afterwards, McKay was brought onboard as an uncredited writer for Ferrell's next movie, the remake of the 1960s sitcom "Bewitched" (2005), but nothing could save that film from critical evisceration, though it performed decently at the box office. McKay and Ferrell's next major collaboration was "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," featuring Ferrell in his full-on narcissistic-but-loveable persona, only this time in the guise of NASCAR driver. McKay not only co-wrote and directed the film, he appeared onscreen as Terry Cheveaux and contributed songs to the soundtrack; something he would also do for his next two features. Unlike "Bewitched," the film grossed $148 million, received decent critical reviews and reinvigorated Ferrell's fan base.

In April 2007, McKay and Ferrell premiered the comedy video site "Funny Or Die," which featured both original content and videos submitted by users. A number of McKay and Ferrell's friends, including director Judd Apatow, contributed material, but the site's most famous offering came with one of its first, "The Landlord." In the recurring short, McKay's toddler daughter Pearl bullied Ferrell, letting loose a stream of profanities. The short went viral immediately and became the site's first big success. Ferrell and McKay also formed the production company Gary Sanchez Productions, named, as a joke, after a man Ferrell met working at a car wash in Manhattan Beach. The company would produce the duo's subsequent collaborations as well as a number of film and television projects by other filmmakers, including the team of director Jody Hill and actor Danny McBride with "The Foot Fist Way" (2006) and HBO's comedy series "Eastbound and Down" (2009-13).

McKay's next directorial effort, "Step Brothers," reunited Ferrell with "Talladega" co-star John C. Reilly. The actors both played losers who lived at home with their respective single parents; when their parents remarry, the two are forced to live with each other, with disastrous results. It received more mixed-to-negative reviews and grossed less than "Talladega," but still made $100 million. In 2009, the duo took a break from the big screen with the Broadway show, "You're Welcome America: A Final Night with George Bush," featuring Ferrell's Bush impersonation he had famously honed during his years on "SNL." McKay directed and contributed to the material. The show was broadcast live on HBO in March 2009 and broke the house record at The Cort Theater. McKay and Ferrell's next venture, "The Other Guys" (2010), did fare better with critics than "Step Brothers" and racked up $118 million. This time Ferrell was paired with Mark Wahlberg as desk jockey cops who whine that they never see any action, but have their chance to crack a big case when they uncover Wall Street corruption. Returning to one of their most popular earlier films, McKay and Ferrell created the sequel "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (2013). After a period where he focused on producing and screenwriting, including oddball TV comedy projects such as miniseries parody "The Spoils of Babylon" (2014-15) and a deadpan homage to the Lifetime network's notorious docudramas, "A Deadly Adoption" (2015), McKay and longtime pal Paul Rudd rewrote the script for Rudd's debut as a Marvel superhero, "Ant-Man" (2015). McKay's own return to the big screen came with "The Big Short" (2015), a seriocomic depiction of the roots of the 2008 housing crisis that triggered a major recession. McKay's script, co-written with Charles Randolph and based on the best-seller of the same name by Michael Lewis, won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Vice (2018)
Director
The Big Short (2015)
Director
Anchorman 2 (2013)
Director
The Other Guys (2010)
Director
Step Brothers (2008)
Director
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

The Other Guys (2010)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Writer (Feature Film)

Vice (2018)
Screenplay
Ant-Man (2015)
Screenplay
The Big Short (2015)
Screenplay
Get Hard (2015)
Story By
Anchorman 2 (2013)
Screenplay
Anchorman 2 (2013)
Source Material
The Campaign (2012)
Story By
The Other Guys (2010)
Screenplay
Step Brothers (2008)
Screenplay
Step Brothers (2008)
Story By
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Hustlers (2019)
Producer
Booksmart (2019)
Executive Producer
Vice (2018)
Producer
Ibiza (2018)
Producer
Holmes and Watson (2018)
Producer
Daddy's Home 2 (2017)
Producer
The House (2017)
Producer
The Boss (2016)
Producer
The Brothers Grimsby (2016)
Executive Producer
Sleeping With Other People (2015)
Producer
Daddy's Home (2015)
Producer
Get Hard (2015)
Producer
He's Fuckin' Perfect (2015)
Producer
A Deadly Adoption (2015)
Executive Producer
Tammy (2014)
Producer
King Dork (2014)
Producer
Anchorman 2 (2013)
Producer
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
Producer
Casa De Mi Padre (2012)
Producer
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012)
Producer
The Campaign (2012)
Producer
The Dictator (2012)
Executive Producer
Bachelorette (2012)
Producer
The Other Guys (2010)
Producer
The Virginity Hit (2010)
Producer
Land of the Lost (2009)
Executive Producer
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009)
Producer
Step Brothers (2008)
Executive Producer
Manimal (1983)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

The Other Guys (2010)
Song
Step Brothers (2008)
Song
Bewitched (2005)
Song

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Screenplay (Uncredited)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Other
Daddy's Home (2015)
Other
The Smurfs 2 (2013)
Other
Bewitched (2005)
Screenplay (Uncredited)
Bewitched (2005)
Other

Writer (Special)

Saturday Night Live Primetime Extra II (2001)
Writer
Saturday Night Live: Mothers' Day Special (2001)
Writer

Special Thanks (Special)

Saturday Night Live Primetime Extra II (2001)
Writer
Saturday Night Live: Mothers' Day Special (2001)
Writer

Misc. Crew (Special)

Saturday Night Live Primetime Extra II (2001)
Other
Saturday Night Live: Mothers' Day Special (2001)
Other
The 1998 MTV Video Music Awards (1998)
Consultant

Life Events

2004

Wrote and directed "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy"

2006

Re-teamed with Will Ferrell for "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"

2008

Re-teamed with Ferrell and John C. Reilly for "Step Brothers"

2010

Wrote and directed "The Other Guys," starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg

2013

Helmed the sequel "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"

2015

Wrote and directed recession drama "The Big Short"

2018

Wrote and directed Dick Cheney biopic "Vice"

Videos

Movie Clip

Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004) -- (Movie Clip) I'm Kind Of A Big Deal Title character Will Ferrell, with reporter sidekick (Paul Rudd as “Brian Fantana”) feeling his oats at San Diego party in the “before-cable” era, is distracted by Christina Applegate, not knowing that she’s a new colleague, in director Adam McKay’s Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, 2004.
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004) -- (Movie Clip) Discovered By The Germans After a series of embarrassing come-ons in the newsroom, Will Ferrell (title character and co-screenwriter) has agreed to give new colleague Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) a strictly-professional tour of San Diego, early in Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, 2004.
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004) -- (Movie Clip) He Was Like A God The opening, from producer Judd Apatow and director Adam McKay, who co-wrote with star Will Ferrell, whose riffing in character carries through the opening credits, from the 2004 hit Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, also starring Christina Applegate and Steve Carell.
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004) -- (Movie Clip) No Touching Of The Hair Or Face The famous fight scene, from the screenplay by director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell, Ron Burgundy leads Brian, Champ and Brick (Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carrell) into a rumble with rivals led by Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller, in Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, 2004.

Trailer

Bibliography