Will Ferrell Kicks And Screams His Way To Hollywood A-List Status

Former 'SNL' cast member has several prominent projects in the works.

Move over, Tom and Brad: Will Ferrell just may be the busiest leading man in Hollywood.

The funnyman who became an A-list star with “Elf” and “Old School” currently has between five and 10 projects in the works with some of the industry’s top dogs.

His latest flick, “Kicking & Screaming,” explores the cutthroat world of little league soccer and has the comedian going head-to-head with some scene-stealing knee-biters and a legendary sports icon. In the film, out Friday, Ferrell’s character, Phil, has to deal with some serious daddy issues. When his father trades his son, Sam, to a losing soccer team for the sake of winning, Phil takes on the challenge of coaching the underdogs to victory, with the help of Super Bowl veteran Mike Ditka as his assistant coach. But once Phil experiences the sweet taste of victory — and one too many café lattes — the once-submissive coach takes a leap off the proverbial deep end.

“I think it’s so comedic when my character goes insane,” Ferrell said. “One of the potential problems [we could have had is that] I go so crazy, and it’s around the kids, but it’s funny that everyone sees what an idiot I am. No one took it too seriously. Plus, we always made sure the kids were the smarter ones in the equation, so it never felt too mean.”

Ferrell earned the praise of his co-star Robert Duvall, who was surprised that the over-the-top comic was actually quite subdued in real life. “I’d met Will before, but when I met him on this, he was very serious off-camera,” said the veteran actor. “He’s always ready to spring into action, but when he does, it’s very subtle. [Will] is not a comedian who has to hit you over the head or always has to be on. He has a lot of taste.”

Ferrell’s commercial appeal has not gone unnoticed by Hollywood heavyweights. The actor is at no loss for work, starring in several movies in the coming year. He is currently shooting “Stranger Than Fiction,” a Charlie Kaufman-esque film in which an IRS agent (Ferrell) starts to hear his life being narrated by an outside voice who outlines his imminent death. Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Queen Latifah will co-star. Once shooting on “Fiction” wraps, Ferrell will jump straight into “Talladega Nights,” a film he wrote and will produce, about the topsy-turvy world of NASCAR racing.

Next up, Ferrell can be seen alongside Nicole Kidman in the anticipated summer blockbuster “Bewitched.” In the film, out June 24, the actor plays Jack Wyatt, a slumping movie star who decides to remake the popular ’60s sitcom to jump-start his career, only to discover that his leading lady is actually a real witch. He will also star alongside Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in the feature-film adaptation of the Broadway smash musical “The Producers,” dropping Christmas Day. And last but certainly not least, Ferrell will be heard in the animated feature film “Curious George” as the voice of the Man in the Yellow Hat. The film, based on Margaret Rey’s classic children’s books, hits theaters February 10.

On Saturday, Ferrell will return to Studio 8H as he hosts “Saturday Night Live” for the first time since he left the sketch show in 2002. (No word yet on whether Craig the Spartan cheerleader will make an appearance.)

Ferrell’s 2004 film “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” received four nominations for this year’s MTV Movie Awards, including Best Comedic Performance for Ferrell (see “Vicious Teens And Happy Drunk Lead 2005 MTV Movie Award Nominees” ).

The actor is currently in talks to star in the movie version of the classic 1970s kids’ show “Land of the Lost” (see “Will Ferrell To Star In Movie Version Of ‘Land Of The Lost’ “ ). Although details are not yet confirmed, Adam McKay, who directed “Anchorman” and is helming “Talladega Nights,” is said to be directing the Universal feature film. Ferrell, who would play forest ranger Rick Marshall in the remake, said he would welcome the opportunity to re-create one of the most bizarre shows in the history of Saturday morning TV.

“Yeah, it could be fun. Just imagine me being chased by Sleestaks,” he laughed.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Kicking & Screaming.”

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