LOS ANGELES — He’s the guy who gave us “Anchorman.” He blessed us with “Talladega Nights,” “Step Brothers,” “Eastbound & Down” and Funny or Die. Adam McKay even wrote what is quite possibly the funniest fake commercial of all time.
Needless to say, he always delivers the goods.
Now, McKay is doing so on a more literal level with “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.” It’s an improv-heavy comedy starring Emmy-winning “Entourage” star Jeremy Piven and a host of familiar faces, including McKay’s longtime comedy partner Will Ferrell. As the used-car comedy rolls into theaters, we caught up with its producer for a conversation about why the film’s no clunker but is still worthy of your cash.
MTV: Tell us about “The Goods.”
Adam McKay: Well, it’s the story of a failing auto dealership. They hire the best salesman in the country, a mercenary named Don Ready, to come in and liquidate their lot to save it. Ready is played by Jeremy Piven — he’s the guy who’s always on the road, and as he comes into town, his life’s falling apart, he’s on his last legs. Deep character discoveries are made, and absurd hilarity ensues.
MTV: I just watched what might be the funniest thing I’ve seen all year — it’s a clip involving Will Ferrell, an Abe Lincoln costume and various sexual instruments. Is this a Web-only thing on Funny or Die, or is it actually in the movie?
McKay: That is in the film, and Ferrell also has another little tag cameo for that scene, which I think might even be funnier. I was telling Will, “I think this might be the funniest cameo you’ve ever done.”
MTV: That’s high praise. He’s done some good ones over the years.
McKay: He’s done some really good ones — his “Wedding Crashers” cameo is great.
MTV: We know you and Will often work with the same stable of dependable improv actors — David Koechner, Rob Riggle, Kathryn Hahn — how did Jeremy Piven enter the fold?
McKay: A lot of people are big fans of Jeremy’s acting, but people don’t know he comes from an improvisational background. His parents ran a theater school in Chicago and were connected to Second City, and there’s a whole improvisational background there. Plus, the character couldn’t be any more perfect for him. In fact, I think he improvised the “Let’s hug it out, b—h” line on “Entourage.”
MTV: Really? That’s the most classic line on that show.
McKay: Yeah, and I believe it was an improvised line.
MTV: What’s the best line in “The Goods”?
McKay: Wow, that’s a good one. Ving Rhames has a couple of my favorites. … He says: “We haven’t been home in a year and a half, and I’m 90 percent certain I left my door open.”
MTV: What’s your worst car-buying story?
McKay: When I moved to L.A., I went and bought a Prius. I went to the dealership with a printout from the Internet, listing exactly how much I should be paying — and all the guy did was try and work me on it, try and get the price up. Total slick moves the whole time! Then, at the very end, he says: “Hey, I have a script I wrote for the Hughes brothers [who wrote and directed ‘Menace II Society’]. Can you give it to them?”
MTV: Do you have a connection to the Hughes brothers? Am I missing something?
McKay: No! None at all, none whatsoever. [Laughs.] Don’t know ‘em, never met them. He just thought all [famous people] knew each other or something.
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.”
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