Not only is Anchorman one of the most quotable films of all time, it also turned Will Ferrell into a movie star and became the template for every second comedy in the naughties. But things may never have turned out that way...
In an interview with The Ringer, Ferrell outlined the long journey he and co-writer Adam McKay took to getting the picture made. It started with a script called August Blowout that the pair wrote while still working for Saturday Night Live. The script (described by Ferrell as Glengarry Glenross in a car dealership) was knocked back by every studio it was shown to, before a lucky meeting with Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood) gave the two new hope. Anderson told them to write the film they wanted to see, then he'd help push it through the development process. That film was Anchorman, but the original script was a bit too out there for even Anderson's tastes. Here's how Ferrell described it:
“The first version of Anchorman is basically the movie Alive, where the year is 1976, and we are flying to Philadelphia, and all the newsmen from around the country are flying in to have some big convention,” he said. “Ron convinces the pilot that he knows how to fly the charter jet, and he immediately crash-lands it in the mountains. And it’s just the story of them surviving and trying to get off the mountainside. They clipped a cargo plane, and the cargo plane crashed as well, close to them, and it was carrying only boxes of orangutans and Chinese throwing stars. So throughout the movie we’re being stalked by orangutans who are killing, one by one, the team off with throwing stars. And Veronica Corningstone keeps saying things like, ‘Guys, I know if we just head down we’ll hit civilization.’ And we keep telling her, ‘Wrong.’ She doesn’t know what we’re talking about. So that was the first version of the movie.”
So maybe take this story with a grain of salt - we are talking about a comedian who comes up with movies about ninja orangatans, it's a fair chance this whole thing is an elaborate joke. But what a movie that would be!