You Have To Call Me Dragon: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Step Brothers Adam McKay”s hilarious Step Brothers is destined to become a cult classic. We share the making-of story of this Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly comedy.
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Adam McKay’s Step Brothers is one of the most delightfully absurdist and outright hilarious comedies in recent memory. McKay had just collaborated with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly on Talladega Nights, and found their on-screen chemistry to be so palpable and fun that he wanted to come up with another vehicle for them.
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From this springboard, he came up with the story of two immature men in their forties who never left home and have to learn to live together when their parents get married. Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen proved to be the perfect comic foils for the duo. Here are 10 fascinating details behind the making of Step Brothers.
Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly got together during the post-production process of their previous collaboration, Talladega Nights, to brainstorm ideas for their next project.
The next day, when McKay was in the cutting room, he overheard someone saying the term “bunk beds,” and suddenly got the idea for Ferrell and Reilly to play a pair of adult stepbrothers who never moved out of their parents’ houses.
When the casting process was underway for Step Brothers, Jon Hamm and Thomas Lennon both auditioned to play Derek, Brennan’s douchey biological brother. They were both on the shortlist with Adam Scott, who ultimately clinched the role.
Before the role of Nancy was given to Mary Steenburgen, the producers offered the part to Lesley Ann Warren, who had to turn it down because the shooting schedule of Step Brothers conflicted with that of her TV series, In Plain Sight.
John C. Reilly learned to play the drums for his performance in the movie Georgia, which involved music being recorded live for certain scenes, so he did all his own drumming in Step Brothers. Will Ferrell did all his own singing, too.
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The prosthetic testicles that Ferrell rubbed all over Dale’s drums cost around $10,000 to produce to such a realistic standard. As a joke, they were given to Ferrell as a wrapped gift.
7 Uptown Girl’s Backing Band Is Played By Elvis Costello’s Band
The drum set used by Uptown Girl, the ‘80s-era Billy Joel cover band that plays the Catalina Wine Mixer, is the same drum set owned by Dale. The lead singer of the band, who throws a hissy fit and gets kicked off-stage, is played by SNL’s Horatio Sanz.
The drummer and bass player who can be seen supporting him are played by real musicians — Davey Faragher and Pete Thomas — who are members of Elvis Costello’s Imposters.
Adam McKay’s directing style involves improv and throwing out lines at the actors, so his scenes end up being a lot longer than they were in the script. As a result of this process, the first cut of Step Brothers ended up clocking in at five hours long.
It’s not uncommon for the initial cut of a movie to come in a little on the long side, but gee whiz! McKay and his editor Brent White managed to trim it down to a cool 98 minutes for the theatrical release.
5 John C. Reilly Met Richard Jenkins When He Was A Kid
Towards the end of shooting Step Brothers, Richard Jenkins heard that John C. Reilly’s dad worked in the linen industry in the Chicago area.
Jenkins had also worked in the linen business in Chicago, and he later realized he’d actually worked for Reilly’s father. He had even met a four-year-old Reilly in 1969. They’d been playing father and son for weeks without realizing they’d already met.
In 2011, Adam McKay announced on Twitter that Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly had begun work on a rap album as their Step Brothers characters, Brennan and Dale. It likely would’ve been released by their label, Prestige Worldwide, and could’ve included a “Boats ‘n’ Hoes” track.
Unfortunately, McKay later confirmed that the album didn’t come together, and they’d all decided not to go through with it.
3 You Can See The Actual Catalina Island In The Background Of The Catalina Wine Mixer Scene
The Catalina Wine Mixer sequence wasn’t actually filmed on Catalina Island. According to director Adam McKay’s commentary, the crew did a location scout of Catalina Island and he didn’t like the way it looked, so they shot on the coast instead.
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In some shots, you can see Catalina Island in the background at the Catalina Wine Mixer, and McKay thought it would be funnier if it wasn’t digitally removed. The popularity of this movie inspired an actual annual Catalina Wine Mixer event to be held, starting in 2015.
Mary Steenburgen played Will Ferrell’s mom in Step Brothers, having previously played his stepmom in the Christmas classic Elf. Despite this, Steenburgen is actually only 14 years older than Ferrell, so she’s much too young to be his mother.
By contrast, Richard Jenkins is 18 years older than John C. Reilly, which is a little better, but Robert is a doctor, so it’s unlikely that he had his son at the age of 18. Either way, the chemistry between the four actors is incredible, so their age doesn’t really matter.
1 There Have Been Discussions About A Sequel
Over the years, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly have been constantly asked about the possibility of a sequel to Step Brothers. The trio have always maintained a never-say-never stance on a potential sequel, and have confirmed that they have discussed doing a follow-up.
They have a basic idea for the plot — Dale and Brennan are married with kids, slightly matured, and get pushed back to square one (there’s also been talk of them moving into a retirement home) — but the most recent word is, unfortunately, that a sequel isn’t in the cards.
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Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, and independent filmmaker. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant, covering Mando, Melville, Mad Max, and more. He”s currently in pre-production on his first feature, and has been for a while because filmmaking is expensive. In the meantime, he”s sitting on a mountain of unproduced screenplays. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop. You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time.