When it comes to modern slapstick and ad-lib comedy, actor and "Saturday Night Live" graduate Will Ferrell needs lessons from no one. But when the subject of ice skating came up in connection with his new movie, Ferrell had to admit to producers he had never donned blades before.
"And now I'm a complete professional," Ferrell said Monday, as he and TODAY host Meredith Vieira glided along the ice at Rockefeller Center in New York.
Ferrell portrays fictional figure skating champion Chazz Michael Michaels in "Blades of Glory," a new comedy about a pair of archrival skaters who are forced, by circumstance, to form the world's first men's pair.
Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy, played by actor Jon Heder, exploit a loophole in the rules and team up after being banned from the sport for life because of their fist fight on the medal stand during the 2002 Olympics.
"Chazz Michael Michaels is a bad boy," Ferrell said of his character, a Spandex-wearing sex addict. "He is actually the tough guy skating, a ladies' man. He is as one commentator said, 'Sex on skates' — not unlike myself."
The role presented a new challenge for Ferrell, who in past movies has portrayed a NASCAR race car driver, local television news anchorman, middle-aged fraternity brother and an over-zealous children's soccer coach. Ferrell had never been ice skates before.
He and Heder, who starred in "Napoleon Dynamite," underwent training before production began, enabling Ferrell to perform some of his own falls and on-ice scenes. Stunt doubles did the heavy lifting, however, enabling Ferrell to concentrate on what he does best: being hilarious.
"It was pretty intense. We did a good two to three months of skating, three days a week," Ferrell told Vieira, who donned skates herself for the segment. "Enough where we could at least stand on skates and not local totally pathetic."
At the end of their interview, Ferrell attempted to show Vieira a stunt on the ice: pulling through her through his legs. She almost made it. But she fell on her back, exclaiming: "That hurt."
— John Springer, TODAYShow.com contributor