Will Ferrell has been fascinated by the Eurovision Song Contest for years. The annual kitsch carnival is more or less unknown in America, but Will, who is married to Swedish actress Viveca Paulin, spends several weeks a year in his wife’s homeland.
“I was introduced to Eurovision by my wife’s family,” says the American actor and comedian, best known for Anchorman.
“It was eight years ago, we were visiting in May and my wife’s cousin said,” Shall we watch the Eurovision Song Contest? “I said,” Ohh-kay, what’s that? ” And we went on watching the craziest thing I’ve ever seen for the next three hours!
“It was the year they had the singing grandmothers from Russia and I was absolutely fascinated by the huge variety of acts.
Will Ferrell’s new Netflix movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga, focuses on two struggling Eurovision hopefuls from Iceland played by himself and Rachel McAdams
“Some of the songs were straight pop and others were just these incredible performances. I remember thinking, “Gosh, this is so cinematic it would make a fun movie” thinking someone else would. ‘
When it became clear that no one would do that, Will made his own movie.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga, just released on Netflix, is the parody story of two struggling hopefuls, Lars Erickssong (played by Will) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams).
The childhood friends make their way from a remote fishing village in Iceland to the legendary match as duo Fire Saga. Obviously, coming from Will, it is told with his tongue firmly in his cheek.
“The organizers of the competition were very happy that we did it,” said Will, who also produced and co-wrote the film.
‘We went to Copenhagen as guests in 2014 and asked,’ What do you think of a movie being made? Obviously it’s going to be a comedy and we want to have some fun, but at the same time it’s going to be a love letter to the competition itself. ”
“I have to commend Eurovision for praise because they get every aspect of what they do – they embrace kitsch with genuine artistry.
“They said,” Of course you should enjoy it. As long as you stick to the rules of what we do, go ahead. ‘
Will explained that during his visit to Copenhagen in 2014, he spoke to the Eurovision organizers about making a movie. Photo: Presenter Graham Norton as himself in the movie
“After that, they were remarkably hands-off, and when they watched the movie, they said,” Well done. “They were great partners. ‘
The film follows the tragically terrible Fire Saga, who longs to take their chance at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Contrary to expectations, but along the way they have to fight against Lars’ disapproving father Erick (Pierce Brosnan) and a George Michael-esque rival from Russia, Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens, who has a whale), and possibly even fall in love.
There have been cameos from real Eurovision stars, including Austrian Conchita Wurst, Israeli Netta and Graham Norton, and the songs Fire Saga calls, such as Volcano Man and their Eurovision entry Double Trouble, wouldn’t look out of place on the real thing.
When Will and Rachel published a video on YouTube of Fire Saga singing Volcano Man, complete with folk music and exaggerated imagery, including horned helmets and gloomy seascapes, people went online saying they loved the song.
‘It’s fantastic!’ Will laughs.
“It was always part of the marketing plan to release this video and play it straight, like we’re just a new band from Iceland, and have people connect the dots and say, ‘Oh that’s Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell, what does this lead to? “But it was a lot of fun getting people to post,” I know this song should be funny, but I actually like it, I play it over and over. “
Will said the film is a celebration of the competition, showcasing the community backstage and great camaraderie. In the photo: Dan Stevens in the movie
He adds that the song even impressed his father, keyboardist and saxophonist Roy Lee Ferrell Jr. by The Righteous Brothers.
“He said to me very sweetly,” You know, you could make a real album, I tell you, you could. ‘
“But there are no plans for that. Singing in the comedy strip gives you a lot of leeway because there’s a big margin for error, because if you can’t quite hit a note it’s funny, and if you can, it turns into, “Wait, you’re really good.” So I can’t imagine releasing an album that would be a joke at some level. “
Will makes every effort to point out that the film not only mocks the absurdities of the match, but also celebrates its exuberance.
“It’s really a celebration because every country wants to win. But at the same time, we noticed how excited all musicians are to be part of the process.
There really is a community backstage and great camaraderie where everyone says to each other, ‘I love your music, where are you from? Greece? Excellent!”
“A journalist said to me very seriously,” You know what we see here, with all these people from all over the world, all working together so harmoniously – that’s how the EU really should work! ”
When Rachel McAdams was offered the role of gentle, sweet-singing Sigrit, she didn’t think long.
Not only had she teamed up with director David Dobkin on her big hit Wedding Crashers, but Will also had a cameo role in that movie as Chazz, the sleazebag mentor of Vince Vaughn’s character, who stole the show through life his mother’s nesting room talks loudly as she screams to bring him meatloaf.
Rachel McAdams, who plays Sigrit Ericksdottir, was introduced to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014. Pictured: Pierce Brosnan as Lars Erick’s dashing father
“I wasn’t on set that day,” says Rachel. But the next day I heard how funny it was and was told to wait to see the movie.
Everyone said, “Meatloaf! Meatloaf! and since I hadn’t seen it, I thought, “What’s with the meatloaf?” So I didn’t meet Will back then, but I’d always hoped to work with him someday. ‘
Rachel was Canadian by birth and had never heard of Eurovision until 2014, when drag queen Conchita Wurst won for Austria with Rise Like A Phoenix.
“That was a special moment,” she laughs. So when the film’s production team went to Tel Aviv to film the reactions of the audience during the 2019 match, they took the opportunity to come along too.
“There were so many great acts! The Australian act that played on stilts was fantastic. I loved the Polish girl group Tulia, who didn’t make it to the final – they had this amazing song, Fire Of Love, which I voted for.
“There was a wide variety of music that I had never been exposed to. I loved it. ‘
Will decided to bring Fire Saga out of Iceland because he wanted to pick a country that has never had Eurovision success.
Although it is insanely ironic that this year’s Icelandic act, Dadi Freyr, was one of the favorites.
‘I was very sad because this year’s competition was canceled, I was really looking forward to getting this movie on the heels – we would have a premiere there so it would be nice to share the movie with the Eurovision audience . But hopefully the movie will be a nice replacement for people. ‘
Meanwhile, in more lifelike art, Dadi Freyr’s lead singer has released his own synthpop version of Volcano Man. “It’s cool,” Will nods.
“And it’s funny to see that he and I have similar hairstyles too! Hopefully he and his group will get a chance – fingers crossed next year. ‘
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga is now on Netflix.