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The truth about Will Ferrell's Wedding Crashers role

There's a huge backstory behind Will Ferrell's small Wedding Crashers role.

According to an interview with director David Dobkin in Entertainment Weekly, Ferrell's cameo almost didn't happen at all, and was a huge last-minute surprise that kept the entire cast and crew on their toes right up until the film's release.

Towards the end of the film – after John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) crash a wedding, end up vacationing with the bride's family, and fall in love with sisters Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher), respectively — the duo's cover is blown. John subsequently seeks advice from an unexpected source: Chazz Reinhold. Chazz — whose name is frequently invoked during the first half of the movie as the ultimate wedding crasher, but who remains unseen throughout — is eventually revealed to be played by Ferrell. And he's less suave than he seems ... a lot less. Chazz is a total loser who lives with his mother and has resorted to crashing funerals to pick up women. When John finally meets Chazz, it serves as a wake-up call that he doesn't really want to crash weddings anymore — he simply wants to be with Claire.

As Dobkin revealed to Entertainment Weekly, Ferrell's cameo was a huge challenge to pull off. Here's the truth about Will Ferrell's role in Wedding Crashers.

How Will Ferrell got involved with Wedding Crashers

Dobkin explained that originally, there wasn't even a scene in which Chazz appears on screen. That happened during pre-filming script workshops, when he pitched an idea to Wedding Crashers co-lead Owen Wilson about his character reaching rock bottom and paying Chazz a visit for some guidance. 

"Vince and Owen and I did about three weeks of work on the script before we started shooting, where we'd go through and improv the scenes and create ad-lib stuff and kind of rewrite those scenes [...] When I was looking for an all is lost moment I said, 'Owen, what if you go see Chazz? You mention this guy Chazz and we never see him in the movie. What if you wanted to go see this guy to get some advice and he was crashing funerals?'" said Dobkin. "'And you think all of this sounds really dark and you're really at your bottom, but when you go with him and you're at the funeral, it feels all wrong and you realize you should be by your friend's side.'"

So, that's how the scene came into existence. What about Ferrell's participation playing Chazz? Well, that was a bit difficult to lock in. The Wedding Crashers team was, per Entertainment Weekly, "desperately hoping to land another high-profile member of Vaughn and Wilson's comedy crew in Ferrell." Dobkin shared that at midnight the night before they started filming Wedding Crashers, they were "still trying to nail Will down" — but once they got him on set, the character came into focus.

"He was very laidback in the first take and I remember looking at him and I just said, 'I think he's a little crazier,'" said Dobkin with a laugh. "Which is bad direction by the way. He was like, 'Oh, I know what you mean,' and he did it again, and I was like, 'Maybe more?' I mean, I really believe that I directed him by just saying 'more' until he had that fifth take and that is the whole take that is in the movie. It was one of those things that you shoot and you're like, 'Is this really going to work?' It's a pretty weird sequence."

Will Ferrell's appearance in Wedding Crashers made waves

Incredibly, Dobkin recalled that audiences went crazy during test screenings of Wedding Crashers without even knowing for sure that Ferrell was playing Chazz. Viewers started going wild before they even saw the actor's face, as if they knew a big reveal was coming and exactly what it would entail. 

"The craziest thing happened, which is that when Will comes walking down those steps as Chazz, you cannot see him, and there [was] an audible reaction of people starting to laugh and have this reaction to the character before you even see that it's Will," said Dobkin. "I can never explain it, and I remember showing it to Owen later and being like, 'How do they know? What is it that they think is about to happen here?'"

In the end, the scene was perfect, but one challenge remained: keeping Ferrell's cameo a total secret. When pressed, critics remained completely silent about Ferrell's super-secret appearance, which led to an awesome surprise for viewers. To further keep Ferrell's involvement under wraps until Wedding Crashers hit the silver screen on July 15, 2005, Dobkin insisted that no promotional material include him at all — even though he would be yet another big draw to the film. 

"Every first trailer that they cut had him in it, and I was like, 'Guys, you can't do that, you're ruining the joy of a reveal.' Yeah, you need to sell the movie but you've also got to leave an experience for people and something for them to discover," Dobkin said. "We asked all of the reviewers, 'Please don't ever say that he's in the movie,' and there was so much love for the film that no one leaked it. It was such a lovely thing."

Nearly 15 years later, Ferrell and Dobkin's film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga would get leaked ahead of its late June 2020 release on Netflix, according to EW, so this time, it's heartening to know that everything worked out for the duo. Wedding Crashers is available to rent on all streaming platforms.

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