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The “Casa de mi Padre” cast weighs in on Will Ferrell’s spanish-language skills

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We’ve seen Will Ferrell play everything from a human raised by elves to an ex-president, but this weekend’s premiere of “Casa de mi Padre” could feature the popular comedian in one of his most challenging roles to date: a Mexican rancher who doesn’t speak a word of English.

In the film, Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, a man who must save his father’s ranch from a dangerous drug lord played by Gael Garcia Bernal. Offering both a clever homage and hilarious parody of classic telenovela dramas, “Casa de mi Padre” is filmed almost entirely in Spanish (with English subtitles), and nearly every member of the cast speaks the language fluently.

All except for Ferrell, that is.

“I had enough going in where I could read [Spanish] fairly well,” said Ferrell of his Spanish-language skills at the point when the cameras began rolling. “It wasn’t that I was learning it phonetically or anything like that, and I didn’t have to use a Marlon Brando-style earpiece or anything. [Laughs] I just got together with the translator and we’d go over lines nearly every day. We’d actually drive to the set together, drive home, and then start working on the next day’s lines.”

“It was complete immersion,” he said of his crash course in the language. “I started dreaming in Spanish.”

And apparently his hard work paid off, as his Spanish-speaking costars were quick to heap praise on Ferrell’s command of the language.

“He’s good… really good,” Bernal told IFC.

And if anyone should know, it’s Bernal — a native Spanish-speaker who has appeared in six Oscar-nominated films, including multiple nominations for Best Foreign-Language Film at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. One of the most successful Mexican actors in Hollywood right now, Bernal lavished praise on Ferrell and his take on the dim-witted but honorable Armando Alvarez.

“When he found himself in trouble with a certain word, he would ask us questions, but he speaks really well, with a good, clear accent,” said Bernal. “And [the times when he didn’t], that was part of the character. The character is a little slow, so…”

Actress Genesis Rodriguez, who plays Ferrell’s love interest in the film and also grew up speaking Spanish, took her praise for Ferrell a step further.

“I really think that Mexican actors should pay attention, because there’s a new guy in town,” she joked. “And he’s ready.”

Rodriguez noted that she had to change up her own Spanish in order to take on the proper accents for a Mexican character — something that made her even more impressed with Ferrell’s grasp of the language.

“[It was actually] confusing for me, because he really dominated the cadence of the Mexican accent,” she explained. “I’m Cuban-Venezuelan, so I had to change my speech in that sort of way, because I played a Mexican part. So for someone who does not dominate the language and does not really understand what he’s saying, to pinpoint that sing-song way of saying things is extremely impressive.”

Still, not everything came easy for Ferrell, who said he occasionally found himself at a loss for words when his costars improvised lines here and there or ad-libbed in the moment. Normally a master of improv who always gets an extra laugh out of a scene, Ferrell said his shaky grasp of the language outside of what he memorized led to a few long, thoughtful pauses while he tried to understand what was said. In fact, a few of those scenes made it into the final cut of the film, when Armando is seen contemplating something said by one of the other characters.

“When everyone was speaking so fast, and they’re fluent, you don’t realize what’s being said,” he confessed. “It was all I could do to make sure I got that day’s work down and sounded authentic. We didn’t want [any lines] to be dubbed in later or have to do the take again.”

“I never doubted Will Ferrell,” laughed Rodriguez. “I’ve been a fan for many, many, many years, and I thought that if there was one person to do it and take this type of risk, it would be him. And he did it just brilliantly.”

“Casa de mi Padre” is currently in theaters. Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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