There’s Something About Peter — Interview with Peter Farrelly

Peter Farrely wearing a headset around his neck, smiling behind equipment

Known for his cinematic hits such as “Dumb and Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary,” and the Oscar-winning “Green Book,” Farrelly has consistently transcended the status quo by authentically representing people with disabilities in his films. His commitment to inclusivity not only reflects the realities of life but also enriches his work by offering audiences a more diverse and genuine experience.

ABILITY Magazine‘s Chet Cooper caught up with Farrelly while he was crawling through LA’s traffic. He shares details of his life choices and journey toward being a writer, director and producer, as well as his current work and motivation for inclusion.

Chet Cooper: I was googling to see your recent work when I came across an article about the Media Access Awards that mentioned you and how impressed the writer was with who you are and how you listened to the stories of all the people who attended. Turns out, it was our article that we ran several years ago by Hope Allen in 2003!

Peter Farrelly: Oh, yeah!

Cooper: Anyway, I want to start with “Champions,” if we could talk a little bit about that movie. I saw it originally when it came out, the French version.

Farrelly: I think it was a Spanish version.

Cooper: Spanish? You know what? It might have been Spanish. Yes, I get those two countries confused.

Farrelly: (laughs) Actually, I didn’t do “Champions,” my brother Bobby did.

Cooper: Oh, OK.

Farrelly: Yeah, Bobby made “Champions.” It was a movie that Woody Harrelson had wanted to make, and Woody’s an old friend of ours. We’ve known him ever since I got to LA. We’d met him before he was known, before he was the famous Woody Harrelson. But in any case, he wanted to make it. I was busy making a movie, so Bobby did it. I love that movie. I thought Bobby did an excellent job and Woody, too. A really great movie.

Cooper: Speaking about Hope Allen and talking with you, when we were over at your place in Santa Monica, Conundrum, Woody was there playing foosball.

Farrelly: Yeah. Woody, there’s an old saying, I think Goethe said it, something to the effect of, “Once you follow your heart, divine providence will help you in ways you couldn’t possibly have foreseen.” When I came out here to become a writer–which was a hard thing to do, but it’s something you can easily fail at–the doors that opened for me were weird. First of all, meeting Woody before Woody was on “Cheers” and then getting my first agent, Richard Lovett, who if you Google today “best agent in Hollywood,” his name comes up, meeting my wife—there are a million things like that. So, Woody and I and Bobby have been friends for 30, going toward 40 years.

check this out

Cooper: Oh, yes, definitely leaning toward 40.

Farrelly: Yeah. I was at the first episode he ever did of “Cheers.” I was scared to death for him. He hadn’t really done much. He had played a small role in a movie called “Wildcats,” where Goldie Hawn coached a football team.

Cooper: Oh, yeah.

Farrelly: He was one of the players. And he had also been an understudy on Broadway. I was nervous for him. But I went there, and he crushed it. And, of course, he never looked back.

Cooper: You and your brother came out to Los Angeles together, I would think?

Farrelly: No, I came out a little ahead of my brother. At the time, he had majored in geological engineering, and he was kind of doing some kind of sales thing at that time, bopping around. But then, every time I wrote a script–I was out here with my friend. And whenever we wrote a script, we’d give it to Bobby. And he would edit it and punch it up, say, “This stinks. This is good.” He had good instincts. Eventually we pulled him in. We said, “Come on, join the party.”

Cooper: (laughs) And what was your background education-wise?

Farrelly: Accounting.

Cooper: (laughs) I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh.

Farrelly: (laughs) That’s okay. 2.0. Four years accounting at Providence College. I didn’t really start writing until I was about 24, and before that—that’s just one of those things. These kids who have to make up their mind what they’ll be when they’re 17, 18, I had no clue. When I started college, I remember my advisor said, “What’s your major?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “Well, you have pretty good math boards, how about accounting?” I said, “okay,” And that was it. That was all the thought that went into it.

Cooper: That sounds just like me. I asked the counselor when I was getting out of high school, “What’s the toughest thing you have.” They said, “Probably medicine.” I said, “What does that mean?” They said, “Biology, probably.” I said, “okay.” So, I got my degree in biology just because I had no idea what I was doing.

Farrelly: At least you were ambitious, to go for the toughest thing.

Cooper: So, you’re up in Ojai?

Farrelly: I do live in Ojai, but I’m going toward LA right now. I’m going back East tomorrow. I’m from the East Coast, so I’m going back for a couple of weeks.

Cooper: You’re from Massachusetts, right?

Farrelly: Rhode Island.

Cooper: I’m sorry, is that a negative thing to say?

Farrelly: No. I have a lot of asshole friends. Rhode Island and Massachusetts are not that different. We always went to Cape Cod in summer, which is Massachusetts. I definitely feel connected to both.

Cooper: Are you going back for vacation or work?

Farrelly: Vacation. 4th of July and also my mother’s—We’re having a 90th birthday party for my mother. She’s 90 goin’ on, like, 50. 90 is the new 50; for her it is. She still plays golf two or three days a week. She plays bridge two or three days a week. She teaches bridge. Every night I call her and if it’s after 5:00, she’s either at or on her way to a cocktail party.

Cooper: (laughs)

Farrelly: When we do her 90th birthday, we’re like, “Mom, do you want to invite some friends? Give us a list.” 120 people.

Cooper: (laughs)

Cooper: Is your father still alive?

Farrelly: No, he passed away about 10 years ago. He was unfortunately a smoker. That’s what got him. He smoked three to four packs a day, as a doctor, by the way.

Cooper: Isn’t it something? Back in the day when the doctors would say—a tobacco company would use a doctor to say, “They’re the best, Camel is the best doctor-preferred.”

Farrelly: My father smoked all day. Every year for the holidays, at Christmas, I’d make him an ashtray when I was a kid. That was what we gave him every year. He had ashtrays at work, on the kitchen table, next to his chair. He was always smoking. He never stopped, even while he was eating dinner, he’d have a cigarette going.

check this out

Cooper: Wow! Such a strong addiction.

Farrelly: Yeah. I have friends who were heroin addicts and were addicted to cigarettes, and they said quitting cigarettes was way harder.

Cooper: It’s so difficult when you have an addictive personality.

Farrelly: I have a friend who was a bad alcoholic, and one day he woke up in his 40s and he’d had enough of that experience, something had happened, and he quit cold turkey, cigarettes and booze, the same day, never went back. Now he’s 78 years old. Never went to a meeting, just said, “That’s it.” Done. Boom.

Cooper: Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had that capability?

Farrelly: Yeah, that’s rare.

Cooper: I just pictured him looking outside the window, it was wintertime and there was a turkey looking in at him going, “Why?”

Farrelly: (laughs) And by the way, just for anybody, he became smashingly successful after he quit all that stuff. It does help your brain and your focus.

Cooper: Did you ever get in trouble with too much or abuse?

Farrelly: Not really. I never smoked cigarettes. I didn’t do it because I had younger brothers and sisters and I thought if I smoke, they would see me and they would smoke. It didn’t matter, they all smoked anyway. They got off it eventually. No, I never—it’s in my family, though, there’s a lot of alcoholism and all sorts of things. I don’t think I have an addictive personality. Like, for instance, I pretty much don’t think of weed, marijuana at all. If I’m at a party somewhere and someone passes me a joint, I’ll always take a hit off it, but I don’t think of it in between.

Cooper: But you were around Woody for years.

Farrelly: I know. When I’m around Woody, I smoke a lot of weed. But he’s not a big drinker. He’s got a balance. Woody smokes weed all day long, but he’s never really—he’s got a balance in his lifestyle. He does yoga, he works out. He’s always working on his brain in one way or another. He’s not just a degenerate weed smoker. He’s the healthy kind.

Cooper: You can’t be at that level. There’s a number of people who are doing very well, in whatever industry they’re in, who smoke regularly.

Farrelly: It’s one of those things. Weed’s a slippery slope, too. When I write a script, after I’m done with it, I could never write a script stoned. But after I’m done with it, I will smoke a joint and read it, and I kind of see things. I think that weed basically just affects your memory. That’s why everything seems cool or different. You see the sunset high, and you’re like, “Oh, my God! It’s incredible.” You don’t remember the thousands of sunsets you’ve seen before. Whatever it is, it’s all better. But when you see a script that you’ve written, when I smoke a joint and read it, I kind of forget things, and I can see it better. But like I said, I could only do it after I’ve written it.

I know some writers who smoke joints all the time and try to write, and I think it dulls your skills a little.

Cooper: I saw recently how you just wrote something and sold it? Rick—what’s the name?

Peter and John on set focusing on a scene
Peter Farrelly with John Brawley

Farrelly: “Ricky Stanicky” is a project I’ve been working on for many years. It’s a big comedy. It was just floating around. People don’t realize—I mean, I’m sure they do realize, that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, it’s very hard to get any movie made. Even if you’re coming off a big hit, the next one isn’t guaranteed. There are a million questions. What’s the budget? Who are the people? What’s the thing? It’s just never easy.

No matter who you are—I’m sure there are movies that Tom Hanks couldn’t get made at some point. There are so many things that go into a movie, and this is one of those that we just couldn’t get made for a long time. And finally, we did. And we’ve got John Cena and Zac Efron and William H. Macy and Andrew Santino and Jermaine Fowler—just a bunch of good people. It’s a big, broad, balls-to-the-wall comedy.

Cooper: The way I read this article, it said that you sold all the rights. I don’t know what that means.

Farrelly: This movie was the brainchild of a couple guys, John Jacobs and Zack Unterman. They came up with the idea, I want to say, 15 years ago. They brought in different writers here and there. We developed it for many years. I always wanted to make it because it’s really funny after all those years. You make a deal. I get paid to write and direct it. You’d have to call my agent to find out how it all went down.

Cooper: Oh, so you’re directing it.

Farrelly: Yeah, I directed it. I directed it and wrote it with a couple of other guys, Jim Freeman and Brian Jarvis and Jeff Bushell. We spent years working on it. In the meantime, of course, you’re doing other projects. I always have four or five irons in the fire at the same time because, like I said, it’s impossible to get a movie made. So, you’d better have a bunch going on. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you could end up with a very unhappy Easter.

Cooper: (laughs) I know from your past work you bring in some casting with actors with authentic disabilities. Were you able to do that with Ricky?

Farrelly: Oh, yeah. I always do that, and for a few reasons. Number one, because that’s the real world. And if you don’t have actors with disabilities in there, you’re making a fake world. I always see it. I’ll see a movie where there’s a thousand people, and I don’t see one person with a disability. It annoys me, but I also feel like it’s bullshit. That’s one reason why I do it. Another reason is because they’ve been overlooked. It’s a part of society that’s been completely overlooked, disabled actors. They’ve been out there forever. They never get seen, and it’s not right. I think they should get a step up. I want to bring them in. I bring them in for lots of roles, because despite what the Supreme Court just did to affirmative action, I’m for giving people who have been historically held back a leg up. I want to—they deserve a little extra attention because they’ve been overlooked since the film began.

check this out

Cooper: Have you ever gone to

Farrelly: I don’t think I have.

Cooper: Just to give you a brief update, our nonprofit, which is ABILITY Corps, created during COVID—actually just before COVID, the first robust platform that included a database and much more of thousands of actors who authentically have a disability it’s not only there for the taking for any part, but if you specifically need a left-handed amputee because it’s a story line that needs that, then you’d go in and put those parameters in and find the talent.

Farrelly: Wow! I tell the story of how about five or six years ago I was up in Vancouver and I wanted to cast a little person in a movie. And I asked a casting agent–who’s really probably the biggest casting agent in Vancouver–I said, “I’d like to see some little people.” And she said, “Oh, we don’t have any little people actors.” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “We don’t.” I said, “In Canada?”

Cooper: (laughs)

Farrelly: “Yeah.” “Yeah, you do! You just don’t know about them. Are you kidding?” She said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” And we put out a thing and I had every little person actor in Canada reaching out to us, but nobody knew about them.

Cooper: Exactly.

Farrelly: It was horrifying. She was embarrassed, and she changed immediately. I remember she came to me a couple times and said, “I’m really embarrassed about that thing. That’s just such an oversight.” But it shouldn’t just be little people, it should be people—there are so many people you’re overlooking if you’re just looking for what people have been casting through history.

Cooper: Yeah. It’s very difficult to sometimes get it through the head of some of these people that there is talent out there. Just because they haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Like you said, historically, it’s been so bad. When we talk to Screen Actors Guild, all of the major organizations connected to the entertainment industry and even KMR, you know Gail [Williamson].

check this out

Farrelly: Oh, yeah.

Cooper: They love what we’re doing because it actually will enhance their portfolio because most of the people who are signing up with us don’t have agents, they’re not members of SAG yet, so they’ll just get more business because they’ll need to find an agent at one point once they get a gig.

Farrelly: By the way, also the agent–And this is something I’ve said a million times, but I’ll say it again– is that for the casting agents, a big part of the problem is that they’re not (seeing it that) way. That 20 years ago if you saw “girlfriend, 24, pretty, walks into the room,” they see a white woman. And now they don’t. Now things have changed. We have some diversity in that way. But they’re not thinking about disability. Nowhere does it say, “great hearing,” “perfect eyesight,” describing that woman. Just because it just says “woman, 24,” doesn’t mean that there’s not a disability, just like it doesn’t mean that the woman’s not black.

Cooper: Exactly. I don’t know if you caught what I was saying. The idea for our database would be not just because you need to find a specific character who has that specific disability because that’s the way that particular story line’s going, but that you could tap into that database for any project, whether you’re calling it out as a disability or not. Just exactly what you said. There might be talent in there that happens to be an amputee or happens to be blind and you know what? That’s a young, attractive woman coming into a room. That’s our hope, that it gets picked up beyond just the disability factor.

Farrelly: The disability shouldn’t just be—let me rephrase this. You shouldn’t just think of disability when you have a role for somebody who’s disabled. They could play any role.

Cooper: That’s what I see you do in your movies.

Farrelly: I try to. Sometimes we fail, and we did fail, like, on our first movie, “Dumb and Dumber.” We never had anybody with a disability in it. And I got a lot of shit from my friend Danny Murphy, who was a quadriplegic friend of mine. At the premier I came out and I was embarrassed. He said, “You didn’t have one person in that entire movie with a disability, except for the kid, who’s disabled, the kid in the wheelchair.” And I was really embarrassed. I said, “I’m never doing that again.” And we didn’t. All I was thinking was that I was trying to get a movie made for nine years, and I didn’t think straight. But in any case, I would never make that mistake again. And, by the way, as I said, because it’s a better movie if there are people with disabilities because that’s the world. And I want people to be in a real world, not a fake world.

Cooper: Yeah, I remember the first—it might have been Eddie Murphy’s first role where he was in that pissed-off moving-that-furniture scene.

Farrelly: Yeah, that was in “There’s Something About Mary.” I started putting him in—after her gave me shit, I said, “First of all, we’ll start with you next movie,” and that was “Kingpin.” And then we started expanding. I saw a movie the other night, “Daruma.” Are you familiar with this?

check this out

Cooper: Oh, sure.

Farrelly: I saw it the other night, and Tobias Forrest is the lead, and John Lawson. And that’s the kind of movie that will move the needle. It stars people with disabilities, but it’s not about that.

Cooper: I didn’t get to go to the premier.

Farrelly: Fantastic!

Cooper: I’m looking forward to seeing it. We wrote about them back in 2019 as they were trying to get the film produced and all the challenges, as you would imagine, getting that made. I’ve known John for a long time and Toby for a long, long time. He’s in that system I told you about, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen him perform. He’s a rocker. He’s had a band. He’s just a great singer. The way he performs, it’s incredible. He’s an interesting guy.

Farrelly: I’ve not seen him, I’d seen him in smaller roles, but to see him in the leading of a movie will open doors for him because he’s really good in it. I always knew he was OK, because I’d seen him in things, but now I know he’s on another level. He really does a lot with a little. I’m talking about his acting style.

Peter Farrelly speaking with Daniel Monks on a movie set
Daniel Monks and Peter Farrelly on the set of Ricky Stanicky

Cooper: I get it, yeah.

Farrelly: It’s a very smart way of acting. I’m so impressed by it.

Cooper: He’ll be happy to hear you say that.

Farrelly: I really enjoyed the movie. But more than that, no matter what happens in a movie, if people can find him and say, “Oh, yeah, that guy’s spectacular,”– It’s hard to see somebody when you have a minute here and there, but when you see somebody in a 90-minute movie, whatever it is, and you see how he holds it, he carries that movie, along with John, by the way. John was spectacular, too. But Tobias was—he had a lot going on in there.

Cooper: I don’t know if you saw the article we did with John, that starts off with him being a person who’s a scuba diver, an instructor, it goes down this whole of things that he is, a pilot, he’s has all these things that he does that the general public would not expect a dual amputee to have.

Farrelly: How did he become an amputee?

Cooper: He was doing something, I think it was maybe painting on a water tower and somehow something was electrical and both hands got caught in the accident. But he’s also a talented guy.

Farrelly: Oh, yeah. He’s great in it. He plays a grouchy, grumpy neighbor, and they had taken a road trip together with this little girl. There’s a five-year-old actress in it who’s as good as any actress I’ve seen, young actor, kid actor, I’ve seen since the little girl in “The Florida Project.” That little girl was superstar. I have not seen somebody as good as her since, until this movie. And this little girl kills. It’s fantastic. It makes the movie because we have three really good actors in there, and if one of them was weak, it wouldn’t be that good. But it is good, it particularly helps that the five-year-old knows what she’s doing. That’s very rare.

check this out

But that also says a lot to the director. The director is Alex Yellen. He just directed her perfectly. She didn’t have a bad moment. That’s hard to do with a five-year-old.

Cooper: But we don’t know, she might be six playing five, you know?

Farrelly: No, I actually do know.

Cooper: I’m kidding with you!

Farrelly: I’m dead serious. She’s supposed to be four in the movie, and I was like, “How old is she, nine?” They said, “She turned five the week we were opening.” I was like, “Oh, my God!”

Cooper: That’s great! I’ve seen pictures of her because of that article we did. But that was in 2019 when it was filmed?

Farrelly: I’m not sure.

Cooper: She’s probably in her twenties now? (laughs)

Farrelly: (laughs) Yeah, she’s getting out of college. I told you, it’s hard to get movies made.

Cooper: (laughs) Exactly! I was going to make a joke that I did with I think it was Jim Abrahams. Who’s the guy who did “Airplane”?

Farrelly: The Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams. The three of them, David, Jerry, and Jim.

Cooper: I’m talking to Abrahams. He’s on the phone. I said, “Where are you?” He said LA. He asked me where I was and I said, “I’m in Orange County, so what time is it there?” And he stopped and said, “Oh, man, you got me! I love to be gotten!” (laughs)

Farrelly: (laughs)

Cooper: I almost did that with you, but I’ve done that joke before.

Farrelly: I’m actually in Portugal.

Cooper: (laughs)

Farrelly: It is going on 1 a.m. here right now.

Cooper: (laughs) Once I was visiting in NJ driving in one of the worst storms I’ve ever experienced, and the windshield wipers are going at the highest speed, it’s pouring down and I can barely see where I’m going on the road, get a phone call, take the call, and it’s a friend of mine from CA saying, “Hey, I’m going surfing, you want to go?” I’m like, “I can’t right now.” With cell phones, you have no idea where people are.

Farrelly: I’m on the 101 right now into LA from Ojai. I’m going by Del Norte Boulevard.

Cooper: I’ve got the tracking system on you. What is it like living up in Ojai?

Farrelly: I love it. I’ve always loved it. We’ve been there 17 years, I think. I love it on many levels. First of all, I love the great town. They have great schools. It’s a small town, only like 7,500 people. But it feels like a bigger town because of the Ojai Valley Inn and a few other nice motels and hotels. People come up on the weekend, so on the weekend you get a lot more people, and because of that, you have a bunch of good restaurants and bars and bands, there’s a lot to do for a little town. It’s not missing anything.

Cooper: How old are your kids now?

Farrelly: 22 and 24.

Cooper: Oh, wow! I saw the pictures that were in the first article with you and they were just small children.

Farrelly: Yeah, they’re grown up.

Cooper: What are they doing now?

Farrelly: My daughter has been in little movies, she’s had small parts in movies, but she just had a big role in “Ricky Stanicky.”

Cooper: Oh, good!

Farrelly: Yeah, she knocked it out of the park.

Cooper: I love that!

Farrelly: She’s of course terrified about the nepo baby shit, but she’s talented. She’s great. She’s just naturally good at it, so what’s she going to do? She really does knock it out of the park. My son, who’s also acting a bit, he’s involved with a blockchain company that he and his buddies from Tulane started. They’re just banging their heads against the wall trying to start with this start-up. I’m impressed. When I was 24, I didn’t even know you could start a company. They’re working at it. So, he’s learning a lot, no matter what happens.

Cooper: Are they using the blockchain for anything beyond NFTs?

Farrelly: Yes. They’re developing it—the more I speak of it, the less you’re going to understand because I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Cooper: I get you.

Farrelly: It has something to do with mortgages. They’re trying to do it so it protects your mortgages better than—see?

Cooper: I have a friend who’s got a PhD in physics and we have an article with him about blockchains and all that, and it started to go over my head. He was talking about being able to use certain things for utility purposes and safety and this and that. I can imagine what they’re doing is bringing state-of-the-art technology to some systems that have been around before the Internet.

Farrelly: Their brains are so different than ours or mine because they grew up in the computer age and we didn’t. And plus they played video games all day long as kids. I think that’s like doing push-ups for your brain. I remember when I was teaching them how to drive. We’re at a red light, he’s driving, I’m in the passenger seat, and he says, “Hey, Dad, do I need to pay attention to the lights facing me, or do I have to know the ones going left and right?” I looked at him, “What are you, a fucking idiot? The ones facing you!” And then we drove down the street about a quarter mile and I realized, “Oh! He sees things three dimensional, and I’m one dimensional. I just see what’s in front of me, but his brain is way more evolved.” So he’s a better thinking than me. It was a very good question. I just couldn’t even see it.

Cooper: And we’re looking at it pretty linear, and he’s kind of in this, “There must be something more complicated than just this red light in front of me.” (laughs)

Farrelly: Yeah. I was thinking, “What is wrong with you?” And then as we drove off, I thought, “How could he even—oh, OK, yeah.” Because when you go in a video game, you don’t go straight ahead, you go left, right, backwards, you’re looking everywhere. I don’t play those games. Just “Asteroids.” That’s all I know.

Cooper: I know Pacman, that’s about it.

Farrelly: Yeah, the little doggie. That was it. That was my _.

Cooper: In the way you have these irons in the fire, is there any methodology to you choosing projects?

Farrelly: No. I’ve said this before, it’s not well-thought-out. It’s what the universe brings me. Certain things, I read a lot of things, I get things, and then one day something really appeals to me, and that’s the one. I always look at Rob Reiner’s career and I think, “Wow, he’s so smart, he did ‘Spinal Tap,’” you know? And then the next thing he did was “Sure Thing,” a romantic comedy, and then he did “Stand By Me.” And then he did “A Few Good Men.” And all of a sudden after four movies, you realize that that guy can do anything.

I did comedy after comedy after comedy. It never even occurred to me not to do a comedy. I like them; that’s what was common to me. But one day, when “Green Book” came along, there was a friend of mine, Brian Currie, who told me the story and he wanted to write it, and I was like, “I love it! Let’s do it!” Again, the universe just brought it to me, it wasn’t intentional to go off the comedy track. It was just, that’s what came.

When the strike’s over, I intend to do a movie called “Balls Up.” It’s still coming together, so I don’t have enough to tell you about it because of the strike. I’m a big union guy. There’s zero progress being made right now because we’re on strike. I look forward to the strike ending and getting back to work.

Cooper: I get you. Did you know I used to publish “National Lampoon.”

Farrelly: That rings a bell. How long ago?

Cooper: I was the last publisher when the magazine was still being printed. I took it over from Jim Jimirro.

Farrelly: Were you there when the guy who took it over ended up going to prison?

Cooper: That might have been the guy after me.

Farrelly: You meet a lot of funny writers at a place like that.

Cooper: The reality was, it wasn’t as fun as it could have been because several of the writers were introverts, and they did better going home and coming up with humor, which was always frustrating for me. I would have liked to just knock it out all the time right there.

Farrelly: By the way, most comedy writers are introverts. They’re not like the class clowns. They work better alone. In fact, in a room they freeze up.

Cooper: I was pretty friendly, so they weren’t that frozen, but they definitely 100% did better going away and doing their thing.

Peter Farrelly on stage next to William H Macy
William H. Macy and Peter Farrelly

Farrelly: When you were working with Jim Abrahams, talking to him, did that have something to do with—because he has a son with a disability.

Cooper: Yeah, that’s why we were talking to him.

Farrelly: How’s his son doing?

Cooper: I don’t know. I need to get hold of him again. It’s been a long time.

Farrelly: I heard they’re making another “Naked Gun.” They’re going to do a remake.

Cooper: I wonder what the title will be. I love “33 1/3.”

Farrelly: They’ll come up with something. I love those guys. They’re the best. They’re the first guys I worked with.

Cooper: I didn’t know you’d worked with them.

Farrelly: Yeah, (with) them and Eddy Murphy at the same time, when I first came out here. I was in awe of them. First of all, they’re so talented, but great, great guys. And Eddy was great, too. I was lucky, I started with really nice people. It was great.

Cooper: Anything you could say, advice-wise to any people reading this who might be in their home in Rhode Island or wherever thinking they’re a good writer and they want to come out to LA?

Farrelly: Wow! That’s a tough one. I’ll say this. If it’s in you and you really want to do it, it’s the only thing you want to do, like it was for me at some point, but not until I was in my 20s, you’ve just got to do it. If you fail, it’s like Jim Carey said, his father he said could have been a great comedy writer or comic, but he didn’t. He took the safe way. He was an accountant. And he ended up getting fired from his accounting job, and he said he realized, “If I’m going to fail, I wanted to fail at something I love because you can also fail at something you don’t love.”

Cooper: That’s great. And that’s funny, that you were going to be an accountant.

Farrelly: I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be an accountant. There was nothing else I was trying to be. I think my brain grew late, when I was in my 20s, I started getting some clarity.

Cooper: I think it’s hard for most people. I know there are some people who say, “I was always going to be a doctor,” or “I was always going to be whatever,” but I think the majority of us wander around for many years if not for our whole life.

Farrelly: My father told me that he was a doctor, and when he was seven, he knew he wanted to be one and he became one. I remember when I was 22, he said, “So what are you going to do?” And I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “God damn it! You have to have an idea! You’re 22!”

Cooper: (laughs)

Farrelly: Most of my friends, honestly, they really didn’t figure it out until almost 30, if not 30. It takes time to find what you want. Not many people know when they’re seven or even 18, or even 22.

Cooper: Or 81.

Farrelly: That’s right!

Cooper: It sounds like your mother’s figured things out, though.

Farrelly: Yes, she’s got her shit together, more than anybody I know.

Cooper: Was she working? Was she a housewife?

Farrelly: When my father met her, she was in nursing school, and then she was a housewife when we were growing up. Then she went back to school and became a nurse practitioner, and she worked until really very recently. I think it was a year ago she stopped—she was only working for the last 10 years like one day a week. She’d go in and give shots and do this and that. They finally asked her to leave them alone. (laughs)

Cooper: (laughs) That’s pretty impressive. Nurse practitioner today is not the easiest thing to get.

Farrelly: No, she was great. She was really good.

Cooper: How does it work with you and Bobby? How do you make a decision on what projects to work on?

Farrelly: Again, same system. It just kind of comes. If we like it, we send it to him. He either likes it or doesn’t like it. When we both like something, you know.

We’re at the point now where we’re going off doing our own separate things. Life’s been too complicated to be having us both work on the same thing. Plus, it’s annoying after 30 years to have to listen to the other guy’s ideas. Both of us would rather do it ourselves.

Cooper: But you still go on tour?

Farrelly: On tour?

Cooper: It sounded like you were in a band. That’s where my mind went.

Farrelly: (laughs) We still make things together; it’s just different. Like, I just wrote the script that he just directed. But rather than both of us doing everything, we kind of split it up a little better. I’m now pulling up. My daughter, believe it or not, I’m taking her to an eyelash store. So, I’ll have to be pulling off here.

Cooper: Is there any way you could pick up some lashes for me while you’re in the store?

Farrelly: (laughs) Yeah, I’ll mail them to you. I know where you are. I’ll send them to the golf course.

Cooper: Hey, it was great talking to you.

Farrelly: Yeah, really fun! Great talking to you, too, as always.

Books by Peter Farrelly

sharing is caring

we did our part - now do yours and share

like a good neighbor, share

Related Articles: