Ed Asner paid Will Ferrell a major compliment in a recent interview. Saying the former Saturday Night Live comedian was the “funniest man I came across since Ted Knight,” his The Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star.
Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter, Ed Asner said most of the fan mail he receives these days centers around two films.
“My primary source of mail deals with one-syllable titles: Up and Elf. I love them both,” he said. “Will Ferrell is a genius and the funniest man I came across since Ted Knight. Up was geniously written.”
Ferrell and Asner worked together on Elf. The movie, which features Ferrell as a human raised at Santa’s workshop. Asner plays Santa Clause. The 91-year-old said Ferrell was “brilliant” in the role, and that he followed the comedian’s lead throughout the production.
“Will influenced my every move,” he told the Digital Journal in 2018. Asner added that he still enjoys watching the 2003 film whenever it’s on TV.
The script for Elf bounced around Hollywood for years. Producers originally considered Chris Farley for the role of Buddy, but Ferrell fell in love with the role after Farley’s death, it was reported. Though, it would take years before it would get made.
“I had it for a while,” Ferrell recalled in The Holiday Movies That Made Us. “If we could find a way to handle it correctly and shoot, the appeal of it was to be able to shoot a film that would be funny but also heartfelt and be a different type of thing for me to do in terms of something that a family audience would see.”
There have been talks of a sequel for years, but James Caan recently said that it would never happen. He noted that Ferrell and director Jon Favreau fought constantly during filming and their strained relationship stopped any chance of another film.
Ed Asner, Mary Tyler Moore Went on ‘Dull’ Date
Ed Asner starred as Lou Grant on the wildly popular Mary Tyler Moore Show. He played the eponymous star’s boss at the fictional television station WJM-TV in Minneapolis. On the show, the pair constantly bumped heads and fought. But off the set, they were very close.
In fact, they even went on a date once, but Ed Asner said it didn’t go well. He told The Hollywood Reporter that the date took place sometime late in the show’s run. And he only described it as “dull.”
However, they remained friends until her death. “She was a doll,” Asner remembers.
Mary Tyler Moore died in 2017 after contracting pneumonia. She was 80 years old.
Though their characters were never romantically linked in the show, their relationship was one of the most pivotal on the show. Asner’s gruff Grant and Moore’s spunky Mary Richards were exact opposites, leading to some of the best comedy in television history.