The duo first connected while working at Saturday Night Live in the mid-1990s. Ferrell joined the show as a cast member in September 1995 for the series’ 21st season, while McKay came on board as a writer.
The Big Short director originally auditioned for an onscreen role on the long-running NBC variety show, but he was offered a role as a writer instead. He became head writer at age 27 within one year of joining the crew.
Ferrell, meanwhile, became one of SNL‘s biggest stars of all time, appearing in classic sketches where he played characters including Alex Trebek and Craig the Spartan cheerleader. After he left the show in 2002, he reunited with McKay, who’d left the previous year, to work on feature films.
Their first project together was 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which became an instant hit with its quotable lines and hilarious cast. The movie was so beloved by fans that the duo decided to make a sequel nearly a decade later.
“Wherever we were in the world, whatever we were promoting, the last round of the interview was always, ‘Can I ask you a few questions about Anchorman? Will there ever be a sequel?'” Ferrell told The Guardian in December 2013, explaining why the producing partners decided to make 2013’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. “So, eventually Adam and I were like, ‘Why not? We love this character.'”
Over the next six years, however, their prolific partnership came to a halt. In April 2019, the pair decided to dissolve their company, Gary Sanchez Productions, after nearly 15 years, announcing that all projects in production at the time would be completed.
Six months later, McKay struck out on his own with Hyperobject Industries, while Ferrell proceeded with Gloria Sanchez Productions, which was originally spun off from Gary Sanchez to produce female-focused work.
In October 2021, the Blades of Glory star explained that one reason for the split was his former partner’s ambition to keep growing Gary Sanchez into a Hollywood empire. “Adam was like, ‘I want to do this, and this, and this’; he wanted growth and a sphere of influence, and I was just like, ‘I don’t know, that sounds like a lot that I have to keep track of,’” Ferrell told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. “To me, the potential of seeing a billboard, and being like, ‘Oh, we’re producing that?’ I don’t know. … At the end of the day, we just have different amounts of bandwidth.”
Keep scrolling for a look back at McKay and Ferrell’s ups and downs over the years: