Ferrell was born in Irvine, California, the son of Betty Kay (née Overman; born 1940), a teacher who taught at Old Mill School elementary school and Santa Ana College, and Roy Lee Ferrell, Jr. (born 1941), a musician with The Righteous Brothers. His parents were both natives of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and moved to California in 1964. Ferrell's ancestry includes English, German, and Irish. He has a younger brother named Patrick. When he was eight years old, his parents divorced. Ferrell said of the divorce: "I was the type of kid who would say, 'Hey, look at the bright side! We'll have two Christmases'." The divorce was amicable and both parents were committed to their children. The biggest problem was his father's line of work. As a person in show business, his paychecks were never steady and he was gone from home months at a time. Growing up in the environment made Ferrell not want to go into show business, but get a steady job.
Will first attended school at Culverdale Elementary and later attended Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, both in Irvine. He attended University High School in Irvine, and was a kicker for the school's varsity football team. He was also on the soccer team and captain of the basketball team, as well as serving on the student council. Ferrell called third grade "a pivotal year". He realized he could make his classmates laugh if he pretended to smash his head against the wall, or if he tripped and fell on purpose, and said it was a great way to make friends. He said the dullness of Irvine contributed to the growth of his humor:
Growing up in suburbia, in safe, master-planned Irvine, there was no drama so we had to create it in our heads. My main form of entertainment was cracking my friends up and exploring new ways of being funny. I didn't have to have the survival mode instinct like other comics, who grew up in tough neighborhoods. I had the opposite. For me, I grew up in Mayberry, and the humor broke the boredom. And there was a lot to make fun of.
In his senior year of high school, Ferrell and a friend would perform comedy skits over the school's intercom system, with cooperation from the principal; the two had to write their own material. Ferrell also performed comedic skits in the school's talent shows. He won the "Best Personality" superlative voted by his classmates. He enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he studied Sports Broadcasting and joined the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. In college, he was known for a few pranks. On occasion, he would dress in a janitor's outfit and stroll into his friends' classes. Ferrell earned an internship at a local television station in the sports department, but he did not enjoy the work.
After graduating with a B.A. degree in Sports Information in 1990, he knew he did not want to do broadcasting. He took up a job as a hotel valet where, on his second day, he tore a baggage rack off the top of a van by trying to drive it under a low-lying beam. He also worked as a teller at Wells Fargo, but came up short $300 the first day and $280 the second; he was not stealing the money, but was just careless and error-prone. In 1991, encouraged by his mother to pursue something he liked, Ferrell moved to Los Angeles. He successfully auditioned for the comedy group The Groundlings, where he spent time developing his improvisation skills.
In August 2000, Ferrell married Swedish actress Viveca Paulin, whom he met in 1995 at an acting class. They live in New York City and Orange County and have three sons, Magnus Paulin Ferrell (born March 7, 2004), Mattias Paulin Ferrell (born December 30, 2006), and Axel Paulin Ferrell (born January 23, 2010).
At USC, Ferrell was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity and is now an active alumnus. Ferrell has worked with former head coach Pete Carroll to do motivational stunts for the players during the season. Ferrell has participated in marathons including the Boston, New York, and Stockholm Marathons. He also raises money for charity, including his Scholarships for Cancer Survivors campaign through Crowdrise, a social networking community for volunteers and a micro-donations fundraising platform.
In 2007, Autograph magazine named Ferrell the worst celebrity autographer. Its editor stated: "What's so frustrating about Will Ferrell being the worst autograph signer this past year is that he used to be so nice to fans and collectors and a great signer. What makes him so bad is that he'll taunt people asking for his autograph." In response, Ferrell stated: "I don't know how I got on the list. I sign a lot of autographs." He has, however, admitted to taunting autograph-seekers: "I do. I really do. I'm like, 'How badly do you want this autograph?' 'Are you sure?' 'You say you're my biggest fan, really, prove it.' I'll do things like that. They have to earn it."
On April 13, 2018, Ferrell was involved in a serious two-car collision in California, where he was riding in an SUV that flipped over. Ferrell was one of three passengers in the car. Ferrell was seen talking on his cell phone while being loaded into an ambulance. Ferrell, along with another passenger, was unhurt in the accident, although two others were injured. He was released from hospital shortly after, said to be "doing fine".
- ↑ "Will Ferrell Answers Internet Questions from Will Ferrell and Jake". Funnyordie.com. September 17, 2008.
- ↑ "Will Ferrell". AllMovie.com via The New York Times.
- ↑ "Will Ferrell 1967–". Biography Today (Omnigraphics, Inc.) 16 (2): 54. 2007. ISSN 1058-2347.
- ↑ "Will Ferrell Biography (1968?-)". Filmreference.com.
- ↑ "Biography - Will Ferrell". Watch TV Series.
- ↑ Riddick & Rountree and Related Families From Northeast North Carolina by Betty Smith Hobbs.
- ↑ Davis, Caris (January 24, 2008). "Will Ferrell Has Irish Award Society in Stitches – Will Ferrell". People.
- ↑ "Look Who's Related: Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane". Geni.com.
- ↑ Biography for Will Ferrell at the Internet Movie Database.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Biography Today, p.54.
- ↑ https://news.vice.com/story/will-ferrell-sets-the-record-straight-on-internet-rumors-about-will-ferrell
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Dave Albee, Chronicles: Celebrities love to practice with Pete, Marin Independent Journal, August 29, 2007.
- ↑ Biography Today, pp.54–55.
- ↑ Koltnow, Barry (July 25, 2008). "Will Ferrell says growing up in Irvine made him funny". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016.
- ↑ Biography Today, p.55.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Biography Today, p.56.
- ↑ "NEWS BRIEFS: Lynch Wedding Postponed". People Magazine. March 11, 2004.
- ↑ "Will Ferrell, Wife Viveca Welcome a Son". People Magazine. January 2, 2007.
- ↑ "Will Ferrell Welcomes Third Son". People Magazine. January 27, 2010.
- ↑ Keith Phipps, Interview: Will Ferrell, The A.V. Club (The Onion), October 29, 2003.
- ↑ "Will Ferrell on Crowdrise".
- ↑ "Will Ferrell named worst autograph signer". The Superficial. December 18, 2007.
- ↑ Rabin, Nathan Interview: Will Ferrell, The A.V. Club (The Onion), February 27, 2008.
- ↑ Honorary Degree Recipients 2017 - website of the USC Office of University Events
- ↑ "It's Dr. Will Ferrell after actor delivers USC graduation address — plus a song". Dailynews.com. May 12, 2017.
- ↑ Guglielmi, Jodi (April 13, 2018). "Will Ferrell Taken to Hospital After SUV Reportedly Flipped During Accident". People.
- ↑ Gonzalez, Sandra (April 13, 2018). "Will Ferrell unhurt, feeling 'grateful' after car accident". CNN.
- ↑ Petski, Denise (April 13, 2018). "Will Ferrell Released From Hospital After California Car Crash". Deadline.
- ↑ Will Ferrell - TV.com