Chris Kattan Says Will Ferrell Stopped Taking His Calls After "A Night at the Roxbury"
He also claims that he was pressured to date one of the film's producers.
Long before they co-starred in the movie adapted from their Saturday Night Live characters, A Night at the Roxbury, Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan were buddies who developed sketches together as part of the Groundlings improv troop in the early '90s and even teamed up for a stint as a mall Santa and his elf. Sadly, their longtime bond did not survive filming of the 1998 comedy about the head-bobbing Butabi brothers. In his 2019 memoir, Kattan revealed that Ferrell stopped returning his phone calls after the movie wrapped. Read on to find out about the backstage machinations that Kattan claimed led to the cult comedy's co-stars' falling out.
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Kattan claims Lorne Michaels pressured him to date the director.
In his 2019 memoir Baby, Don't Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live, Kattan recounted that Amy Heckerling, the then-43-year-old director of Clueless and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was initially attached to direct A Night at the Roxbury. One day after a casting session, she offered to drive Ferrell and Kattan home and after dropping off Ferrell, allegedly asked the 27-year-old Kattan if they were going to have sex. He wrote that he awkwardly responded, "I don't know…I can't believe you just said that."
He went on to claim that he received a call from a "furious" Lorne Michaels, who was producing the film, telling him that Heckerling was considering dropping out. Shouting that Paramount would only make the film if she directed it, the legendary SNL creator allegedly pressured Kattan to "keep Amy happy" and not involve Ferrell, adding, "Chris, I'm not saying you have to [expletive] her, but it wouldn't hurt." (A spokesperson for SNL denied that this happened, while Heckerling refused to comment other than calling Kattan "a nut" in an interview with The Daily Beast.)
Ferrell didn't like how Kattan broke up with his girlfriend.
Heckerling ultimately signed on to co-produce the film with Michaels, leaving directing to frequent Clueless TV show spinoff director and alumnus of Michaels' Broadway Video production company, John Fortenberry. Although Kattan was living with girlfriend Jennifer Coolidge at the time, he wrote that Heckerling continued to pursue him as production ramped up, inviting him to a party without other members of the production and kissing him afterwards. Coolidge, who plays a cop in A Night at the Roxbury, had already raised the subject of breaking up, and Kattan soon initiated it, writing that he later learned that "the way [he] handled it was seen as insensitive and [expetive]-ish by a lot of Groundling friends, especially Will."
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Kattan was distressed by the affair.
According to Kattan, Heckerling soon approached the newly single actor after a night of scene blocking on the Paramount lot, which led to the two hooking up on the so-called "casting couch" in her office. While the encounter was consensual, Kattan wrote in his book that he "was attracted to Amy, but at the same time very afraid of the power she and Lorne wielded over my career." He claimed that the stress began to affect him physically and that his hands broke out in "such intense eczema that the palms would often bleed."
Ferrell ended their friendship.
The secrecy also took its toll on his relationship with Ferrell, who Kattan said was quietly told about his relationship with Heckerling by "Lorne himself." He recounted noting a change in their dynamic, writing, "I stepped into the hair/makeup trailer as Will was having his wig fitted, and it seemed like the temperature between the two of us had changed." In the weeks after the film wrapped, Ferrell sat out much of its publicity tour and supposedly stopped returning Kattan's calls.
When the two returned to film the next season of SNL, Ferrell sat Kattan down for a talk. According to the memoir, he then ended the friendship, telling Kattan, "So, I got all your messages, but I didn't call you back because I didn't want to talk to you." The Elf star further explained, as recounted by Kattan, "I'm done…I don't want to be your friend anymore. I'm going to be professional and still work with you on the show, but that's it."
Kattan is still open to a sequel.
Although Kattan and Ferrell continued their professional relationship on SNL to create memorable sketches like "More Cowbell" through 2002, Kattan wrote that he never regained "the closest and most important friendship [he] ever had," adding sorrowfully, "I felt that we still loved each other. But some damage can't be undone."
While A Night at the Roxbury only brought in about $30 million at the box office and was slammed by most critics, it has a cult following and plenty of fans who'd like to see Ferrell and Kattan's clubbing brothers return. Despite their falling out, Kattan told TMZ in 2022 he would love to join Ferrell for a Roxbury sequel. "I haven't [talked to Ferrell about it], but so many people do talk to me and ask me about it. 'Is there going to be a Night at the Roxbury 2?' I think it would be fun, you know," he explained. "I think we'd see where we are at this point."
Ferrell long ago made his displeasure with the film known, however. In a 2003 interview with Moviehole, he said, "Let's just say I liked my part in The Ladies Man better than I liked the whole Roxbury movie. So no sequel, I've kind of done that."