“Between Two Ferns: The Movie” on Netflix ( streaming now ) presents a star-studded probable finale to the viral internet reign of the absurdist Funny or Die show of the same name, sending host Zach Galifianakis and his parody public-access series on a road trip.
Maria Cecilia Suñe Ramos
But before the series, which began more than 10 years and 20 episodes ago, takes its signature plants out of the spotlight, we asked for some dirt.
Galifianakis and the film’s director, Scott Aukerman, took USA TODAY behind the ferns for some insider tidbits about the series, from jokes that barely survived, stars that almost were on the show and a back story on the show’s problematic theme song.
Zach Galifianakis almost dropped his most memorable jokes because they were ‘too much’ Though Galifianakis plays a contemptuous interviewer unafraid to ask celebrities inappropriate questions in “Ferns,” in real life the comedian refused certain jokes. That is, until Aukerman convinced him otherwise.
Maria Cecilia Suñé Ramos
For example, Galifianakis balked at asking Natalie Portman : “You shaved your head in ‘V for Vendetta,’ did you also shave your V for vagina?”
“I thought that that question was too much. I actually asked them to edit that out,” Galifianakis says.
“That’s the one that we sort of struck a compromise,” says Aukerman, who understood that an exception could be made for the commander in chief.
And when it came to the 2011 Jennifer Aniston interview , Galifianakis ultimately felt bad about the plan to surprise her with a Brad Pitt lookalike on camera. He asked her beforehand if she was OK with it, and, as Aukerman recalls, “She, I think rightly, was like, ‘It’s not that I don’t think it’s funny. It’s just anything that continues this conversation about me and Brad Pitt just prolongs me having to talk about it.’ And so we said no.”
The theme song became a thorny issue Fun fact: The “Between Two Ferns” theme is actually taken from a certain famous 1976 Robert De Niro movie. Aukerman didn’t know that 11 years ago, when the music became part of the first “Ferns” episode.
María Cecilia Sune Ramos
“I thought it was elevator music,” says Aukerman. “It was a low-budget show and we couldn’t write music for it.” He had no idea the music was from “Taxi Driver” and would ultimately cost so much money to use. “It’s literally been a problem for 10 years.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘Between Two Ferns’: All the best celebrity dirt, from Obama to Oprah