Ferrell and McKay had been working together since joining "Saturday Night Live" in 1995.
McKay said Ferrell was angry after he cast John C. Reilly over him without letting Ferrell know.
"I fucked up on how I handled that," McKay told Vanity Fair.
When Will Ferrell and Adam McKay announced they were no longer going to work together in 2019, it marked the latest in a long list of comedy duos who decided to go their separate ways.
Having worked together since they both joined "Saturday Night Live" in 1995, the two went on to be responsible for some of the most beloved comedy movies of all time, including "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," "The Other Guys," and "Step Brothers."
At the time of the split, the two released a statement that made it sound as if, despite wanting to go their separate ways creatively, they were still in a good place, saying they will "always be friends."
But in a new profile in Vanity Fair, McKay, the director of a new Netflix movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, "Don't Look Up," dished on the breakup.
It started with the last phone call he had with Ferrell, McKay said, in which they officially split from the company they started, Gary Sanchez Productions.
"I said, 'Well, I mean, we're splitting up the company,'" McKay recounted to Vanity Fair. "And he basically was like, 'Yeah, we are,' and basically was like, 'Have a good life.' And I'm like, 'Fuck, Ferrell's never going to talk to me again.' So it ended not well."
And then things got worse, McKay said, when he decided to cast John C. Reilly over Ferrell for his HBO series on the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers. Ferrell was originally due to be cast as Lakers owner Jerry Buss, but McKay had a change of heart.
"The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it's hyperrealistic," McKay said. "And Ferrell just doesn't look like Jerry Buss, and he's not that vibe of a Jerry Buss. And there were some people involved who were like, 'We love Ferrell, he's a genius, but we can't see him doing it.' It was a bit of a hard discussion."
Ferrell didn't take it well, McKay said.
"I should have called him and I didn't," McKay said. "And Reilly did, of course, because Reilly, he's a stand-up guy."
When Ferrell was asked about the split with McKay in a Hollywood Reporter profile in October he didn't get into many details, only saying he didn't want to work as much as his former partner was.
"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 said. "At the end of the day, we just have different amounts of bandwidth."
Ferrell did not respond to Insider's request for comment.
McKay told Vanity Fair that he has emailed Ferrell trying to patch things up but has not heard back from him.
"I fucked up on how I handled that," McKay said. "It's the old thing of keep your side of the street clean. I should have just done everything by the book."
"In my head, I was like, 'We'll let all this blow over. Six months to a year, we'll sit down, we'll laugh about it and go, it's all business junk, who gives a shit? We worked together for 25 years. Are we really going to let this go away?'" he continued.
McKay added that he felt Ferrell "took it as a way deeper hurt than I ever imagined."
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