Adam McKay (born April 17, 1968) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, comedian, and actor. McKay served as head writer for the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live for two seasons. He directed Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Step Brothers (2008), The Other Guys (2010), and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), all of which he co-wrote with his creative partner Will Ferrell. Together McKay and Ferrell have co-written and produced numerous TV series and films, and produced their comedy website Funny or Die and HBO's Eastbound & Down through their company Gary Sanchez Productions.
McKay in 2019
|Born||April 17, 1968|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Education||Great Valley High School|
Shira Piven (m. 1996)
McKay's The Big Short (2015) was the first film he directed without Ferrell in the cast. Venturing into more dramatic territory, he was nominated for several awards including the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay and two British Academy Film Awards, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, with cowriter Charles Randolph winning Best Adapted Screenplay at each respective ceremony. In 2018, McKay wrote, directed, and produced Vice, a biographical comedy-drama about former US vice president Dick Cheney, which earned him Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
McKay was born in 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a cocktail waitress mother, Sarah, and a bassist father. He graduated from Great Valley High School in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and attended Penn State and Temple University. McKay dropped out from the university a semester-and-a-half before he was set to earn his bachelor's degree. He described it as "settling with an imaginary degree".
He is one of the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade improv comedy group and a former performer at Chicago's Improv Olympic, where he was a member of the improv group, The Family, whose members included Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Neil Flynn, Miles Stroth, and Ali Farahnakian, and Child's Play Touring Theatre. While a member of the mainstage cast at Second City, he wrote and performed in that company's landmark revue, Pinata Full of Bees. In several politically charged sketches, McKay played characters like Noam Chomsky as a substitute kindergarten teacher, and a hapless personnel manager trying to inform a corporate vice president (Scott Adsit) of some disastrous IQ test results without losing his own job. The latter performance was excerpted in Second City's 40th anniversary compilation.
Writing, acting, and producing
McKay originally auditioned for Saturday Night Live to be an onscreen performer, but did not make the cut. However, the scripts he submitted to the long-running sketch show earned him a job as writer from 1995 to 2001, including two seasons as head writer. He also directed a number of short films for the show, including the original SNL Digital Shorts. McKay encouraged his Second City friend Tina Fey to submit some of her scripts to Saturday Night Live, and she later succeeded him as head writer. Though McKay was never an actual SNL cast member, he did make several on-camera appearances over the years and had a recurring role as an obnoxious audience member "Keith" who would often shout insults at the celebrity hosts during their opening monologue.
Shortly after leaving SNL, McKay teamed up with comedian Will Ferrell to write the comedy films Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Step Brothers (2008), and The Other Guys (2010), all of which he also directed, produced and made cameo appearances in as an actor. In 2007, the duo launched the user-submitted comedy video site Funny or Die. A video on the site, titled The Landlord features both him and his young daughter, Pearl, whom Ferrell and his wife bait to say curse words. Pearl also starred in a second video titled Good Cop, Baby Cop. Ferrell and McKay co-produce the HBO series Eastbound & Down.
McKay was one of the writers for the film The Campaign (2012), and produced the film Daddy's Home (2015), the latter of which reunited The Other Guys stars Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and was directed by Sean Anders. McKay wrote the screenplay for and directed The Big Short (2015), the film adaptation of Michael Lewis's book about the 2006–10 financial crisis, and the build-up of the financial and credit bubble; the film starred Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Melissa Leo, Marisa Tomei, and Byron Mann. He rewrote the script for the Marvel Studios feature film Ant-Man, directed by Peyton Reed. McKay also worked with Reed, Paul Rudd, Gabriel Ferrari & Andrew Barrer on Ant-Man and the Wasp to flesh out the story.
He produced the films Land of the Lost (2009), The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009), The Virginity Hit (2010), Casa de Mi Padre (2012), Bachelorette (2012), Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012), The Campaign (2012), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), Tammy (2014), Welcome to Me (2014), Get Hard (2015), Sleeping with Other People (2015), Daddy's Home (2015), and The Boss (2016).
McKay has directed, and co-written with Will Ferrell, the films Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Step Brothers (2008), The Other Guys (2010), and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013). He has directed an "alternate film" about Ron Burgundy that is considered a companion to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) entitled Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie (2004), which is made up mostly of alternative takes, deleted scenes, and scrapped sub-plots from the original film strung together with a narrative.
McKay directed the TV movie documentary Lifecasters (2013). He has directed a number of short films, including digital shorts for Saturday Night Live, and the short video Good Cop, Baby Cop for Funny or Die that stars his daughter Pearl. Among the other short films he has directed include The Procedure (2007) starring Will Ferrell, Willem Dafoe, and Andy Richter, Green Team (2008) starring Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and himself, and the K-Swiss commercial, Kenny Powers: The K-Swiss MFCEO (2011), starring Danny McBride as Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down, which he co-produces with Ferrell and has also directed an episode of ("Chapter 5", Season 1, Episode 5).
He directed and wrote the film adaptation of the Michael Lewis non-fiction book The Big Short, released in 2015. He received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work in the film, winning his first Academy Award following his victory in the latter category. In 2016, he and co-writer Charles Randolph received the USC Scripter Award.
McKay will work with Jennifer Lawrence for a biographical film titled Bad Blood which tells the story of entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, based on the book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. It is in development and will be produced by Legendary Pictures and released by Universal Pictures. Vanessa Taylor is writing the script. McKay has also expressed interest in making a film about global warming.
In 1996, he married Shira Piven, who directed the 2014 feature film Welcome to Me starring Kristen Wiig. They have two children. His brother-in-law is actor Jeremy Piven. McKay has an essential tremor, a benign neurological disorder that sometimes causes shaking.
McKay serves on the Creative Council of Represent.Us, a nonpartisan anti-corruption organization. He is a supporter of the Democratic Party and endorsed Bernie Sanders for President of the United States in 2016 and again in 2020. He identifies as a democratic socialist.
|2004||Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy||Yes||Yes||No||Directorial Debut|
|Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie||Yes||Yes||No|
|2006||Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby||Yes||Yes||executive|
|2010||The Other Guys||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2013||Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|The Big Short||Yes||Yes||No||Co-written with Charles Randolph|
- Producer only
|2009||Land of the Lost||Brad Silberling||Executive producer|
|The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard||Neal Brennan|
|2010||The Virginity Hit||Huck Botko
|2011||Casa de Mi Padre||Matt Piedmont|
|Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie||Tim Heidecker
|The Dictator||Larry Charles||Executive producer|
|2013||Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters||Tommy Wirkola|
|The Yes Men Are Revolting||Laura Nix
|Welcome to Me||Shira Piven|
|2015||Sleeping with Other People||Leslye Headland|
|Daddy's Home||Sean Anders|
|2016||The Boss||Ben Falcone|
|Grimsby||Louis Leterrier||Executive producer|
|2017||Oh Lucy!||Atsuko Hirayanagi|
|The House||Andrew J. Cohen|
|Daddy's Home 2||Sean Anders|
|Holmes & Watson||Etan Cohen|
|2019||Booksmart||Olivia Wilde||Executive producer|
|2020||Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar||Josh Greenbaum||Filming|
- Acting roles
|2002||God Hates Cartoons||Uncle Gabby|
|2003||Pushing Tom||The Boss|
|Felicia and the Great Quebec||Big Dick Cash|
|2004||Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy||Custodian|
|Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie|
|2006||Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby||Terry Cheveaux|
|2008||Step Brothers||Man without Glasses|
|2010||The Other Guys||Dirty Mike|
|1995–2001||Saturday Night Live||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|2007||Human Giant||No||No||No||Yes||Role: Alan Harkett (voice)|
Episode: "24 Hour Marathon"
|2009–2013||Eastbound & Down||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|2010–2011||Funny or Die Presents||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
Executive Producer Only
|2014||The Spoils of Babylon||Miniseries|
|2015||A Deadly Adoption||Television film|
|2015–2017||The Chris Gethard Show|
|I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman|
|2018||LA to Vegas|
|2019||Dead to Me|
|Live in Front of a Studio Audience||Television specials|
|The Landlord||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Role: Friend|
|Good Cop, Baby Cop||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Role: Policeman|
|2008||Green Team||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Role: Erin Gossamer|
|Paris Hilton Responds to McCain Ad||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Ron Howard's Call to Action||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|2008–2016||Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis||No||No||Yes||No|
|Will Ferrell's NYPD Recruitment Video||No||No||Yes||No|
|2011||A Public Statement from Anthony Weiner's Penis||No||No||Yes||No|
|2015||Mexican Donald Trump||No||No||Yes||No|
|2017||The President's Sun||No||No||Yes||No|
Awards and nominations
- "Men in Blue, Under Arrested Adolescence". The New York Times. August 1, 2010. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
- "'The Other Guys' mothers take over in special Mom-entary". EW.com.
- Maehrer, Avery (December 12, 2013). "Anchorman director Adam McKay reflects on Philly past". The Temple News. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
- "Will Ferrell and Pearl in The Landlord". Archived from the original on August 10, 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2007.
- Hotz, Amy (October 21, 2008). "StarNewsOnline.com". StarNewsOnline.com. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
- Perry, Spencer (April 12, 2016). "Peyton Reed: Ant-Man and the Wasp Will Feature Things 'Never Seen in a Movie Before'". ComingSoon. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
- "'Twilight' Stars Offered Roles in 'Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters', Bloody-Disgusting.com
- Jr, Mike Fleming (May 5, 2016). "20th Century Fox Taps BOOM! Superhero Tale 'Irredeemable'; Adam McKay Helms, Tommy Wirkola Scripting". Retrieved September 14, 2016.
- Jr, Ali Jaafar, Mike Fleming (June 21, 2016). "'Bad Blood' Bids Mobilize for Jennifer Lawrence-Adam McKay Package: 9 Offers". Deadline. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
- "Elizabeth Holmes Movie to Star Jennifer Lawrence". ComingSoon.net. June 9, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
- Jr, Ali Jaafar, Mike Fleming (June 23, 2016). "Legendary Wins Jennifer Lawrence-Adam McKay 'Bad Blood' Auction". Deadline. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
- Nicolaou, Elena. "Everything We Know About The Bad Blood Movie". www.refinery29.com.
- Allen, Ben (February 11, 2019). "Vice director Adam Mckay has his sights set on global warming for next film". Radio Times. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
- "New Podcast: Surprisingly Awesome". Gimlet Media. Gimlet Media. Archived from the original on November 19, 2015. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
- "Shira Piven IMDB: Biography". Retrieved September 12, 2014.
- Goodyear, Dana (March 14, 2011). "Hollywood Shadows". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
- "About | Represent. Us". Retrieved July 8, 2016.
- Johnson, Ted (September 18, 2015). "Will Ferrell Among Bernie Sanders Celeb Supporters". Variety. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- "Artists for Bernie - Bernie Sanders". Archived from the original on January 4, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- McKay, Adam [@GhostPanther] (February 19, 2019). "Join me in volunteering to help @BernieSanders secure the democratic nomination & become president. You don't have to give $, sweat is worth more. You'll have fun winning #MedicareForAll & stopping capitalist wars. Sign up:" (Tweet). Retrieved February 21, 2019 – via Twitter.
- McKay, Adam (November 3, 2017). "I consider myself a Democratic socialist. Always have". @ghostpanther.
- nama chakravorty (August 10, 2012). "The Campaign (2012)". IMDb.
- Jr, Mike Fleming; Jr, Mike Fleming (May 14, 2018). "'Shape Of Water's Vanessa Taylor To Script Theranos Scandal Pic 'Bad Blood' For Adam McKay & Jennifer Lawrence". Deadline. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
- allenmck (September 6, 2012). "Bachelorette (2012)". IMDb.