Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth Of Ron Burgundy

Throughout his career, comedian Will Ferrell has played plenty of memorable and larger-than-life characters, from Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights to Brennan in Step Brothers and Buddy the title elf in Elf, but few have left as large of a cultural imprint as Ron Burgundy, the eponymous anchorman of the Anchorman film series. Always clad in an impeccable suit and perpetually sporting perfect hair and an enormous mustache, Ron Burgundy is the perfect parody of a local newsperson, deeply overestimating his own importance, intelligence, and level of celebrity at basically every turn.

This fictional newscaster has "anchored" two films, but he's also appeared across several mediums, making it pretty clear that Ferrell is just as attached to this deeply beloved character as anyone else. You already know that he owns several leather-bound books and smells of rich mahogany, but here's a few things you might not know about San Diego's most beloved newsperson. This is the untold truth of Ron Burgundy.

Who plays Ron Burgundy?

Truly, there would be no Ron Burgundy without the man who plays him, and it's impossible to imagine anyone else stepping into Ron's perfectly polished shoes. However, Will Ferrell isn't Ron Burgundy in real life, but instead, a super-talented funnyman who's starred in some of the most popular comedies of the past few decades.

Of course, everybody knows that Ferrell got his start on Saturday Night Live, making himself a star during a seven-year run from 1995 to 2002. With impressions that range from Alex Trebek to George W. Bush to a host of original characters and three best-of specials, Ferrell made sure he was one of the show's most unforgettable cast members for years to come, and in the decades since he served as a regular cast member, it's hard to say that anybody's star rose as high as Ferrell's did.

In terms of film and television, Ferrell has appeared in everything from Wedding Crashers to Zoolander to Stranger than Fiction to The Office, creating huge, bombastic characters and proving that he'll do just about anything for a laugh but still infusing his roles with plenty of emotional heft and heart, especially in less raunchy projects like Elf. Ferrell also does plenty of work behind the scenes; he created Funny or Die with frequent collaborator Adam McKay, founded a now-shuttered production company with McKay, and has served as executive producer for shows like Eastbound & Down and Succession.

The original Anchorman

For many comedy fans, they can split their lives into two parts: before Anchorman, and after Anchorman. In the fledgling years of internet memes, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy hit theaters in 2004, giving fans one of the most quotable movies of all time (even years down the road, it's hard to make it through any given day, week, or month without at least one person referencing the film).

The now-classic movie tells the story of, naturally, Ron Burgundy, a local newscaster in San Diego who works alongside his intrepid news team, made up of Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), led by their boss Ed Harken (Fred Willard). Shortly after we meet them, their world is shaken by the addition of a female newscaster, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), with whom Ron falls in love.

Thanks to perfect gags like Brick's infantile brain, one-liners about milk being a bad choice and optical illusions in pants, Ron's description of San Diego's origin story, and, of course, a particularly well-placed "F word," Anchorman's quote well never runs dry, and Ferrell's central performance makes the entire film work seamlessly. It might be a pretty insane movie — the anchorman fight in the middle is still probably one of the oddest sequences ever committed to film — but there's no denying how funny it is from beginning to end, and over time, it has earned its place in comedy history.

Was there an Anchorman sequel?

If you thought the original Anchorman was crazy, it has nothing on its own sequel. Released in 2013, nearly ten years after its predecessor, the film sees Ron and Veronica working at a huge network in New York City. However, when older newscaster Mack Tannen (Harrison Ford) announces his retirement, he wants to give his job to Veronica rather than Ron, driving yet another rift between the franchise's main couple. Burgundy leaves his wife and child to join the first 24-hour news network alongside his original team, facing off against younger, more popular anchorman Jack Lime (James Marsden), who has the best time slot on the network. After a series of increasingly bizarre events, Burgundy defeats Lime, returns to his former glory, and reunites with his family.

The sequel includes the same style of running gags (and even a second anchorman fight, which is bigger and better than ever), temporary blindness (which affects Ron after a head injury), and a completely insane subplot in which Ron adopts and cares for a shark that he names Doby. While it never quite reaches the comedic heights of the original, it's still perfectly worthy entry into the Anchorman franchise in that it leans fully into its weirdness and never lets up. There's no concrete news on a third Anchorman film, but the minds behind the movies have indicated that it's not out of the realm of possibility.

What's Ron Burgundy all about?

Since the word "legend" is frequently used in reference to Ron Burgundy, it's easy to assume that he's a man who looms large, and that assumption is correct. Ron favors crisp, tailored suits, lives in a large, opulent house, and, until partway through the film, is one of the most beloved figures in all of San Diego. He also has a few passions: he loves his dog, Baxter, more than anything in the world; he moonlights as a jazz flute player; and, of course, he loves reading the news. 

Despite being relatively smooth with the ladies — he does manage to score Veronica — Ron can also be an absolute buffoon. He's typically misinformed and often criminally stupid (within just one scene, he struggles with common idioms and offers up a spectacularly wrong explanation of the meaning behind "San Diego"), and his professional jealousy, particularly when it comes to Veronica's success, is a bit out of control. Once his girlfriend begins to surge ahead, he does everything he can to sabotage her, from prank calling her to physical confrontation, showing a deeply ugly, chauvinistic side. However, perhaps his funniest flaw is the fact that he will read literally anything that the Teleprompter says, which is what ultimately leads to his (temporary) downfall during the first film. All in all, his signature swagger, deep and ridiculous voice, and perfect characterization by Ferrell have made him a classic comedic figure.

Ron Burgundy's real-life inspiration

It might seem pretty insulting to say Ron is based on a real person, but putting aside the shark-fathering, jazz flute, and general bombast, there is a real-life newscaster who inspired the man, the myth, and even the legend.

As far as his perfectly coiffed hair and deep, sultry voice go, Ron Burgundy does have a real-life influence, and his name is Mort Crim. The Philadelphia-born newsman went on to work local broadcasts in Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, Louisville, and more, and spent decades delivering the news before being inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia hall of fame in 2009. In 2013, Ferrell directly admitted that he was inspired by Crim's voice and general look, and as far as Crim goes, he seems to enjoy the imitation, telling USA Today, "Any good parody takes a grain of truth and exaggerates it for the big screen. People ask me if I'm offended at all and I say not in the least."

How did Ron Burgundy come to be?

One of the best things about Ron is that despite being such a broad parody, he feels so incredibly fleshed out and lived in that it seems as if his creators, Ferrell and director Adam McKay, must have put an incredible amount of thought into the minutiae of everything that would make Ron Burgundy so fully realized. As it turns out, the story has a few twists and turns.

Ferrell approached McKay and asked if he wanted to collaborate on a script about an entirely new character — not one from Ferrell's tenure at SNL — and the two put their heads together, ending up with several stories (including one that Ferrell described as "Glengarry Glen Ross meets a car dealership"), creating an ensemble script that stalled at Paramount. However, they eventually got help from the least likely of sources.

Paul Thomas Anderson, the auteur known for There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights, stepped in and offered to "shepherd" the pair's script, and after several odd drafts, they eventually landed on what would become Anchorman. McKay and Ferrell certainly are well known for genre spoofing, and as far as Anchorman goes, the inspiration was simple; as McKay told Den of Geek, "in the case of Anchorman, it was Will saw an interview with a '70s anchorman, talking about how sexist they were. And it was that tone of voice he loved."

Ron Burgundy, awards show legend

Any newsperson worth their salt usually does a stint during awards season, and one year, Ron Burgundy did just that, when Ferrell interviewed various celebrities during the 2004 MTV Movie Awards. The celebrities were real, the anchorman was fictional, and the results were really, really awkward.

Burgundy's interview with Jim Caviezel, who had recently appeared as Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, kicks off these oddball segments by positing that Burgundy truly believes Caviezel is the real Jesus Christ, asking him questions like, "Yahweh, when did you decide to get into acting?" and "Is it hard to pretend you can't make every shot a hole in one with your Jesus powers?" The ensuing three and a half minutes, during which Burgundy repeatedly calls Caviezel "my Lord," are hilariously strange, especially since Caviezel gamely plays along with the gambit. Stranger still is his interview with Rebecca Romijn (who, at that point, went by her married name of Romijn-Stamos). Burgundy refers to her as "Dame," asks her a statement instead of a question ("You are electric. You are electric?") before attempting to seduce her and singing her a truly insane song about sailing the seven seas together and "making a baby" named "Jose Romjin-Stamos." Imagine a precursor to Between Two Ferns conducted by Ron Burgundy, and you've got these two interviews.

Ron Burgundy loves making frequent television appearances

Ron Burgundy's stint at the MTV Movie Awards was mostly to keep the Anchorman love going, but over the years, he's made plenty of television appearances at pretty random times. 

During the promotional period for Anchorman 2, Burgundy made a few appearances on Conan O'Brien's late night show, but his in-character pop-ups go way beyond simple movie promotions. Burgundy is a strangely huge presence in sports, appearing on coverage of the 2014 Sochi Olympics as well as a Los Angeles Kings game in 2019. He has also advertised for Dodge in a series of commercials while in character, appeared at the 2015 Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber, and overall, just pops up from time to time to promote a project or seemingly for no reason at all. It makes sense that Ferrell would want to keep bringing back such a popular character, and no matter the circumstance, it's always a pleasure to see him again.

Ron Burgundy staged a late night takeover in 2019

In the summer of 2019, Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy really ramped up his public appearances, staging a sudden and extremely fun late night takeover. On one random Thursday, six different shows listed a "Surprise Guest" in their credits, and that guest turned out to be none other than Burgundy. On Thursday, August 8, Burgundy appeared on The Late Show, The Late Late Show, The Tonight Show, Conan, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! nearly simultaneously, even though all six of those shows shoot at roughly the same time and on both coasts of the United States. He even wore the exact same outfit for all of them, likely meant to confuse viewers about how he pulled this off. Naturally, he made use of pre-tapes for a few of them, but the feat is still pretty astounding.

Burgundy showed up to "work on his comedy routine" (which, in its various iterations, is absolutely terrible) and, more realistically, promote his upcoming Ron Burgundy Podcast, but the question remains as to why he chose to do the publicity this way, or why he chose to do it at all. The fact of the matter is that Ron Burgundy does what Ron Burgundy wants, and in this instance, what Ron Burgundy wanted was to wow his fans in the most absurd way possible.