Old School

Did Will Ferrell Just Betray Bernie Sanders?

For months Will Ferrell was listed as a Bernie Sanders supporter by the Vermont senator’s campaign. But his appearance in Nevada with Bill Clinton seems to indicate a change of heart.

02.20.16 8:35 PM ET

How could you, Will Ferrell??

In the last hours leading up to Saturday’s Democratic caucuses in Nevada, the 48-year-old Hollywood actor and Saturday Night Live alum showed up in the Silver State with Bill Clinton to encourage voters to caucus for Hillary. 

“Eleven am, guys. Pass the word. Caucus for Hillary,” Ferrell — with former President Clinton at his side, flanked by Secret Service agents — reminds potential supporters in a Hillary for America video posted on Saturday morning.

The fact that a Hollywood A-lister is supporting Hillary Clinton is no surprise. Ferrell and his wife, Viveca Paulin, were major Democratic donors in 2012, each maxing out to President Obama‘s reelection campaign and to the Democratic National Committee. Ferrell previously cut (smaller) checks to the campaigns of Democrats Joe Biden and Howard Dean, and has acted in comedies and satires that espouse ostensibly liberal positions such as anti-Koch-brothers sentiment.

The kicker here is that, until very recently, Ferrell was on the long list of “Artists and Cultural Leaders for Bernie Sanders,” a roster of famous and respected musicians, actors, filmmakers, and other entertainers endorsing the democratic socialist to become the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. The list, promoted and curated by the campaign, includes Red Hot Chili Peppers, Susan Sarandon, Killer Mike, and Oscar-nominated filmmaker (and frequent Ferrell collaborator) Adam McKay.

Today, it appears that Ferrell’s name has been deleted from Artists for Bernie. 

The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Ferrell has stopped Feeling The Bern entirely. A Clinton campaign official messaged The Daily Beast on Saturday, “LOL yes he’s ours now. I don't know how to put this but…. it’s kind of a big deal.” (The latter sentence is likely a paraphrase of a quote by Ron Burgundy — one of Ferrell’s most famous roles — delivered early in the 2004 feminist comedy Anchorman.)

According to CNN, Clinton's campaign stated that Ferrell has also donated to her campaign and is planning on co-hosting a Los Angeles fundraiser on Monday.

Nevada was supposed to be a key component in the Clinton campaign’s much-touted firewall, but the rival Sanders campaign has made it a tougher fight than expected. As part of Team Hillary’s efforts to grab every last Nevada caucus-goer, they have deployed some of their celebrity allies to Nevada, now including Ferrell and 19-year-old actress Chloë Grace Moretz.

It is unclear how many Artists for Bernie will soon defect to Hillary — if they will wait to see if she becomes the party’s nominee, or if any of the big names will stray sooner rather than later.

Adam McKay (writer/director of The Big Short and Anchorman, and one of Ferrell’s professional partners in crime) told The Daily Beast that he would very likely support Clinton if she won the Democratic Party nomination, though McKay maintains his many reservations about her. 

“I loved that [Bernie] doesn’t take money from big banks, oil companies, or billionaires,” McKay said last month. “I was so sick of our politicians getting paid by these huge, moneyed interests.”

Earlier, when Clinton supporters in Los Angeles had asked him to come to her side, the filmmaker opted to stick with the self-described democratic socialist. For now at least, it does not seem likely that McKay will be hitting the campaign trail for Bernie, in the same way that Ferrell has for Hillary.

“I had donated to [Bernie’s] campaign, and had talked about doing a fundraiser...when he announced [his run],” McKay said. “As the movie came out, the campaign contacted me a couple times and my response was I think I should just step away at this point. I’d rather have [The Big Short] play clean than have an active Bernie Sanders campaigner at the helm because I think it’s really important that the movie play across partisan lines. I think this movie can do more good [that way].” (For the record, Sen. Sanders endorsed The Big Short, a comedy-drama that examines the housing bubble and the makings of the Great Recession, at a campaign event.)

As primary season continues, you can expect both Democratic camps to be fighting for every last high-profile endorser — Anchorman alumnus and otherwise.