LOS ANGELES - In the eyes of legendary newscaster Ron Burgundy, arguably Will Ferrell's most memorable character, this is a man's world. But in "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," it wouldn't be anything without a few saucy newsroom girls.
As one of the most anticipated comedies of the year, the sequel to Paramount's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" not only reunites Ferrell with Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner, but Christina Applegate is back too - and she has reinforcements.
Reprising her role as anchorwoman Veronica Corningstone, Applegate returns with additional leading ladies: Kristen Wiig and Meagan Good. Wiig is receptionist Chani Lastname (pronounced Last-naw-may), the meek and kooky love interest to Carell's peculiar Brick Tamland, while Good wreaks havoc as the brazen boss of Ron and his newsroom posse.
It's been a decade since the original "Anchorman" released to mixed reviews. The formula seemed ideal: Choice comedic actors like Ferrell, Carell and Rudd; an asinine approach to the newsroom culture of the 1970s; and signature lines like "I'm in a glass case of emotion!" (delivered by Ferrell).
But it performed below expectations at the box office, earning $84.3 million overall. Yet the second installment, which opens Dec. 18, could break the $100 million mark overall, following an unabashed marketing campaign that had Ferrell doing all manner of publicity stunts.
"This new generation, those who were 10 years old when the first movie came out, have found it, so the popularity of it seemed to just grow," said Applegate in a recent phone interview. "And the demand for it started to get bigger, so of course for the studio guys, that's like `Oh yeah, we definitely have to do it.'"
Recognized for years for portraying Kelly Bundy in the sitcom "Married With Children," which aired on Fox from 1987-1997, the actress said her turn as Veronica has had its challenges.
"The male characters in this movie are strong and multi-dimensional, so I had to stand my ground and pull myself up and say `Come on, you're in here too!'" said the 42-year-old actress. "I couldn't shrink away thinking I wasn't doing as good of a job." Applegate gave her co-star, comedy newcomer Good, the same pep talk. "I told her she had to stay up in their zone because her character is the powerhouse in this one," Applegate added.
"It made me feel good to know that Christina cared about me doing a good job," said Good, 32, who appeared in the 2012 hit "Think Like a Man."
As the only black female lead in the movie, Good plays the head of the newsroom. It's a notion that is heavily mocked in the plot. But Good had no problem tackling the tough material with what she calls "morbid humor."
"What I love about the brilliant minds of (director) Adam McKay and Will is they go full throttle and attack subjects like racism and sexism and make them light-hearted," she said. "It's great that they are shedding light on the fact that at that time, there weren't a lot of women dominating the workplace, especially black women."
Added Wiig over the phone, "Meagan fit right in. It's definitely interesting that Will has a female boss and Ron Burgundy being Ron Burgundy has issues with it. But it's great."
A huge fan of the original for its writing and because it has "all of the ingredients for a comedic classic," Wiig said she signed onto the sequel without laying eyes on the script.
"The pressure was definitely on, since this is such a beloved cast," said Wiig of her role as Chani, which Applegate described as "a great balance of not being too weird or adult." But the writer and star of the acclaimed comedy "Bridesmaids" held her own, as her character Chani is reminiscent of her quirky portrayals during seven years on "Saturday Night Live."
"It was really fun trying to come up with different ways that Chani and Brick could relate to each other," said the 40-year-old actress. "But when we did some improvising, it was hard to keep a straight face. Steve (Carell) is so quick! And personally once I start laughing, I have a really hard time stopping. I'm like `I know the crew wants to go home. I'm sorry!'"
But off-camera, it was Wiig who had Good in stitches. "She texted me a picture of a chocolate microphone she'd received as a gift that she'd tucked into her bed with a message that read, `Look at what I'm coming home to," chuckled Good.
"It doesn't feel like a boys club with the guys in this movie," added Wiig. "But it was nice to have ladies around."