RICKY STANICKY Director Peter Farrelly On His Fun New Comedy, John Cena, DUMB AND DUMBER 3, & More (Exclusive)

With Ricky Stanicky now streaming, exclusively on Prime Video, we were recently able to catch up with Academy Award-winning director/writer Peter Farrelly (Dumb and DumberThere’s Something About MaryFever Pitch) to talk about his fun new buddy comedy.

In addition to our conversation about the film, where he covers the process behind getting this script to screen, working with John Cena and Zac Efron, and his comedy preferences, he also breaks down what piques his interest as a director today, how he initially made the transition to filmmaking, and whether he’d ever make a sequel to one of his many classic titles. 

Ricky Stanicky stars Zac Efron, Jermaine Fowler, Andrew Santino, Lex Scott Davis, Anja Savcic, Jeff Ross, William H. Macy, and John Cena. 

Watch our full interview with Oscar-winning director Peter Farrelly below and/or keep scrolling to read the full transcript! Plus, please remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more exclusive content!

ROHAN: You’ve done so many different kinds of films, what kind of stories speak to you today, as a director/writer? 

PETER: It’s a funny thing. It’s not one thing, it’s just, I know when I hear it, and I’m not like going out looking for specific things and people telling me stories all the time, or I hear about this or script ideas, and when I hear it, I know it, like The Greatest Beer Run Ever, I remember thinking, what an amazing thing that this guy took beer to his friends in Vietnam during the war, and I just knew I wanted to do it. And Ricky Stanicky, same thing, right now, I’m actually looking at a project about Billy Walters, who is considered the world’s greatest sports bettor, and it’s a real guy and I’m just fascinated. So, I don’t really know until I hear it.

ROHAN: John Cena is hilarious in this movie – what was it like working with him? He seems like he was really up for anything you put him through, was that all scripted or were there ever moments where you’d ask him to try something different?

PETER: It’s mostly scripted, I’m not surprising them at the end, but no, it is 95% scripted, and then, we say, okay, let’s try this, let’s try that, but, you know, John was the most prepared actor I’ve ever worked with. He knew that script backwards and forwards before we ever started shooting it, and just nailed it, and I think people are gonna be shocked at how funny he is.

ROHAN: There’s a real sincerity to the ending of this film, which is a sort of common theme we see across many of your films, that sincerity and genuineness – what is your approach to capturing those sorts of emotions on screen?

PETER: Well, I always just think if the characters are real, and you feel that they are real people, and their hearts are in the right place, then you’re going to like them more, and also, we can have more fun with them. More jokes, more laughs, if you like them, and there is a message to this movie. It’s not just a bunch of laughs, there are many messages. One is, you know, that anybody can change at any time, if they just decide, I’m going to be a better person, and be that and you can actually do it, and more than that – the other thing is what happens when your lies come alive, and these guys have been telling these lies forever, and all of a sudden, those lies are in this person, and they gotta live with their own lies. And how do you do that? There’s a lot of little interesting things in there.

ROHAN: In addition to reuniting with Zac Efron, you also get to work with Andrew Santino and Jermaine Fowler, both of whom are comedians turned actors. What is it like when you’re working with these talented comedians and trying to best utilize their skill sets in a film setting?

PETER: Well, they’re both great actors. I knew that. But yeah, it’s nice to have those two guys, like I compare them – they would be Jack Lemmon, both those guys, those are the Jack Lemmon characters to Zac’s Tony Curtis. Zac’s the leading man guy, he’s the guy that seems like the straight man, it’s not at all. It’s the guy who holds it all together, it’s Zac, and if you don’t have Zac, there’s nothing. But he’s the guy, who’s in the center and trying to make sense of this all, but he’s also the guy who started the whole thing, the lie, and there’s a reason that he has. It’s interesting.

ROHAN: I saw that you also contributed to the script for this film – what were your contributions to the story and what was the sort of development process behind getting this picture made?

PETER: I got this script 15 years ago, and it was written by a guy named Jeff Bushell, and the idea was there was a guy, they create a character that they blame everything on, but it didn’t go the way it goes down, and then, we rewrote it with other guys Brian Jarvis, Jim Freeman, Pete Jones, and Mike Cerrone, there was a big group of us. We all went in and we wrote it and then, rewrote it and then rewrote it, it took forever because it’s a complicated – it took me longer than any script I’ve ever worked on, because the truth is, the jokes are great. I love the jokes, but the thing that makes it work, for me, is that there’s a reason behind the lies.

ROHAN: I saw that you were an accounting major back in college before transitioning to a career in filmmaking and screenwriting. Accounting is also my day job, so wanted to ask you about what motivated you to make the change at that stage of your life and how you initially got into directing and writing?

PETER: I got out of high school, my brain was like a big blob of nothing, and when I started college, I met with my advisor the first week, and he said, what’s your major? And, I said, I don’t know. He said, well, you have good math boards, how about accounting? Okay. And that was literally all the thought that went into it, that two seconds, and I did that for four years, because there was nothing. It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20s, where it occurred to me, sheesh, you know, what am I doing? They say, age 25 is the age of reason, and it was right about then where I started thinking, well, how did I get into this? And I, for the first time my life, pursued something which was writing. And I don’t know, I like to think that my brain hadn’t grown yet until I was in my mid 20s.

ROHAN: Your show Loudermilk is currently blowing up on streaming and the numbers have been really great, which is something I’m sure you’ve experienced before as many of your films are almost always playing on TBS and other channels, where new audiences can find them. As the creator behind many of these projects, what’s it like seeing one of your projects find appreciation on a new platform or a while after their initial premiere dates? 

PETER: It was kind of a gift. Believe it or not, it was a gift, we made that show on a thing called the Audience Network, which no longer exists, and they didn’t have a lot of money, but they told us come here, make your show, you can do whatever you want. We’re not going to interfere. They gave us notes, by the way, but they were good notes, and very few. So, we just went off in three years, and we did a show that nobody was stopping us from doing and luckily, now it’s back on Netflix, and when it came on Netflix, instead of having like a 10 episode, one season, there’s thirty episodes so you can really, really get into it. But more than that, there’s a ton of humor in there that people aren’t afraid to do, and we weren’t, we did it and I think that’s why the thing is succeeding, I think, because there was nothing holding us back. And I’m really proud of that show and I want to do a couple more seasons of it, at least.

ROHAN: I’ve always been a big fan of Fever Pitch since I’m a Red Sox fan, so was always curious whether you ever considered making a follow-up to that film, possibly following a different sports team like the Celtics or Patriots? Or have you thought about making a sequel to any of your other classic films?

PETER: Oh, you know, it’s funny, you should ask that because we have been talking about doing a TV show about Fever Pitch and the idea is it’s about people who work in the front office of the Red Sox, and that world, but it didn’t seem like, when we made it, it didn’t seem like a sequel type movie, because it had the greatest ending ever. We got lucky. They won the whole thing, because originally, when we did it – by the way, that script was written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel – And when we were doing it, they were supposed to lose, like they always do, and they didn’t, and we were winging it. It was kind of an amazing moment to be there, but so, yeah, other sequels, I would do a third Dumb and Dumber. I really like hanging with those guys.

When three childhood best friends pull a prank gone wrong, they invent the imaginary Ricky Stanicky to get them out of trouble! Twenty years after creating this ‘friend,’ Dean, JT, and Wes (Zac Efron, Andrew Santino, and Jermaine Fowler) still use the nonexistent Ricky as a handy alibi for their immature behavior. When their spouses and partners get suspicious and demand to finally meet the fabled Mr. Stanicky, the guilty trio decide to hire washed-up actor and raunchy celebrity impersonator “Rock Hard” Rod (John Cena) to bring him to life. But when Rod takes his role of a lifetime too far, they begin to wish they’d never invented Ricky in the first place. From director Peter Farrelly and featuring additional cast members including William H. Macy, Lex Scott Davis, and Anja Savcic.

Ricky Stanicky is now streaming on Prime Video!