9 Milestones in the Evolution of Will Ferrell

Talladega Nights (2006)

Following a few forgettable projects (the kids' film Kicking & Screaming; the ill-advised reboot of Bewitched), Ferrell rejoined McKay for this comedy about a lovable, Wonder Bread-sponsored NASCAR racer named Ricky Bobby. This was the first project for which Ferrell would earn a producing credit and by grossing just over $47 million at the box office its first weekend, Talladega Nights earned the second-biggest opening weekend of any original comedy after Bruce Almighty.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Three months later, Ferrell was back in theaters with a dramatic role -- this time with critical success. As a tax official who hears his life being narrated by a voice from above (Emma Thompson), the actor earned his second Golden Globe nomination (his first was for 2006's The Producers). Roger Ebert declared that Ferrell's performance "show[ed] that like Steve Martin and Robin Williams, he has dramatic gifts to equal his comedic talent."

The Landlord (2007)

To inaugurate Funny or Die, the comedy video website that Ferrell and McKay founded under their Gary Sanchez Productions shingle, the duo filmed the site's first submission, The Landlord. Featuring McKay's two-year-old daughter Pearl as Ferrell's profane landlord, the video received over 70 million views, helped the site secure funding and established Funny or Die as the best interactive comedy website on the Internet. After the overwhelming popularity of The Landlord, Ferrell, McKay and McKay's daughter reprised their roles later that year for Good Cop, Baby Cop.

Everything Must Go (2011)

Having established himself as one of the most gifted comedic actors of our generation (as well as a successful writer, producer and webtrepreneur), Ferrell continues to hone his dramatic chops in this weekend's indie feature Everything Must Go. In an understated role compared to his over-the-top characters of the Saturday Night Live era, Ferrell continues to show off his impressive range -- which, if he applies to the right role in the future, could easily lead to an Oscar nomination. (Think Robin Williams or fellow former SNLer Bill Murray.)

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