Adam McKay

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Adam McKay
McKay in 2015
McKay in 2015
Born (1968-04-17) April 17, 1968 (age 50)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • Film director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • comedian
EducationGreat Valley High School
Years active1986–present
Shira Piven (m. 1996)

Adam McKay (born April 17, 1968) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, comedian, and actor. McKay served as head writer for the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live for two seasons. He directed Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Step Brothers (2008), The Other Guys (2010), and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013). McKay has a creative partnership with actor Will Ferrell, with whom he has co-written and produced TV series and films.

The Big Short (2015) was the first film McKay directed without Ferrell in the cast. Venturing into more dramatic territory, he was nominated for several awards including the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay and two British Academy Film Awards, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, with McKay and co-writer Charles Randolph winning Best Adapted Screenplay at each respective ceremony.

McKay and Ferrell produced their comedy website Funny or Die and HBO's Eastbound & Down through their company Gary Sanchez Productions.

Early life[edit]

McKay was born in 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a cocktail waitress mother and a bassist father.[1] He graduated from Great Valley High School in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and attended Penn State and Temple University. McKay dropped out from the university a semester-and-a-half before he was set to earn his bachelor's degree. He described it as "settling with an imaginary degree".[2]

He is one of the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade improv comedy group and a former performer at Chicago's Improv Olympic, where he was a member of the improv group, The Family, whose members included Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Neil Flynn, Miles Stroth, and Ali Farahnakian, and Child's Play Touring Theatre. While a member of the mainstage cast at Second City, he wrote and performed in that company's landmark revue, Pinata Full of Bees. In several politically charged sketches, McKay played characters like Noam Chomsky as a substitute kindergarten teacher, and a hapless personnel manager trying to inform a corporate vice president (Scott Adsit) of some disastrous IQ test results without losing his own job. The latter performance was excerpted in Second City's 40th anniversary compilation.


Writing, acting, and producing[edit]

McKay originally auditioned for Saturday Night Live to be an onscreen performer, but did not make the cut. However, the scripts he submitted to the long-running sketch show earned him a job as writer from 1995 to 2001, including two seasons as head writer. He also directed a number of short films for the show, including the original SNL Digital Shorts. McKay encouraged his Second City friend Tina Fey to submit some of her scripts to Saturday Night Live, and she later succeeded him as head writer on the show. Though McKay was never an actual SNL cast member, he did make several on-camera appearances over the years and had a recurring role as an obnoxious audience member named "Keith" who would often shout insults at the celebrity hosts during their opening monologue.

Shortly after leaving SNL, McKay teamed up with comedian Will Ferrell to write the comedy films Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Step Brothers (2008), and The Other Guys (2010), all of which he also directed, produced and made cameo appearances in as an actor. In 2007, Ferrell and McKay launched the user-submitted comedy video site Funny or Die. A video on the site, titled The Landlord[3] features both him and his young daughter, Pearl, whom Ferrell and his wife bait to say curse words. Pearl also starred in a second video titled Good Cop, Baby Cop. Ferrell and McKay co-produce the HBO series Eastbound & Down.[4]

McKay was one of the writers for the film The Campaign (2012), and produced the film Daddy's Home (2015), the latter of which re-united The Other Guys stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and was directed by Sean Anders. He wrote the screenplay for and directed The Big Short (2015), the film adaptation of Michael Lewis's book about the 2006–2010 financial crisis, and the build-up of the financial and credit bubble; the film starred Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Melissa Leo, Marisa Tomei, and Byron Mann. He rewrote the script for the Marvel Studios feature film Ant-Man, which Peyton Reed directed. McKay also worked with Reed, Paul Rudd, Gabriel Ferrari & Andrew Barrer on Ant-Man and the Wasp to flesh out the story.[5]

He produced the films Land of the Lost (2009), The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009), The Virginity Hit (2010), Casa de Mi Padre (2012), Bachelorette (2012), Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012), The Campaign (2012), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), Tammy (2014), Welcome to Me (2014), Get Hard (2015), Sleeping with Other People (2015), Daddy's Home (2015), and The Boss (2016).

In addition to Eastbound & Down, he has produced the TV series Big Lake, the miniseries The Spoils of Babylon, and The Chris Gethard Show.


McKay has directed, and co-written with Will Ferrell, the films Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Step Brothers (2008), The Other Guys (2010), and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013). He has directed an "alternate film" about Ron Burgundy that is considered a companion to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) entitled Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie (2004), which is made up mostly of alternative takes, deleted scenes, and scrapped sub-plots from the original film strung together with a narrative.

McKay directed and co-wrote with Ferrell the George W. Bush Broadway show You're Welcome America. He produced the horror-action film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.[6]

McKay directed the TV movie documentary Lifecasters (2013). He has directed a number of short films, including digital shorts for Saturday Night Live, and the short videos The Landlord and Good Cop, Baby Cop for Funny or Die that star his daughter Pearl. Among the other short films he has directed include The Procedure (2007) starring Will Ferrell, Willem Dafoe, and Andy Richter, Green Team (2008) starring Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and himself, and the K-Swiss commercial, Kenny Powers: The K-Swiss MFCEO (2011), starring Danny McBride as Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down, which he co-produces with Ferrell and has also directed an episode of ("Chapter 5", Season 1, Episode 5).

He directed and wrote the film adaptation of the Michael Lewis non-fiction book The Big Short, released in 2015. He received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work in the film, winning his first Academy Award following his victory in the latter category. In 2016, he and co-writer Charles Randolph received the USC Scripter Award.

In 2016, he became attached to the superhero film Irredeemable based on the comic of the same name by Mark Waid.[7]

McKay will work with Jennifer Lawrence for a biographical film titled Bad Blood which tells the story of entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes. It is in development and will be produced by Legendary Pictures and released by Universal Pictures.[8][9][10]


From November 2015 until October 2016, McKay hosted the science/comedy podcast Surprisingly Awesome with Adam Davidson, produced by Gimlet Media.[11]

Personal life[edit]

In 1996, he married director Shira Piven, who directed the 2014 feature film Welcome to Me starring Kristen Wiig. They have two children. His brother-in-law is actor Jeremy Piven.[12] McKay has an essential tremor,[13] a benign neurological disorder that sometimes causes shaking.

Mckay serves on the Creative Council of Represent.Us, a nonpartisan anti-corruption organization.[14] He is a supporter of the Democratic Party and endorsed Bernie Sanders for President of the United States in 2016.[15][16] He identifies as a Democratic Socialist.[17]



2002God Hates CartoonsYesRole: Uncle Gabby
2003Pushing TomYesRole: The Boss
2003Felicia and the Great QuebecYesRole: Big Dick Cash
2004Anchorman: The Legend of Ron BurgundyYesYesYesRole: Custodian
2004Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost MovieYesYesYesRole: Custodian
2006Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky BobbyYesYesYesYesRole: Terry Cheveaux
2008Step BrothersYesYesYesYesRole: Man without Glasses
2009Land of the LostYes
2009The Goods: Live Hard, Sell HardYes
2010The Other GuysYesYesYesYesRole: Dirty Mike
2010The Virginity HitYes
2011Casa de Mi PadreYes
2012Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar MovieYes
2012The Campaign[19]YesYesStory writer
2013Hansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersYes
2013Anchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesYesYesYes
2014The Yes Men Are RevoltingYes
2014Welcome to MeYes
2015Sleeping with Other PeopleYes
2015Get HardYesYesStory writer
2015The Big ShortYesYesShared with Charles Randolph
Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
USC Scripter Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Director
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated—Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
2015Daddy's HomeYes
2016The BossYes
2017Oh Lucy!Yes
2017The HouseYes
2017Daddy's Home 2Yes
2018Holmes and WatsonYesIn post-production
2018ViceYesYesYesIn post-production
2019BooksmartYesIn post-production


1995–2001Saturday Night LiveYesYesYes
2007Human GiantYesRole: Alan Harkett (voice)
Episode: "24 Hour Marathon"
2009–2013Eastbound & DownYesYes
2010Big LakeYes
2010–2011Funny or Die PresentsYesYesYes
2013LifecastersYesTelevision film
2013–2017Drunk HistoryYes
2014The Spoils of BabylonYesMiniseries
2014–2015Bad JudgeYes
2015A Deadly AdoptionYesTelevision film
2015–2017The Chris Gethard ShowYes
2017No ActivityYes
2017I'm SorryYes
2017I Love You, America with Sarah SilvermanYes
2018LA to VegasYes


2007The ProcedureYesYesYes
2007The LandlordYesYesYesYesRole: Friend
2007Good Cop, Baby CopYesYesYesYesRole: Policeman
2008Green TeamYesYesYesYesRole: Erin Gossamer
2008Paris Hilton Responds to McCain Ad YesYes
2008Ron Howard's Call to ActionYesYes
2008–2016Between Two Ferns with Zach GalifianakisYes
2010Presidential ReunionYes
2010Will Ferrell's NYPD Recruitment VideoYes
2011A Public Statement from Anthony Weiner's PenisYes
2014COPS: FergusonYes
2015Mexican Donald TrumpYes
2017The President's SunYes


  1. ^ "Men in Blue, Under Arrested Adolescence". The New York Times. 1 August 2010. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  2. ^ Maehrer, Avery (12 December 2013). "Anchorman director Adam McKay reflects on Philly past". The Temple News. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
  3. ^ "Will Ferrell and Pearl in The Landlord". Archived from the original on 2007-08-10. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
  4. ^ Hotz, Amy (2008-10-21). "". Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  5. ^ Perry, Spencer (April 12, 2016). "Peyton Reed: Ant-Man and the Wasp Will Feature Things 'Never Seen in a Movie Before'". ComingSoon. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  6. ^ "'Twilight' Stars Offered Roles in 'Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters',
  7. ^ Jr, Mike Fleming (5 May 2016). "20th Century Fox Taps BOOM! Superhero Tale 'Irredeemable'; Adam McKay Helms, Tommy Wirkola Scripting". Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  8. ^ Jr, Ali Jaafar,Mike Fleming (June 21, 2016). "'Bad Blood' Bids Mobilize for Jennifer Lawrence-Adam McKay Package: 9 Offers". Deadline. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  9. ^ "Elizabeth Holmes Movie to Star Jennifer Lawrence". 9 June 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  10. ^ Jr, Ali Jaafar,Mike Fleming (June 23, 2016). "Legendary Wins Jennifer Lawrence-Adam McKay 'Bad Blood' Auction". Deadline. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  11. ^ "New Podcast: Surprisingly Awesome". Gimlet Media. Gimlet Media. Archived from the original on 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  12. ^ "Shira Piven IMDB: Biography". Retrieved 2014-09-12.
  13. ^ Goodyear, Dana. "Hollywood Shadows". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2014-04-15.
  14. ^ "About | Represent. Us". Retrieved 2016-07-08.
  15. ^ "Will Ferrell Among Bernie Sanders Celeb Supporters". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  16. ^ "Artists for Bernie - Bernie Sanders". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  17. ^ Retrieved 2017-11-21. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ allenmck (6 September 2012). "Bachelorette (2012)". IMDb.
  19. ^ nama chakravorty (10 August 2012). "The Campaign (2012)". IMDb.

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