Will Ferrell is undoubtedly one of the best actors and comedians in the business. He’s been part of so many timeless movies and skits, with most of them making me laugh really hard.
He has quite an interesting relationship with drumming and music, with a few of his skits and movies involving drums.
While he’s been seen playing drums in those, can he actually play drums in real life? Here’s a breakdown of all of Will Ferrell’s drum-related ventures.
Can Will Ferrell Play The Drums?
Despite his iconic cowbell skit, Will Ferrell cannot actually play the drums.
While he may manage a basic beat, his drum scenes in various films and the famous drum-off with Chad Smith are not genuine drumming; they’re convincingly staged for non-drummers, and real drummers can spot the difference.
Nonetheless, his cowbell SNL skit remains a memorable part of his career, hinting that more drum-related scenes could be in his future.
Saturday Night Live
One of the first and most memorable skits where Will Ferrell showed some rhythmic ability was in the Saturday Night Live skit where the Blue Oyster Cult was recording Don’t Fear the Reaper.
The skit involves Christopher Walken working as the studio producer, and Will Ferrell is the one member of the band that simply plays the cowbell. The ongoing joke is that the cowbell sound and Will Ferrell’s actions are really distracting to the band, while Christopher Walken keeps asking for more.
A generation of Internet memes was born from this, with thousands of people making the joke about needing more cowbell in every drum video they watched.
While Will Ferrell didn’t play drums in this skit, I thought he kept time on the cowbell surprisingly well. He was playing solid quarter notes amongst the music and nervousness of the live show situation.
The next movie to mention that had Will Ferrell playing drums was Step Brothers. It was actually John C. Reilly as Dale that had the role of being a drummer, but Will Ferrell plays his drums out of spite in the one scene.
He kind of just bashes around here, so I wouldn’t say that he was actually playing the drums. However, it’s good to mention this scene here, as it further adds to Will Ferrell’s relationship with the drums over the years!
Red Hot Chili Peppers
One of the biggest reasons why many people think that Will Ferrell can play the drums is that he has an uncanny resemblance to Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
This has been another ongoing joke for many years, with many people saying that the two look the same on social media and Internet forums.
I remember it getting so bad at one point that Chad Smith lost his cool at someone in the crowd when they mentioned it at a workshop he was hosting.
However, Chad Smith and Will Ferrell became friends, and the two of them met a few times over the years.
Chad Smith is one of the best rock drummers to ever live. While he looks a bit like Will Ferrell, he’s definitely not him!
Will Ferrell and Chad Smith Drum Off
After many years of the Internet joking about Chad Smith and Will Ferrell’s appearances, they eventually came together on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to do a big drum-off.
The drum-off involved each of them playing four short solos while trying to outdo each other.
I loved this whole idea when it first went live, and I’ve watched it plenty of times since.
However, the whole thing is purely for entertainment, and Will Ferrell isn’t actually playing drums in any of his solos.
His mimicking the actions around the drum kit, and the drum sounds are most likely coming from Questlove off-screen. Otherwise, they were pre-recorded to play at the same time that he did all those actions.
Can Will Ferrell Play the Drums?
So, can Will Ferrell actually play the drums? The answer is no. In all the drum-related scenes he’s in, he’s never actually playing the drums properly.
I’d assume that he can play a basic beat or two, but he’s not an actual drummer. The whole thing with him and Chad Smith is what makes people think he can play, and it looked very convincing to non-drummers when he did that drum-off with him.
The cameramen did a great job of making it look like he could play, but any drummer watching would see that he’s not actually playing anything.
I’m sure Will Ferrell will be in plenty more drum-related scenes in the future, as that original cowbell SNL skit has stuck with him ever since it came out. It’s such an iconic part of Will Ferrell’s career.
Which Other Actors Can Play Drums?
While Will Ferrell can’t play the drums, there are plenty of other big actors that can. As a bit of a fun side note, here are five actors that can play the drums very well.
Most of them have actually been involved with Will Ferrell in different projects.
John Stamos is undoubtedly one of the best drummers I know who is a hugely successful actor. He was one of the main cast members of Full House, and he’s had a packed film career since then.
He’s a multi-instrumentalist too, playing drums and guitar. He regularly plays drums with The Beach Boys, which I think is seriously impressive for someone with a big acting career.
Dana Carvey falls under the same umbrella as Will Ferrell. He started out as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, and he went on to star in several movies and other projects.
He played the role of a drummer in Wayne’s World, which was a spin-off of a popular skit on SNL. A lot of his drumming in the movie was faked, but Carvey is a fairly talented musician himself.
Fred Armisen is another celebrity who loves the drums. He’s also another one to come from Saturday Night Live.
One of my favorite things that Fred Armisen has done is release a full comedy special that was only intended for drummers.
The whole show was just him making jokes that drummers and musicians would understand. Also, his drumming skills are decent!
Miles Teller starred as the main character in Whiplash, which has become one of the most popular drum-related movies ever.
While his character was a jazz drummer in the movie, Miles Teller was actually a self-taught drummer before he filmed the role.
His drumming abilities are nowhere near as good as how the character played drums, but I was still quite impressed when I saw clips of him playing!