The 56-year-old actor and his best friend of 30 years opened up about their friendship during a recent interview with Variety, while promoting their new documentary, Will & Harper. The documentary, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival on 22 January, is centred on the two friends taking a road trip, after Steele told Ferrell that she was coming out as a transgender woman.
Speaking to Variety, Ferrell confessed that, before making the documentary, he had “zero knowledge” about the transgender community. He also specified that he didn’t have a close relationship with anyone who was transgender until Steele came out to him.
“I had met trans people, but I didn’t have anyone personally in my life,” he explained. “So this was all new territory for me, which is why I think this film is so exciting for us to kind of put out there in the world.”
The Barbie star went on to express why the new documentary is so meaningful to him, noting that it’s given him an opportunity to learn more about the transgender community.
“It’s a chance for all of us in the cis community to be able to ask questions and also just to listen and be there as a friend to discuss this journey,” he said.
Steele also shared another important plot of the documentary, explaining: “It tells the story of a cis friend of a trans person who has to transition himself.”
As the interview has been reshared on X, formerly known as Twitter, many people have praised Ferrell for acknowledging that he didn’t know a lot about the transgender community and being open to educating himself more about the topic.
“I love this because he’s showing it’s okay to admit ignorance if it comes with being willing to learn,” one wrote. “Did not have Will Farrell unexpected trans advocate on my bingo card but isn’t it nice to be pleasantly surprised for once too?”
“Love this so much. It’s beautiful when we can admit ignorance about something but be open and willing to learn. The cost of kindness is only an effort to educate ourselves and grow,” another wrote. “The cost of denying others’ authentic selves is willful ignorance, lost relationships, stored hatred.”
Did I have Will Ferrell being a babe of a trans ally on my 2024 bingo? No. But it’s great to be pleasantly surprised.
All the love to Harper and Will for using their story as a learning opportunity for likely millions of cis folk.
Can’t wait to see the film 💜🏳️⚧️ https://t.co/jfwqjXhOX3
— Toryn Caitriona Glavin (@torynglavin) January 22, 2024
I love this because he's showing it's ok to admit ignorance if it comes with being willing to learn. Did not have Will Farrell unexpected Trans advocate on my bingo card but isn't it nice to be pleasantly surprised for once too? https://t.co/hxNzS7PWl5
— Dr Emily Garside (@EmiGarside) January 23, 2024
“Something I love about what Will Ferrell is doing here is not just being an ally as best he knows how, but admitting that he didn’t have any knowledge and expressing a willingness and desire to learn as a friend,” a third wrote. “It’s nice to see a bit of good news rooted in kindness.”
Other people continued to applaud Ferrell for being an ally to the transgender community, and for supporting his close friend.
“Did I have Will Ferrell being a babe of a trans ally on my 2024 bingo? No. But it’s great to be pleasantly surprised,” one wrote. “All the love to Harper and Will for using their story as a learning opportunity for likely millions of cis folk.”
“This is how to be an empathetic, normal human… and a good friend,” another wrote about the interview.
While speaking to the Associated Press at Sundance on Monday, Ferrell and Steele also opened up about their hopes for the film and how their work could shape viewers’ perspectives.
“When we finally looked at [the movie], we thought: Could this be a guidebook?” the Elf star said. “Kind of a workbook just to show that two friends can talk about this hot-button issue, and kind of demystify the conversation or whatever.”