Called “the funniest man in the world,” by Jay Leno, Fred Willard has been delighting audiences as a gifted comedic actor for years. He got his start performing in a comedy duo, spent a year at Chicago’s famed Second City and was a founding member of the improvisational comedy group Ace Trucking Company. Willard has had a cameo in every Christopher Guest film. His quick wit and improvisational skills has made him a regular on the The Tonight Show, with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. Recently fans have seen him in Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy and American Wedding. Willard was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role on Everybody Loves Raymond in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Even though he’s busy making people laugh, Willard finds time to play with his cat Mittenz. “My wife named him Mittens, thinking it was a female cat, but it was a male cat, so we left it as Mittenz with a Z at the end.”
Although Fred Willard was in the film Best in Show, his actual interaction with the dogs was nil. “Although my partner and I were looking at dogs, it was all pre-taped. We were looking at an empty arena, so I never had any interplay with the dogs.” He goes on to say, “For most of my life I’ve lived in apartments, but I would love to live on a huge farm with hundreds of dogs. I’d go to the pound and rescue dogs everyday and have a farm filled with dogs and a lot of animals.”
Willard even uses animals at times for his inspiration for acting, “Animals, they have a very naive, pure quality. They don’t over-think things and have no hidden agenda. I play a lot of characters like that. I kind of like that attitude, not too thoughtful, you don’t know what’s going on. They inspire me.”
Willard is involved in many charities for dogs. He recently attended the Paws festival to help AIDS patients care for their dogs. His wife, Mary, is also very involved with Actors and Others for Animals, a non-profit organization promoting the humane treatment of animals. Willard has even co-hosted an event with Pamela Anderson for PETA!
You can currently catch Willard heading a sketch comedy workshop called The MoHo Group, which he has been creatively producing original skits since 1994. He also writes an entertaining monthly column for Stuff Magazine, and has been cast as a sportscaster in the television series Back to You, scheduled to run during the fall this year. Obviously Fred Willard has a very active personal and professional life. Maybe this is the inspirational base from which he draws his funny material that he kindly shares with all of us!
For more information visit: fredwillard.com.