Magazine article Newsweek

Newsmakers

Magazine article Newsweek

Newsmakers

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicki Gostin, Devin Gordon, David Gates

John C. Reilly

John C. Reilly costars in the Will Ferrell comedy "Talladega Nights." He spoke last week with NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.

You've been called this generation's Gene Hackman. How do you feel about that?

I have a lot of respect for Gene Hackman, but I think we're very different. I think it's when people aren't imaginative enough to find a new way to describe someone.

You were also in "Days of Thunder," so this is your second film about auto racing.

That movie could have used more of a sense of humor. That was the attempt to take NASCAR seriously, and "Talladega" is the attempt to ... I don't know, I guess when you start satirizing things it means they've kind of arrived.

Are you into NASCAR?

I can't say I'm a huge sports fan of any kind.

Do you get NASCAR's appeal?

I understand why people think it's exciting. As far as sitting in the hot sun for hours and hours--that part I don't get.

Did you get to drive?

We went to the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Charlotte. First you go as a passenger, and then they set you loose on your own 10 minutes later. The insurance company didn't really think too much of having any of the actors actually drive the race cars during shooting.

Were you scared?

Yeah! I was terrified.

Were you any good?

I was OK. I came in first among the actors, which everybody made a big deal out of. Like, "Oh, my God, you won!" But to me, it was like I was the most naive or stupidest one who put his foot down on the gas pedal.

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Was his instantly legendary Tour de France comback too miraculous? Floyd Landis tested positive for high testosterone levels after his climb through the Alps. At press time, Landis, 30, still hoped to be exonerated. But barring another miractle, he may be the first Tour champ to be stripped of his title. …

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