×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Will Ferrell Closes USC Commencement Speech With ‘I Will Always Love You’

Will Ferrell delivered the 134th commencement speech for 2017’s class of graduates at his alma mater, the University of Southern California, on Friday, ending the speech with a rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”

Ferrell, who graduated in 1990, was also awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters at the ceremony. He kept his speech light-hearted and self-deprecating, acknowledging the parents who, he said, were probably wondering, “Will Ferrell? Why Will Ferrell? I hate Will Ferrell.”

He went on to compare his own achievements, which include “running naked through the city of Montrose in ‘Old School,’ running around in underwear and racing helmet, thinking I’m on fire, in ‘Talladega Nights,’ running around in elf tights eating gum off the ground, and playing cowbell,” to the achievements of the other ceremony’s recipients of honorary doctorates, such as an HIV researcher, an orthopaedic spinal surgeon, a legislator, and Dame Helen Mirren.

Ferrell told the students of the day he earned his degree in Sports Information. “A degree so arduous, they discontinued the program eight years after I left,” he said. “We’re like the Navy SEALs of USC graduates.”

He shared how he had barged in on classes taught by a Professor Ron Gottesman, whose enthusiasm for his impersonation of a janitor encouraged him to pursue comedy as a career. After joining comedy troupe the Groundlings, he went on to be cast in “Saturday Night Live,” which provided him with a jumping off point for the rest of his career.

Throughout, Ferrell emphasized the importance of achieving what he considers true success — kindness and empathy toward others. He advised students not to worry if they didn’t have it all figured out, and to “keep throwing darts at the dartboard,” as he did.

Ferrell capped the speech with a not-too-shabby rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” telling graduates to think of him singing it softly into their ear if they ever felt down in their upcoming careers.

Ferrell will star in upcoming film “The House” alongside Amy Poehler, as a couple who lose their children’s college fund and set up casino in their home to make up the funds. The film premieres June 30.

See Ferrell’s full speech above (which begins at the one hour, 28 minute mark).

More Biz

  • CAA HQ LA

    Ex-Agent Stuart Manashil Ordered to Repay CAA in Fraud Case

    Former literary agent Stuart Manashil was ordered on Thursday to repay a $23,975 commission to CAA, which he admitted he had illegally diverted to a friend. Manashil, who now runs his own management company, pleaded guilty in March 2018 to a federal wire fraud charge. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, Manashil [...]

  • "The Continent," directed by Chinese racer

    Alibaba Pictures Buys Into Chinese Director Han Han's Film Studio

    Alibaba Pictures confirmed that it has invested an undisclosed amount in Chinese celebrity blogger-turned-film director Han Han’s Shanghai Tingdong Film. Han’s upcoming “Pegasus” is one of the most anticipated films of the year in China. Alibaba Pictures, part of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is now the second-largest stakeholder in Tingdong. It has a 13.1% stake, according to Chinese [...]

  • Phil McIntyre Steps Down as Roc

    Phil McIntyre Steps Down From Roc Nation Management, but Remains Affiliated With Company

    Phil McIntyre has stepped down as president of Roc Nation Management, but his PhilyMack management company remains affiliated with Roc, a source close to the situation tells Variety. PhilyMack, which McIntyre founded in 2006, partnered with Roc Nation in 2015. The source stressed that McIntyre’s role at Roc Nation Management  — whose clients include Rihanna, [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial

    Ben Brafman Drops Out of Harvey Weinstein Rape Case

    Harvey Weinstein has officially parted ways with defense attorney Ben Brafman, releasing a joint statement Thursday announcing the move. Weinstein had clashed with his defense attorney over strategy in his rape and sexual assault case. The pair issued a statement saying their parting was amicable, and that Brafman would cooperate fully with Weinstein’s new attorneys. [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Turns in Record Q4 Subscriber Gain, Price Increase Weighs on U.S. Forecast

    Netflix is beating Wall Street expectations for international subscriber growth — but its recently announced price increase in the U.S. may have put a damper on its momentum in the States. For the fourth quarter of 2018, Netflix reported 1.53 million paid net adds in the U.S. and 7.31 million internationally, to end the year [...]

  • Heather Parry Live Nation

    Live Nation Investigation of Heather Parry Also Targets Leakers (EXCLUSIVE)

    Over the past two weeks, the law firm of Paul Hastings LLP has been probing allegations reported by Variety last month that Heather Parry, the head of Live Nation Productions, had verbally abused employees and used offensive language in the workplace. But the lead investigator, Elena Baca, seems to be just as interested in uncovering [...]

  • Leslie Moonves

    Leslie Moonves to Pursue Arbitration for His $120 Million Severance From CBS

    Former CBS Corp. chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves will pursue an arbitration claim to fight CBS for the $120 million severance that he was denied last month when the company’s board of directors determined he was fired for cause. Moonves was ousted in September after multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the longtime [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content