What can compete with an Ashton Kutcher appearance in Iowa City?
Comedian and movie star Will Ferrell shows up at a downtown bar on a random Wednesday.
Deadwood was the place, and it was buzzing when Ferrell arrived in a vintage wood-paneled station wagon — Twitter photos appeared to show a well-preserved, old-school Jeep Wagoneer — with a producer and film crew in tow.
Bar manager Carlos Amaya said the production team had called the day before and told him they were filming a road trip documentary and that the producer used to visit the bar and wanted to use it as a setting.
He was not aware of the name of the manufacturer. But Andrew Steele, a frequent production partner of Ferrell and a “Saturday Night Live” writer during Ferrell’s years on the show, is an Iowa City native. Another Steele, Harper, appeared at her alma mater, Iowa City High, with Ferrell earlier in the day, according to a Facebook post from the school district.
More:Andrew Steele pays tribute to Kirk Walther, whose passion made Record Collector legendary beyond Iowa City
Amaya said Ferrell, the star of cult comedies “Anchorman” and “Elf,” spent a few hours playing pool and drinking a few beers while being filmed. He didn’t interact with patrons, Amaya said, but he drew a large crowd.
“At one point we had a full bar,” he said.
Taber Squibb, a recent University of Iowa graduate and an employee of The Deadwood, was still there more than an hour after Ferrell’s departure, even though she was off the clock.
“I thought it was great,” Squibb said with a wide grin on her face.
She said she had been sitting in a booth when the “Step Brothers” actor entered and went over to the pool room. She described him as “personal”, although she did not get to speak to him.
She knew he would come because of her employment at The Deadwood, and she brought roommate Samantha Farr with her.
Farr, also a student, skipped class to see Ferrell. She said she told her professors about his expected appearance and they encouraged her to meet him.
Ferrell sightings were also reported Sunday and Monday in Indianapolis and Tuesday in Pekin and Peoria, Illinois. Amaya said he wasn’t sure, but he thought Ferrell’s next stop might be Nebraska.
The Indianapolis Star reported that Ferrell filmed in the parking lot of a Walmart in Beech Grove, a suburb of Indianapolis, and then appeared at an Indiana Pacers game, where rapper 50 Cent, a regular presence at the NBA team’s home court, greeted him .
The Peoria JournalStar reported that Ferrell visited Maquet’s Rail House in Pekin, then another bar, The Basket Case, in Peoria, where a customer reported him singing karaoke.
This isn’t the first time Ferrell has filmed in Iowa. In 2011, the comedian filmed four commercials for Old Milwaukee beer in Davenport.
The “Talladega Nights” star sat on a log and fished in the Mississippi River in an ad. In another, the actor goes “hand fishing” in Mississippi. “Haven’t caught any catfish yet, but I caught this piece of America – Old Milwaukee.”
In the third ad, which ran only in the Quad Cities, he wears a blue T-shirt that says Iowa and uses the letters of Davenport to describe why he loves Old Milwaukee.
In a fourth ad, Ferrell drinks Old Milwaukee at a bar called Cedar.
Did you see Will Ferrell in Iowa City? We would love to see your photos and hear about your meeting. Write to us at PBarraza@press-citizen.com.