Jimmy Fallon introduced his guest Will Ferrell on Wednesday's Tonight Show, and — in either a carefully orchestrated prank or counterintuitive publicity stunt — Ryan Reynolds came out on stage. Meanwhile, 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel had a similar experience, welcoming a pajamaed Ferrell after introducing Reynolds. Both actors are promoting new movies, but they did not directly promote their own films Wednesday night.
"I just put the kids to bed, I was walking the dog around the block, Will called, said he was running a little late, asked me if I'd jump in for him, and I said, 'Anything for you, Will,'" Reynolds explained to Fallon after sitting down. Fallon noted he had prepared questions for Ferrell, and Reynolds told him to fire away.
"Look, I made a solemn swear on the life of my children that I would deliver this for him, 20 minutes ago, and I'm going to do it, I'm going to talk The Shrink Next Door," Reynolds said. Fallon pointed out that his own movie is also coming out this weekend, and Reynolds stopped him right there. "No, we're not talking about Red Notice while I'm here. If you bring up Red Notice, you will taste the back of my hand." He then described The Shrink Next Door as an "Ant-Man-adjacent" Marvel film (it's not), and seemed as surprised as anyone at the trailer.
In Los Angeles, Kimmel appeared equally surprised at the last-minute switch, and Ferrell was equally committed to promoting the movie he was not in. "I'm just excited for Red Notice!" he said. "Oh, are you in Red Notice?" Kimmel asked. "I am not," Ferrell replied. "I haven't seen a stitch of it." Kimmel had, so after Ferrell fumbled around for the plot, Kimmel set up the clip. And after that, he made Ferrell pay for the substitution, starting with some of the questions he would have asked Reynolds then just messing with his purportedly unexpected guest.
Perhaps it's clever gonzo marketing, perhaps Ferrell and Reynolds just didn't want to fly across the country for a late-night interview. But at least it was something new.