Peter Farrelly There's Something About Mary Theres Something About Mary Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary. Credit: 20th Century Studios

If he were to make There’s Something About Mary today, Peter Farrelly would change one thing about the 1998 romantic comedy he co-directed with brother Bobby Farrelly.

Starring Cameron Diaz as Mary, the high school crush that Ben Stiller’s character Ted never got over, the movie was a hit, bringing in $369 million at the global box office according to Box Office Mojo. But in hindsight, Farrelly said there’s something he would change.

What Peter Farrelly Would Change in There’s Something About Mary

“What I would do differently, I would have had, the brother Warren, I would have used an actor with a intellectual disability instead of another actor,” Farrelly told SlashFilm.

“Even though, by the way, the actor in it was incredible, there’s too many actors out there with intellectual disabilities who don’t get those opportunities. I didn’t know that at the time. I didn’t realize that they were there, and I’ve learned a lot since then about that,” Farrelly said.

W. Earl Brown plays Warren, Mary’s intellectually disabled brother over whom she is very protective. Representatives for Brown, who is also known for roles in Scream and Deadwood, did not respond to MovieMaker‘s request for comment Thursday.

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Mostly, though, Farrelly said he believes filmmakers should be willing to take big swings with comedy and not hold back out of fear that jokes will be taken the wrong way.

“People are afraid, afraid to offend. Like stand-up comedians, they don’t want to go to college campuses, because they’re afraid. I think that’s why studios are afraid. I think it’s a similar thing. They get letters and they’re saying, ‘Oh, we can’t make that, we can’t do this,'” he added. “But you gotta remember, you’re always going to offend somebody, and if you don’t, it’s gonna be mush, you know? It really is. So you just have to say, if your heart’s in the right place, and the character’s heart’s in the right place, and you trust it, then you can defend it. And that’s how I feel.”

There’s Something About Mary follows Stiller as Ted, who still can’t forget about Mary years after their prom date was ruined by an embarrassing injury he sustained. Wishing to reconnect with her, he hires private investigator Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to find her — but then Healy decides he wants Mary for himself.

The Farrelly brothers also co-directed 2011’s Hall Pass starring Jason Sudeikis and Owen Wilson, 2003’s Stuck on You starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear, 2000’s Me, Myself & Irene starring Jim Carrey and Renée Zellweger, and 2005’s Fever Pitch starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.

On his own, Peter Farrelly directed the Best Picture winning 2018 drama Green Book starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, 1994’s Dumb and Dumber starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, 2022’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever starring Zac Efron, Bill Murray and Russell Crowe, and most recently, 2024’s Ricky Stanicky starring Efron and John Cena.

Asked about whether its harder to make comedies with big studios now as opposed to in the 1990s, Farrelly told The Hollywood Reporter, “not really.”

“The studio certainly wasn’t holding me back, and they didn’t say, ‘You should do this or that,'” he said of working with Amazon MGM Studios on Ricky Stanicky. “We cut a couple things I thought were maybe a little broader than this movie should have. But the thing I loved about it is, it’s an original idea. Nobody’s seen this movie. It’s its own thing, and then we just let it happen and not worry about pleasing everybody. That’s the key thing. I know some people are going to say, ‘You went too far here; you went too far there.’ But if you like the characters and you believe their hearts are in the right place, I think we’re fine.”

Main Image: Cameron Diaz in There’s Something About Mary. Credit: 20th Century Studios