The funnyman pretended to be drunk as he volunteered to take part in a half-court shooting contest - and knocked the blonde dancer out with a close-range throw, but it was all for a scene in his new comedy Daddy's Home.

Footage of the half-time drama, which ended with Ferrell being escorted off the court by security guards, has since gone viral, leading to protests about the actor's behaviour.

He says, "People wanted me to be sued for my actions. They didn't realise it was a paid professional stuntwoman I hit in the face with a practice ball.

"It was incredible; we had six minutes to shoot that... and the crowd was amazing; they didn't know what was gonna happen. They were just were told I was gonna try to make a half-court shot."

Co-star Mark Wahlberg, who was sitting courtside when the cheerleader fell to the floor, adds, "Obviously people were shocked. A lot of people thought it was real, they thought it was a real ball."