Instant Family is inspired by the real events from the life of writer/director Sean Anders and stars Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Octavia Spencer, Isabela Moner, Tig Notaro and Margo Martindale.
When Pete and Ellie decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child, but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl, they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hope of becoming a family.
We caught up with super comedian Tig Notaro and director Sean Anders to discuss bringing this story to the big screen. Check out our conversation after the jump.
The Knockturnal: How did you get involved with this project?
Tig Notaro: My agent called, and said that there was this movie, with all scenes with Octavia Spencer. I have had an interest in adoption myself. So there were a few different things that drew me to it, and I’m forever thankful that I did it.
The Knockturnal: You mentioned Octavia earlier. How was it working with her? You guys are a very funny Duo! What was that like?
Tig Notaro: It was a blast. I was really interested to work with her because she is a force. A little intimidated but when I showed up, I found out she is just a ridiculous person, and so we had endless belly laughs together, and I think we were able to bring that to the screen. And it’s a real connection that we have, which was fun to play off of.
The Knockturnal: In the movie, you do social work, what kind of preparation goes into that? Did you talk to any social workers?
Tig Notaro: Yeah, I mean I have a friend that I grew up with who does social work that I talked to. They also had a social worker on set. Yeah, and I think that Sean did a great job preparing people, and sharing his story. It’s based on the writer-director’s life, so yeah.
The Knockturnal: With that, I was talking to some of the other cast and I asked was there pressure having him there, because it is kind of his story, and you think oh my gosh, what if I did this wrong? Because you want to do him justice of course!
Tig Notaro: Yeah, I didn’t feel the pressure I felt more of the comfort of having him there, just I think he is great at what he does, and he guided us through the process really well.
The Knockturnal: On set, you guys got to work with some pretty wonderful kids. Kids are always very interesting to act with. Did you impart any wisdom onto them on set, or did you take anything away working with them?
Tig Notaro: I mean I don’t think I have anything that I could offer them. They seemed light-years beyond where I am in life. So I would say that I took acting lessons on them from afar. Yeah, I think they are really talented.
The Knockturnal: What was your favorite scene to film?
Tig Notaro: There’s so many, but I really love when everyone comes together for that photo in the courtroom.
The Knockturnal: Lastly, what do you hope people will take away when they watch the film?
Tig Notaro: I just really hope that people that truly have an interest, finally take that step to go check out the adoption process. If it’s right for them ya know, check it out! Yeah, make that step. I hope I’m gonna be one of those that ya know, brings some kids into my life down the road. I don’t know if my wife is quite ready for it yet, but fingers crossed!
The Knockturnal: Sean, this is your story! How did you know it was time, for you to just be like, “alright, I’ve reached this point in my career, I’m ready to tell my story!”.
Sean Anders: Yeah, that’s a hard question to answer. I had been telling a lot of people about my experience with foster care. And I noticed that people were always not only really engaged in the story, but they also just didn’t know anything about adopting out of foster care… And neither did I when I started, so I thought, it’s time to tell that story so that more people can have a better sense of what that truly is, of what that process truly is.
The Knockturnal: I mean, you’re at the helm, but how did you know that Mark was the right person to play a version of you.
Sean Anders: Well, he’s not really playing me exactly, I mean it really is a fictional tale that’s inspired by my story as well as the stories of a lot of other foster adopted families that I met with. But I knew that Mark would be great for it because I really wanted the dad in this story to be a guy’s guy, and not to be the sort of I don’t know, the type of person that people think would be okay with getting involved in foster care adoption, because I wasn’t that person. And I felt like Mark really conveyed that trepidation and fear but also he is the type of guy who as an actor can also pour himself into those of moments of being unhinged, or excited, or worried, so I knew he would be perfect for it.
The Knockturnal: Mark and Rose said they mirrored you and your wife a little bit, and they tried to mimic that love that you both have. Did she have a lot of input?
Sean Anders: Well I knew Mark obviously from the Daddy’s Home movies, so he and I had a rapport up to that, and one of the first things Rose did when she got on board was she took my wife out to dinner and picked her brain a little bit. And then I was able to bring my kids to the set where they were able to meet the kids in the movie so there was a lot of interaction from everyone.
The Knockturnal: Speaking of kids, you had three talented kids in the film. Kids are always so interesting. Were there any challenges, or did you learn anything, and how was that?
Sean Anders: I love working with kids, I really do. And I think part of the reason that I have been so fortunate is that I’m really careful about the kids that I cast. I make sure that I cast grounded kids with good parents who are gonna take good care of them and then I really try to as much as possible, make the job fun for the kids while they are on set, so that they are still having a childhood while they are there, and then that kind of makes it fun for me, and it makes it fun for the crew as well.
The Knockturnal: I was talking to some of the cast earlier and they all had different takes, but what was your hardest scene to film for you?
Sean Anders: Well, I would have to say there were two different scenes. The hardest scene just technically was there was sort of a crazy thing that happens at the dinner table at Christmas dinner that involves fire and potato chips, and just all kinds of madness. And that one, there was a lot of work putting that one together, so that was tricky. But I think the most difficult scene for me was the ending of the film where Lizzy was going through a really emotional situation. And there was so much you know, Isabella had to cry so much and Mark and Rose really had to get into that moment over and over again. And I was in tears for most of it, so that scene was pretty taxing, but it turned out beautiful.