On Christmas day, Paramount is releasing the family comedy Daddy’s Home, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and directed by Sean Anders. The plot concerns Brad, Sarah’s new husband and the new step-dad to her two kids: Megan and Dylan. He is a buttoned-up, sensitive, caring man. When Dusty, the biological father shows up, tensions mount. He is a reckless, dangerous badass, set up to counter Brad’s milquetoast sensitivity. Soon, it becomes a battle between dads for the love of the kids and Sarah.
There was a recent promotional Q+A session for the film held at the Mandarin hotel at Columbus Circle. Screenwriters John Morris and Brian Burns, actors Linda Cardellini, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, and Hannibal Burress, as well as director Sean Anders, were in attendance.
Several of those involved spoke of a personal connection to the material. The film was apparently inspired by a real life situation screenwriter Brian Burns was in. “So yeah, my wife and I, when we got married, I inherited two really terrific step-kids. And then I also inherited a real dad who was– I came to discover how terrific he was. But not so much in the beginning. So that was really the beginning of the idea of the movie.” Burns said. Director Sean Anders also had a personal interest in the film’s subject matter. He said, “My wife and I adopted our kids from the foster care system. So I’m not a stepfather. And I don’t have a stepfather in my life. But from the time that we got our kids, we always talked about, ‘Well– you know, someday, it’s very likely that our kids are gonna reunite with their birth parents. And we’re going to have to kinda make that adjustment of sharing our kids with the parents.’ You know, with the birth parents. And so when the script came to me the second time, we were much more kind of entrenched in that whole thing. So it spoke to me from that level. And I just thought there’s so much comedy in the insecurity of that.”
Will Ferrell discussed how he became involved in the project and what it was like to work with Mark Wahlberg for the second time. Ferrell said “It was a nice change of pace ’cause it was […] nice to kinda get back into kind of a family movie. Something that– explored this idea of the blended family, which is becoming more and more—common […]. And the fact that we could be funny but also have kind of a nice message with it, too. So this was a nice segue for us to have a second film together.” Wahlberg followed that up by saying, “Yeah, we just kinda picked up right where we left off, you know? It was great. ‘Cause having not done comedy before working with Will, he always made me feel very comfortable and creates a very safe environment so you can risk looking ridiculous and know that you’ll still be protected.”
Linda Cardellini reportedly enjoyed the on set dynamic, saying, “It was great for me. I mean, who wouldn’t wanna be in the middle of these two? And I was a fan from watching them together in The Other Guys. And just the idea of being in the middle of that chemistry and getting to be the object of affection in the middle of that is just sort of a no-brainer.”
When asked what drew him and Adam McKay to Mark Wahlberg for his first comedic role in The Other Guys, Ferrell said, “Adam McKay and I had been fans of Mark’s dramatic work for a very long time. And we noticed in some of the movies, he was also just very funny being so incredibly earnest and committed to his characters. And we just toyed around. You know, Adam came up with the premise of The Other Guys.” But we toyed around with the idea of, ‘Gosh, could that be applied to a commercial comedy? Would Mark even be interested in that?’ And we’ve had some success in some of the other films we’ve done where we’ve kind of plucked more dramatic actors, and thrown them in kind of comedic circumstances, and it’s worked great. And we just sat down with Mark and pitched him the idea. And luckily for us, he was on board right from the beginning.”
One of Wahlberg’s most memorable scenes in Daddy’s Home is the climactic dance-off at the Daddy-Daughter Dance. “As far as the dancing stuff, I was absolutely dreading it. And Sean continued to ask me, ‘You workin’ on your moves?’ Like, ‘Yeah, I’m workin’ on my moves.’ And I wasn’t. […] And I waited basically until the last second. And you know, ’cause it’s 7:00 in the morning. There is, you know, a crew of a couple hundred people and then a couple hundred extras. And, you know, they’re like, ‘All right. Bust a move.’ I’m like, ‘Oh God.’ […] So my least favorite thing to do next to singing. And, of course, I had to do both in the movie. But people seem to love those moments.”
Several members of the panel were asked what made for a classic comedy. Screenwriter John Morris had this to say: “For me, it’s if there’s things that are quotable. Like I say to my friends. LikeI repeat these lines over and over again. And in this, the guys improv-ed a bunch. We wrote some stuff, but they improv-ed a buncha stuff that’s hilarious and we’ll quote forever.”
Hannibal Buress plays the picture’s funniest side character, Griff. When asked how he got involved with the project, the typically funny Buress quipped, “I got involved initially ’cause I think Craig Robinson wasn’t available. And you know, you always gotta have a backup plan. And I was ready and waitin’. And so they hit me up. And I was excited to do it. It was very fun.”
Ferrell had some playful trash talk for a certain box office competitor. When asked why people should see his film on Christmas, he said, “Star Wars is scared shitless.”