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Interview: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and Linda Cardellini

Dec 22, 2015

By: Lynn Barker

In Daddy’s Home, even-tempered, loving radio executive Brad (Will Ferrell), struggles to become a good stepfather to his wife's (Linda Cardellini) two children, but when their freewheeling and freeloading dad Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) shows up, the kids think he’s cool, making Brad have to compete for their affection. Many times Will stars in films not really for kids (except Elf) and Mark, well the Ted films are R-rated. This time it’s all family-friendly with Linda Cardellini who played Velma in the Scooby Doo movies as the wife. Check out the interview.

A family attempt at bondingA family attempt at bonding Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: Did you two guys have to flip a coin to figure out who was gonna play which role? 

  • Will: We arm-wrestled and I beat Mark, like, nine outta ten times.  And even though Mark looks so physically fit, he's super weak. I think you have Epstein-Barr, right?  You're super tired, too.  Yeah.  So he'd fall asleep while I arm wrestled him and I thought "Oh, that's perfect for Brad." 

Q: Yeah, sure. Linda, considering that these guys have worked together and they already had a rhythm, how was it trying to fit into this film? 

  • Linda: 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 is just sort of a no-brainer. And they're great. Everything you want them to be and more.

Mark and Will in The Other GuysMark and Will in The Other GuysCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Will and Mark, how was this different from making The Other Guys? (a 2010, PG-13 movie in which the guys played bored, desk-bound cops).  I mean, clearly you guys had established a pretty good comic rapport in that.

  • Will: Well, I think it was a nice change of pace 'cause it was fun to approach this while hopefully being just as funny. It was nice to get back into a family movie; something that explored this idea of the blended family, which is becoming more and more common. And it was 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 kinda have a second film together.
  • Mark: Yeah, we just kinda picked up right where we left off, you know?  Having not done comedy before working with Will, he always made me feel very comfortable and he creates a very safe environment so you can risk looking ridiculous and know that you'll still be protected.  And he was always encouraging me to try things and open up. I think he regrets that now. He hasn't been able to stop me but it’s great.

An outing with the dadsAn outing with the dadsCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: Mark, talk about how you made your character Dusty more likeable rather than a jerk.

  • Mark. When I originally read it, I was like, "Okay, I could just play this guy like a prick."  You know, take the obvious choice.  But then Sean (the director) was like, "Well, we want him to be much more interesting than that."  And you want Dusty to also be likeable. And there is a great (character) arc there.  We wanted to make him more interesting and more well-rounded. The two dads really learn a lot from each other.  And then they're finally able to become mature enough to put their own differences aside and do the right thing for the children. 

Q: The film is full of funny one-liners. How much is in the script and how much is you guys doing improv?

  • Will: It starts with a read through where we we're able to get as much of the cast as we could just to hear it out loud.  And then you sit down.  You rehearse the scenes and between the scripted scene and then ideas we had on the day, we always had a whole kind of slew of alternate lines that we throw out.  And so between all of those steps you know, you kinda have a buncha different choices in the edit room to where you can dial a scene up or down.

Am I cool or what?Am I cool or what?Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: Both of you can be pretty raunchy guys. So how do you deal as dads in real life with your children and is it "Do as I say and not as I do”?

  • Mark: I try to lead by example with my children. My job does at times entail me doing some things that would be deemed inappropriate for children.  That's just part of my job.  But I am a devout Catholic, committed husband and father.  Will is the raunchy (one).    He's a nasty, nasty man. 

Q: Ooookay. With so many Holiday movies being made, how do you avoid the clichés in most of them to make yours original?

  • Will: When Brian (the writer) came to pitch this story to us, it really resonated with us.  Because I think it's for the first time you get to tell the story of the stepdad.  And he's not evil.  And he's you know, it's not kind of the grim fairy tale story. This is also a stepparent who's really in earnest tryin' to do the best job he can and he comes up against the feelings of insecurity when the real dad shows up in the picture and kinda reverses all the good work he's done.

Daddy’s Home Trailer


Q: Why make it a Christmas comedy? Why release it now?

  • Will: When we started testing the movie and we saw that it was really such an endearing, charming film, Paramount looked at the schedule and thought, "Boy, this could be this could be great counter-programming to what's out there."  It seemed like a big opening for a nice family comedy to be around the holidays.  So Star Wars is scared s**tless of us.  Yeah.

Q: Could you tell us about the kids in the movie? They're just as funny as you guys.                                                                                              

  • Linda: They're great.  The kids are so sweet, and so talented, and so much fun to be around.  And they loved these guys.
  • Mark: I made sure they didn’t love Will that much.
  • Will: They really took their time in casting those kids. It’s tough to  not find precocious comedy kids. Through no fault of their own, (some kids) have been coached to act a certain way.  And to find kids that were honest, and believable, and sweet (was great).

Will and Linda play a coupleWill and Linda play a coupleCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: Is the movie also about forgiveness and redemption?

  • Will: Yeah. I think it's also trying to make the best out of an uncomfortable situation for the benefit of the family and the kids and learning to work together. We spend a good part of the movie acting so childish and then we finally decide to be adults and do the right thing.  And I think that's a big message part of the movie. 

Q: Will did you normally think of Mark as a funny actor?

  • Will: Adam McKay and I have been fans of Mark's dramatic work for a very long time.  And we noticed that, in some of the movies, he was also just very funny. And we just toyed around with the idea of, "Gosh, could that be applied to a commercial comedy?  Would Mark even be interested in that?"  We've 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 he was on board.

Q: Did you practice your dance moves, Mark, for the finale?  I mean, we hadn't seen you dance in a long time.

  • Mark: As far as the dancing stuff (at a dad/daughter dance), I was absolutely dreading it. Sean continued to ask me "You workin' on your moves?"  Like,  "Yeah, I'm workin' on my moves."  And I wasn't.  Then I said, "I might need a choreographer," and he'd come to the trailer and, like, "Hey, let's work on your moves." I waited basically until the last second. 
  • Everyone’s like “Okay, bust a move!” Will jumped right in there and he made everybody else feel comfortable. It’s 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.  So yeah.

Hey, he's a pretty hot dad!Hey, he's a pretty hot dad!Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: Did you ever go to a dad/daughter dance in real life? If so, what song would you want to dance to?

  • Mark: I've been to many daddy-daughter dances.  Actually last year was the first time that I went with both my daughters.  And you really just hope they're gonna dance with you at all.  So whatever song is okay. My now 12-year-old, she's running around with her friends. I got quite a few dances last year. Preferably something a little slower.
  • Will: Anything from the soundtrack of  Booty Call.

Q:  Yeah, sure. Mark and Will, do you ever find yourself vying for your kids' attention? Do they pay more attention to your wives?

  • Mark: Oh, all the time until they start acting up.  And then I say to her, "Take over."    
  • Will: Yeah, I'm still tryin'. My five-year-old won't let me read bedtime stories to him.  He's still very mommy-focused.  And I pretend to fake cry.  I get my feelings hurt.  And he just laughs and goes, "Maybe tomorrow night." I mean, you know, they love daddy, but they love mommy a little more. 

The dads discuss bedtime ritualsThe dads discuss bedtime ritualsCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q:  Did you guys actually perform stunts in the movie?

  • Mark: That was really Will on the wall. 
  • Will: I really threw that basketball off that cheerleader's face.   That's technically a stunt.
  • Mark: And they wanted me to ride on the back of a motorcycle with Will.  And he didn't know how to ride.  So I was like, "Absolutely not.   Bring in the tow rig”.

Will on the motorcycleWill on the motorcycleCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: What are everyone’s plans for the holidays this year?

  • Mark: Just the usual.  You know, my kids'll get a buncha gifts.  And I'll have to clean up all the wrapping paper.  And then they'll probably only focus on, like, one thing.  So and then we'll have we'll have a nice meal.
  • Will: I kinda take every other year off with giving gifts to my kids.  So last year was an off year.  They didn't get any presents.   So this year, they're super excited.  Makes 'em want it a little bit more. (he’s so kidding).
  • Linda: I've got an almost four-year-old.  So I'm really into what Santa's bringing.  So I'll be very involved with Santa.

Q: Can one of you talk about the carpool lane dropping off kids at school if you do that?

  • Will: I avoid the carpool lane but I have to time it to where I leave early enough to find a meter to park. At our school, there is a buncha parents who got together to put a video together to kinda point out the bad parent behavior. We’ve had people on their laptops as they pull up for drop-off.  We've had someone just hop the curb and knock the fire hydrant over. Just crazy, incessant behavior.

Q: Linda, if there is a sequel would you do more physical comedy?

  • Linda:  it depends on the story. Here's the woman in the in the story and she's not the insecure one. I love that. She's not the one riddled with anxiety.  You know, she's got her head on straight.  Dusty's not fooling her anymore at all.  And so I loved that about her.  So if there was a different circumstance where it plays into it in a real way, then, sure, that'd be fun.  But who knows what happens?

Daddy’s Home is in theaters now!  


Daddy's Home PosterDaddy's Home PosterCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Have Your Say

Do you think Will Ferrell is hilarious? Do you go to films with your whole family especially during holidays? Lay down a comment below!