In Sean Anders’ comedy hit Daddy’s Home, Will Ferrell plays Brad, a middle-aged man who is very much in love with his wife (Linda Cardellini) and with the notion of being a responsible family man. He has everything - a good job, a house, a van for the family-, however there’s a small problem: he is not the biological father of his wife’s two kids and, though he tries really hard, the children don’t really care for him (there’s a reason why he appears death or injured in every drawing the daughter makes).
Another problem is the fact that the biological dad Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) returns and becomes the uncomfortable guest of the house; aside of being a suave, handsome dude who is admired by his kids, he also knows how to be manipulative in order to make Brad feel jealous and insecure.
“When we were developing the script, the central dramatic question that emerged was: if you are a stepfather trying to gain the love of your kids, what would happen is someone like Indiana Jones appeared as the biological dad?”, said director Anders about the genesis of the film, while it was being shoot in New Orleans back in early 2015.
From that peculiar question, Anders began looking for the perfect actors to play both the charming and the badass dad. “Will is really good at what he does and has a big background of comedies, but I actually never realized about the number of comedies in which Mark appears; even films that are not strict comedies, like Boogie Nights, have hilarious stuff. Will is a kind, friendly guy, while Mark is quite simply the coolest guy in the universe, so each one of them brought their real personalities to the film”, revealed Anders.
The growing confrontation between these two characters is certainly the basis for this decent comedy. “We come from different worlds, Will is a genuinely sweet guy, my old self probably would have been a dick to him. And that’s the thing about the movie; on the page, Dusty could have been just a dick to him but the moment we thought about Dusty being sweet to Brad it was much more interesting. He genuinely likes Brad but he is uncomfortable that some else is assuming that role, so he starts this competition in which he is going to win his family back”, said Wahlberg about his role.
Daddy’s Home wasn’t the first movie with both Wahlberg and Ferrell as protagonists, as the buddy cop flick The Other Guys was released way back in 2010. “We’re a good pairing because we are opposites. But I think we both approach it the same way, whenever we improvise is in the context of the scenes; it’s about the attention to the character rather than trying to think about the funny line”, commented Ferrell.
Talking about improvisation, I had the chance to visit the set of Daddy’s Home at New Orleans’ Aquarium of the Aeries, where the cast and crew spent several hours filming a scene in which Brad tried to teach a group of kids, including his stepsons, stuff related to the sea animals and the work opportunities in marine biology; however, the kids seemed way more interested in videogames. This was the mere scenario for adding another moment of conflict between Brad and Dusty, as the latter made a point that kids could actually do something big out of playing videogames with real commitment, pointing out that PewDiePie was making millions by commenting videogames on YouTube.
While in the final cut this scene was drastically reduced to mere seconds as part of a montage (which just worked in benefit of Ferrell’s character), it was a great way of realizing about the amount of improvisation that was going on in the set, as the cast and the director changed lines, added jokes (there was one involving Steve Irwin) and even visual gags (i.e. Ferrell imitating the manta rays).
“We get to improvise a lot, the script is very well written so we always shoot what’s on the page and then play around. There’s fearlessness when you’re actually doing it, you’re not worried about looking cool or ridiculous, you just let it go, trusting who you are working with”, said Wahlberg.
A sequel of Daddy’s Home is already confirmed, and it should continue the epilogue where Dusty gets married and becomes the stepfather of a little girl, as John Cena appears as the new badass biological father. Dusty will probably try to become the exemplar dad and Wahlberg has some insight for his character: “It’s funny because at the beginning of the movie we are talking about Dusty not being able to be in home, and that’s still kind of what I do. I work and travel a lot, but I go home every chance I get or my kids are able to come with me, and if I’m not working I’m at home. For me being a good dad is just being involved in every aspect of their lives”, concluded Wahlberg.
Daddy's Home is now available on Blu-ray/DVD in Mexico.