Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s latest comedy Daddy’s Home features a number of outrageous scenarios, including some big physical stunts, but the dad vs. stepdad story originated from the personal experience of writer Brian Burns.
“I was involved in this relationship with my stepkids‘ real dad and we were just such total polar opposites, so I thought that was a really funny set-up for a family comedy,” Burns told The Hollywood Reporter at Sunday’s Daddy’s Home premiere in New York.
Burns, who said that making the movie helped him work out his relationship with his wife’s ex, added that there are a few scenes and elements from the film that are based on real incidents. Specifically, both the daddy-daughter dance in the movie and the way Ferrell’s character Brad’s stepdaughter draws not-so-flattering family portraits came from his own life.
“I would always be checking out my stepdaughter’s drawings to see if I was appearing in the family portraits or not,” Burns said, explaining that one of his stepkids once drew a picture with his stepdaughter, stepson and wife as big figures in the foreground and him as a tiny stick figure in the background.
Red Granite co-founder Riza Aziz said he was glad to have the opportunity to make a comedy out of many families’ real situations.
“It’s amazing how many real-life families these days have exactly the same situation and it’s nice … to put some humor into what could be a potentially awkward situation and make it all a family, fun comedy,” Aziz said.
The production company behind The Wolf of Wall Street and Dumb and Dumber To co-produced and co-financed Daddy’s Home, helping to bring Wahlberg on board, reuniting him with his Other Guys co-star Ferrell.
In Daddy’s Home, Wahlberg’s real dad, Dusty, plays a few mind games with Ferrell’s stepdad, including ignoring Brad at the airport only to show up later at his home and deny that such an incident ever occurred.
Wahlberg said he tried to make those scenes seem as believable as possible.
“Just try to make it real, play it real, no matter how absurd the circumstances are, just always try to play it real,” Wahlberg told THR of his goal in those scenes. “And the great thing about Will is he has the same approach to work. No matter what he’s doing, he wants to play it real. I can’t really do it any other way.”
Co-star Linda Cardellini, who plays Brad’s wife and Dusty’s ex, said she tried to make her character’s relationships with both men seem real.
“It was important to me that it be established that she really has a wonderful relationship with Brad and she really loves him and I think because he’s such a great guy and so great to her children, that sort of foundation seems sort of unshakeable at first and as he starts to get crazier and crazier, it takes on new feelings,” Cardellini said. But with Dusty, Cardellini points out, her character’s wiser than Brad is.
“She’s the only one who doesn’t fall for Dusty’s charms anymore. She’s been through that and she’s seen it and she’s done it and she’s not going there again,” Cardellini told THR. “Even Will’s character sort of falls for it, he falls under his spell. I love that about her in that she’s a little bit smarter in that way.”
Brad and Dusty’s competition includes a number of painful-looking moments of physical comedy, including Brad getting lodged in a wall after he loses control of Dusty’s motorcycle and Brad flying off of a half-pipe into a electrical wire.
Ferrell told THR that as outrageous as those moments are, they seemed like a logical outgrowth of the story.
“We just kept thinking, well how can they keep continuing to top themselves? It should just continue to get more and more physical and crazier and crazier until they’ve destroyed everything,” Ferrell said. “Their backs are up against the wall, and they kind of have to stop being children and start being adults and figure out a solution and what’s best to parent and help out these kids and this family.”
Red Granite co-founder Joey McFarland said he thinks the physical comedy will help the film have a wider audience overseas.
“I think it’s great for the movie because comedy doesn’t always translate internationally, and I think the more physical comedy you can add to a film, it stimulates the audiences and it translates better,” he said.
McFarland was also confident about Daddy’s Home‘s box-office prospects despite the film being set to open on Christmas, entering a crowded holiday frame.
“Our movie is a family movie and I think it’s the family movie to go see. There’s a lot of great films in the marketplace but I don’t think as many of them tick as many boxes as we do,” he said. “And I think that that’s a real advantage for us, and at the end of the day, I think a crowd brings a crowd. I think it’s going to be a big box office in general.”