It’s not every day you walk into a fake house with motorcycle tread leading up a giant hole in the wall, but that’s just how things work in Hollywood, or rather, in New Orleans where Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell filmed their latest collaboration, Daddy’s Home.
Directed by Sean Anders (That’s My Boy, Horrible Bosses 2), Daddy’s Home tells the story of Brad (Will Ferrell), a nice, sensitive guy who finally gets the family he always wanted when he marries Sarah (Linda Cardellini) and becomes stepfather to her two children. As you can probably tell from the title, things get tricky when Sarah’s first husband, macho bad boy Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), reenters their life and does everything he can to undermine Brad as a husband, father, and man.
Unlike Ferrell and Wahlberg’s last movie together, The Other Guys, Daddy’s Home has a more family-friendly feel, though director Sean Anders doesn’t want it classified quite that way:
It's not a kids movie, but I think you can take your kids to this movie and enjoy the movie. You know that it's a family movie, but I guess we weren't thinking of it that way. It's funny when I hear the words 'family movie,' because I have kids now, and this is the first movie I've done out of town since I've had kids, and all I watch are kids and family movies now, because once you have kids that's all you see anymore practically. So whenever I hear 'family movie' I think Old Yeller. This isn't quite that, but no, it's actually been really fun. Rated R is a lot of fun because of the freedom it affords but it has its own sort of crutches and boundaries. A lot of times there's a push for things to be, well if we're going to the trouble of making it rated R lets go really crazy and super hard R and whatever, and that can be really fun but this is really fun to to not have that pressure and just be able to tell a story and not worry about making it completely crazy.
The set I saw was about as family oriented as they get - a plain, suburban house filled with photos and knickknacks galore. The stage was surrounded by a gigantic photo of similar houses along with trees and parked cars. It couldn’t believe such a thing could ever pass as real. Once I stepped into the fake house and looked at the backdrop through some windows the verisimilitude improved but only by degrees. When I saw the backdrop through an actual camera setup, however, I totally bought it. Movie magic!
Of course, this was day forty of shooting, so some shit had gone down in that house before I arrived. As previously mentioned, part of it had been destroyed by a wild motorcycle driven by Will Ferrell in a failed attempt to look as cool as his new rival. I was also told about a zip-line fiasco that occurs, some skateboarding mishaps, and a bit involving the LA Lakers that you probably already know about since it went viral earlier this year.
During a break in filming I had the opportunity to chat with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell about how their characters in this film compare to their characters in The Other Guys, which lead to a nice back and forth on the dynamic at play throughout Daddy’s Home:
Will Ferrell: I’m once again kind of straight laced and Makr is kind of the, you’re the…
Mark Wahlberg: Crazy guy! Yeah… See how we think alike?
Will Ferrell: But you’re even crazier this time! Except every time he says something crazy, it turns out to be true, he’s actually done it. So his tall tales are actually feats that he’s accomplished which is even more bewildering to me. But Dusty’s like a mythical character in a way, it’s hard to believe that this guy really exists, and I keep – my wife keeps saying like, ‘I’m warning you, don’t let him into our lives,’ I’m like, ‘It’s going to be fine!’ And sure enough, he’s like a magical creature who wreaks havoc on my life.
Mark Wahlberg: I’m trying to do it in a not so traditional way, either. I’m trying to be as pleasant and likable as possible for the most part until I put him in a horrible predicament.
Will Ferrell: He’s incredibly charismatic --
Mark Wahlberg: We didn’t want it to be like, Oh, this guy’s a dick, we’ll root against him and we’ll root for him. We wanted it to be a little more –
Will Ferrell: He’s Lucy to my Charlie Brown. Every time he pulls the football away and I try to kick it, he figures out another way to get me to try to kick the football again and I fall for it every time.
Most of the day was spent filming a simple two or three-minute long dialog scene setting up the eventual introduction of a fertility doctor. It was about as low key as it gets. Nevertheless, it offered a unique look at how improvisation can improve a scene, as a throwaway addition from comedian Hannibal Buress mutated into an stronger piece of comedy from take to take.
Talking with Buress about his work on the film ended up turning into a bit in and of itself:
I just come in and say jokes, man. Just say jokes. It’s not really challenging stuff. I’m not really getting all method. The most challenging part was I had to do a scene with a baby, yesterday or the day before. It was Monday. And so you have to hold the baby, which seems simple. It wasn’t even an emotional scene where I have to give a speech to the baby. I say one line to the baby and then pull it a little bit back towards me. But there’s a big process to it where you can’t just have one baby because babies aren’t responsible. (big laugh) So they have three babies. And they had a tent a little bit off-set where I met the mother and the baby, just us three. Because a baby can’t just pop on set like “Hey, what’s going on guys? Big fan. Excited to work. Thanks for the opportunity.” I had to meet the baby, and talk with it. And I haven’t been around babies for a while, so it’s kind of weird, and my emotions are stilted. It’s not natural to me. So the first two babies, they didn’t want any part of it.
All in all, Daddy's Home looks like a fun Christmas movie for families looking for something slightly lighter than The Hateful 8. We already know Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg make a great comedy pair. The addition of Hannibal Buress makes the film even more appealing.
Daddy’s Home opens December 25, but if you really want to see it in style, check out the details in this cool contest for charity: