The story behind Daddy’s Home – An interview with Sean Anders, John Morris and Brian Burns

Published by Daniel Bennifer on April 26, 2016 1:05 pm
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Sean Anders, John Morris and Brian Burns discuss Daddy’s Home, the hilarious family comedy, ahead of upcoming release.

To celebrate the upcoming release of Daddy’s Home from Paramount and Universal Pictures, GizLine sits down with the creative team – Sean Anders, John Morris and Brian Burns – behind the film.

Dubbed a “hilarious family comedy”, the film stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who previously teamed up as hopeless New York Detectives in the 2010 action-comedy The Other Guys. This time around, the duo battles it out as step-dad and dad.

In Daddy’s Home, Ferrell’s character Brad, has always dreamed of having the perfect family home. He is determined to be the best step-dad possible to his wife’s children. Yet, his plans are quickly uprooted when their biological father, Dusty – played by Wahlberg – shows up out of the blue. What pursues is a battle of wits that promises to “have you in stitches.”

Out now on Digital HD, Daddy’s Home will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on May 2. The Blu-ray boasts exclusive bonus content, which amount to more than 45 minutes in length. Want to know what you have to look forward to and find out where the inspiration for Daddy’s Home originally came from? Read our interview below for the full scoop.

GizLine: How did you come up with the idea for Daddy’s Home?

Brian Burns: When I married my wife she already had two kids, so I was jumping into being a stepfather. And as I didn’t have kids of my own, this was entirely new to me. With it came all this anxiety of, “I have no idea what I am doing and just jumping into the deep end here!”

GizLine: And, like Will Ferrell’s character in the movie, then you had to deal with the real father, right?

Brian Burns: Yes, and that’s what I hadn’t factored in at the time! That created different periods of tension between both of us, as we couldn’t be more opposite because I’m very anal and he is the life of the party. So we would keep on having these interactions where I would do one thing and then he would unravel it, which was sort of swirling around my head when the spark of the idea for this movie came.

GizLine: What was that spark?

Brian Burns: I was tucking my daughter into bed when she asked me: “So now that you are married to mommy, who is going to take me to the daddy/daughter dance?” That struck me, because it was a little bit heartbreaking to see this little girl try to figure out what her new life looked like; but then for me it was also uplifting, as I couldn’t believe I was in the running to be considered for the daddy/daughter dance! But that conflict was never as bad as it is in the movie…

GizLine: How would you describe the spirit of this comedy?

Brian Burns: The goal was always to write a film about this experience that so many blended families are going through today. And there isn’t a movie out there that has tackled this issue. So my goal was to write a story in which these two dads that are polar opposites and in complete conflict with each other figure out a way to come together that is for the benefit of the kids. This way by the end they all realize that, once you swallow your ego and suck it up a little bit, two fathers are better than one.


Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg star as step-father and father in Daddy’s Home, as they battle for supremacy. Out now on Digital HD ahead of release on Blu-ray and DVD on May 2.

GizLine: Would you say that in many occasions the best comedy comes out of reality?

John Morris: Yes, for sure!

Sean Anders: And part of what drew me to it was that, as my kids are adopted, there most probably will come a day where my wife and I will have to understand that they may reunite with their blood relatives – which at the same time is a really scary thought... So even though I don’t have that experience yet, I have the potential for it and it’s certainly something I have thought about a lot.
GizLine: In other films, normally the stepfather is the bad guy or the father doesn’t want to be involved with the kids, but that’s not the case here…

John Morris: No, it isn’t! Actually, these guys desperately want to be a part of their children’s lives and win their love and affection! It’s not easy to be a father, and we wanted to shine a light on that reality.

GizLine: And it’s hard to imagine better actors for the roles of the stepfather Brad and the real father Dusty than Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg!

Sean Anders: Well, as Brian already had a relationship with Chris Henchy, who works with Will, we were lucky that his idea went straight to him and that he dug it right away. Then we were talking with Will about who would be the perfect Dusty and, as we wanted him to be so cool and intimidating, who better than Mark Wahlberg? Because he really is that guy! He is really cool and good at everything.

GizLine: Can you recall a moment during the shoot that illustrates how cool Mark Wahlberg really is in true life?

Sean Anders: I remember that when we were shooting a scene in a basketball court Mark took a football and threw it across full court into the basket, and then the funny thing is that he had no reaction to what he had just done at all after he did it. He didn’t high-five anybody or pump any fists, but was more like, “Yeah, that just happened…” So being around him is kind of like being around a superhero.

GizLine: And when were you aware of the great chemistry they both have together?

Sean Anders: We had heard great things about Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg working together on The Other Guys, and it obviously looked like they had great chemistry in that movie, although the truth is that you never know; but as soon as we got them together to do a private read-through and they started to kind of joke about things you could tell that they genuinely liked each other and were going to have a good time with this.

The story behind Daddy’s Home – An interview with Sean Anders, John Morris and Brian Burns

GizLine: Another key role in the movie is Sara, who is Brad’s wife and Dusty’s ex-wife and mother of their kids, played by Linda Cardellini. She is the only one in Daddy’s Home that seems to have her head on her shoulders…

Sean Anders: Yes, but the hard thing about it was that if she was really saying and doing everything a mother should we probably wouldn’t have a movie, because she had to walk this tightrope of not ruining all the fun while at the same time reacting in an honest way to what these two guys are doing, and I think Linda did a beautiful job.

GizLine: The truth is, you have some fantastic actors in supporting roles. How was the experience with them?

Sean Anders: The funny thing is that we had someone like Thomas Haden Church, who is so funny, for just 3 days; but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the movie because every time he is on screen he is killing it! So, when people see the film they think they saw a lot more of him than they really did because he is just so funny in every scene that he is in.

GizLine: And the same can be said about Bobby Cannavale.

Sean Anders: Oh yes, Bobby is so funny too! I had seen The Station Agent several times and just believed Bobby Cannavale would be great for the role of Dr. Francisco because he is so nutty, and I thought it would make more sense to bring in a serious actor who was really funny that could play it with honesty and not lean into the jokes.

GizLine: There’s a fair amount of physical comedy in the film. How was it to direct these scenes?

Sean Anders: That stuff can be a little bit crazy and nerve-racking. I remember the day Mark Wahlberg stood up on the motorcycle we were towing with his hands in the air behind Will and we sat there thinking, “Oh my God! If he falls off this thing…” You never know what an actor is going to do when he gets into the moment…


GizLine: So, you encouraged the actors to improvise on set?

John Morris: Yes, we usually have everything scripted, and then we like to kind of open it up to improv once we get what we need.

Sean Anders: And then a lot of the time, what they are improvising brings up new ideas.

GizLine: Do you remember a specific scene where that happened?

Sean Anders: There is a scene in which Will suggests dancing as a way to resolve conflict, and I thought it would be good if the idea came out of an argument. So in the takes of them yelling back and forth to each other they are saying all these brilliant things that are just off the top of their heads!

GizLine: Do you find that sometimes a joke you prepared really well may not get the best laughs, but then a moment you were maybe not even aware of at the time ends up having the public in stitches?

John Morris: Oh yes! Actually, normally the jokes that you thought were sure about end up failing, but then stuff you didn’t even think was funny at the time has everyone laughing.

Sean Anders: There is always a few times during a test screening where the audience bursts out laughing and you don’t even know why at the time, but then you go, “Oh, I see…” For instance, there is this moment where Hannibal reacts to something Mark says and everyone laughs before Will’s next line that made me think, “What are they laughing at?” The truth is that I hadn’t even realized what he was doing at the time, but it’s great!

We would like to extend our thanks to Sean Anders, John Morris and Brian Burns for taking the time to discuss Daddy’s Home with us here at GizLine. We can’t wait to see what they do next! Be sure to catch the film now on Digital HD or when it arrives on Blu-ray and DVD in the United Kingdom from May 2.


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