Mark Wahlberg and writer/ director Sean Anders have a solid working relationship. Having collaborated on Daddy's Home and Daddy’s Home Too, Wahlberg didn’t hesitate when Anders asked him to star in his new film, Instant Family.
Inspired by Anders’ own life experiences, the film follows a couple (Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) who decide to adopt children through the foster care system. They definitely get more than they bargained for when they wind up with three siblings, a teenage girl (Isabela Moner) and two younger kids (Julianna Gamiz and Gustavo Quiroz).
The film is heartwarming, realistic, at times pretty funny, and in no way sugar coats what Foster families go through.
Our Bonnie Laufer spoke with Wahlberg and Byrne about the film and how it affected them on a personal level.
ORIGINAL-CIN: Being parents, as you both know is hard enough. Being a foster parent is a whole other ball game! What did you learn about this process?
MARK WAHLBERG: “Quite a bit actually. We saw these wonderful families - because we met quite a few of them during the process of making the film - bringing in children who really need a home and deserve a home and a family. And it is quite extraordinary. It’s really encouraging and inspiring, and my hope is that this movie will help encourage people to think about taking foster children into their homes.”
OC: I believe that most of the people who take in Foster children are very special people, although they don’t see themselves like that at all.
ROSE BYRNE: “The film is based on our director Sean Anders and his wife’s Beth story. So I personally found that quite helpful and realistic when I initially read the script. I knew that if I had any questions he would draw from his own experiences. The funny thing is that everyone does always say, ‘You are such saints for doing this.’
“But the Foster parents that I’ve met (including Sean) don’t like being called saints or believe that they are special at all. They admit that it can be hard, but it is the most rewarding thing for them and that is why they do it. It’s a truly incredible experience for both the parents and the kids.”
OC: Very eye opening as well.
RB: “Yes, and I think that the film depicts a pretty honest account of what foster parenting is, and what everyone goes through. It’s not all good or all bad. There are plenty of struggles and we were privy to some really honest conversations between the foster parents that are sometimes funny but really real.
“I also think that when you have your own children you go through a lot of the same things too. Who doesn’t think, when they get overwhelmed, that maybe they’ve made a mistake having kids? Family, in whatever shape and or form, is hard and I think that this film is a good examination of that.”
OC: The three children that you both foster are really fantastic, with one of them being a teenage girl played by Isabela Moner. Mark, you’re the dad of a teenage daughter. How much of your own personal experiences were used in the film?
MW: “I had, of course, worked with Sean Anders on a number of films before this one. So he made sure to take a few incidents from my own life and use them in the movie.
“When we were on the set of Daddy’s Home 2, I was called many times in the middle of a scene by my wife to referee a fight between her and my teenage daughter. So I can assure you that all of that stuff ended up in the movie.
“Also, Isabela and I had worked together before (Transformers:The Last Knight), so we were close. It took a while for the two other kids to open up to me, but I think it was one of those things that made sense. Rose was always trying to get me to play with them and hang out with them. But I think it was better that it happened organically. We obviously formed a wonderful bond and the kids were really outstanding and very special.”
RB: “They were great. And yes, they were a bit more standoffish initially. But it kind of worked with how our relationship evolved in the film. I have to admit, I liked hearing the stories about Mark dealing with his daughter because I don’t have a teenager yet, so it was fun to hear about his personal experiences.”
OC: The film gets pretty emotional. Were there a lot of tears shed on set?
RB: “Oh sure, most definitely. Especially when we met the real foster parents and kids who have been through the system. It’s very moving and emotional.
“In the film there is a fun-fair so that potential parents can go and meet up with Foster Kids. It is a real thing and there are literally dozens of children there who need and want to be taken into a good foster home. It really breaks your heart.”
Click HERE for Bonnie’s video interviews with Instant Family director Sean Anders, and co-stars Tig Notaro, Julie Haggerty, Julianna Gamiz and Gustavo Quiroz