Instant Family may seem like an outlandish family comedy, but it’s very personal to writer and director Sean Anders. He teamed up once more with Mark Wahlberg, who previously starred in his Daddy’s Home films, to bring a page of his family own life to the big screen. The story revolves around a couple who decide to foster three children, and both director and actor were on hand to discuss what they’ve learned about the foster system as well as what it was like to work with some of the younger talent.
Instant Family is now available on Digital and Blu-ray.
Screen Rant: Great job on the film, guys. It brought a tear to my eyes, like I was just saying. I relate to Pete so much in a lot of ways, because in the beginning of the film he kind of doesn't play the bad cop. I have somebody that's close to me that has a daughter, and I can never play the bad cop also. But what did you learn from Pete’s parenting style?
Sean Anders: I should apply it more in real life. Just being patient, you know? He was very patient and thoughtful guy. I'm working on it.
Mark Wahlberg: Me Too. And [Sean], you have the most patience. I've now made three movies with you, and you're working with kids and animals and me and Will. You've got a lot more patience than I do.
Sean Anders: I try. I try to have patience.
Screen Rant: So, this is based on your real-life adoption story. How closely did that story follow what happened in real life?
Sean Anders: It's inspired by my own story, but also the stories of a lot of other families that I met along the way and families that we met during our research process. My wife and I nearly adopted a teen girl, and in our case, we did meet a teen girl at a foster fair. But the way that that worked out was that girl had been in care for about four years and she ultimately decided that she was holding out hope that her mom was coming back for her. So she refused the placement. My kids in real life that we met after that were younger, but when it came time to make the movie, I really wanted to involve a teenager in the story.
Screen Rant: Interesting. Mark, this is not your first time working with Isabella who plays Lizzy; you worked with her in the Transformers franchise. How was it seeing her grow as an actress for the last couple of years and working with her again?
Mark Wahlberg: Fantastic. We worked together on Transformers, and Sean was like, “Well, everybody talked about her for this part. And I was like, ‘they just kind of worked together.’ You were kind of a father figure; would that be weird?” And I was like, “No.” And she’d just done Sicario 2, and she was looking at another big kind of action-oriented thing. I called her mom and I was like, “I really think because I know her, this is an awesome opportunity for her to really kind of show her range as an actress.” We've seen what she's done in action before, but to see her doing comedy and just drama… And it's such an amazing part that Sean and John wrote. It attracted the caliber of talent because what was on the page.
Screen Rant: She's amazing in this film. And I’ve got to ask about the support group, the supporting cast. How many of these people did you actually meet or are they kind of like mashups of people you've met along the way?
Sean Anders: They’re mashups. But it's all very accurate that when you get into those classes, there's a little bit of everybody there and you'll have the same sex couple sitting right next to the deeply religious couple sitting right next to the crazy single parent. You know, it's just a little bit of everybody. It's all very authentic.
Screen Rant: I also think this is important because I think that this shines a light on a lot of either mixed-race families or adoption families. Why do you think that people should see this film and what should they take away from it?
Sean Anders: Well, what I would love people to take away from it is to just see that kids that are in the system are not what you might think that they are, that these are just regular kids and they need love and they need support and they need family. They need all the things that we all take for granted.
Screen Rant: Last question is how has this opened your eyes to a being a foster parent at all?
Mark Wahlberg: When you’ve got four kids at home and they're giving us a run for our money every single day, there are days where my wife is like, “I want a fifth.” And then there's days where we're both like, “Oh my God, four is too many.” I think our youngest is already nine, so in nine years, she's 18 and we may be thinking about that, you know. I don’t know what an empty nest would feel like.