Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell are doubling down on dads in Daddy's Home 2.
Mel Gibson will play Wahlberg's father and John Lithgow is Ferrell's in the sequel to Daddy's Home. The 2015 comedy hit featured boring stepfather Brad Whitaker (Ferrell) competing for his stepchildren's love against their far-cooler biological father Dusty Mayron (Wahlberg).
That story ended with a robust $242 million worldwide at the box office and Brad and Dusty reaching a peaceful co-dad existence. But it all blows up when their respective fathers visit for the holidays in Daddy's Home 2 (in theaters Nov. 10).
Wahlberg, 46, says he loved the idea of bringing on Gibson, 61, who moved past Hollywood controversy with his 2016 drama Hacksaw Ridge, which received six Oscar nominations, including best picture and director.
"I thought it was brilliant, the right choice," says Wahlberg. "Everyone was throwing names around for that. But for a guy who is cooler, a threat to Dusty, edgy in that way, it's a great choice. Yeah, come on."
Their age gap (or lack thereof) only enhanced the plot, since Mel's Kurt clearly was too young to parent responsibly. "I immediately started pitching jokes that Kurt had me when he was 11," Wahlberg says.
Director and co-writer Sean Anders says the discussion around casting a father for Ferrell, 49, who is 6-foot-3, started with height. Enter 6-foot-4 Lithgow, 71, star of TV's 3rd Rock From the Sun, as Don.
"They are both big, tall guys. And next to each other, they really look like father and son — both really have kind eyes," Anders says. "The icing on the cake is John's crazy funny."
Both sets of sons and fathers have their quirks. Brad and Don are extremely affectionate, even kissing on the lips when greeting each other. Meanwhile, Dusty and Kurt don't show any emotion at all.
In the sequel, "I'm harboring a lot of resentment that I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my dad. I never heard the L word, never had a hug. Those are issues that we struggle with," says Wahlberg. "But we start to realize that Brad and his dad's relationship is not so perfect. That all explodes. And it’s chaos from there."
Gibson's character is macho, "says highly inappropriate things" and disapproves of Brad's co-parenting situation, Wahlberg says. But Gibson showed a very different side on the set, proudly showing off his ninth child, Lars Gerard Gibson, born Jan. 20 ("There was a lot of dad talk that day," Anders say), and diving into the improv-heavy comedy style.
Wahlberg says even he was reticent shooting a scene where he and Ferrell dance and sing wildly. Then he saw Gibson getting his happy freak on, even though he wasn't in the shot.
"It was eight in the morning on a Sunday. And he was just going for it," Wahlberg says of Gibson. "He was dancing and carrying on in that way. And we shot it over and over again. It was just amazing to see. He was there and in it. He was so free."