“You’re only ever as good as your script and your cast-mates”

Interview with Rose Byrne
Rose Byrne was considered a dramatic actress for a long time, but she can't stop playing in comedies since the success of the Bridesmaids. In the Instant family, she forms a couple with Mark Wahlberg who will adopt three children at the same time.
People are saying Instant Family is basically a perfect example of a classic studio picture. Which movies did you guys talk about as a reference?  
I agree! Jerry Maguire, Terms Of Endearment, Parenthood, too. Steel Magnolias, James L. Brooks films, John Hughes films. I know John Hughes is Sean’s [Anders’] hero.  Tonally, that’s what we discussed because we were never sure how far to push the comedy, or when to pull it back. Sean would say, ‘I’m going to find this in the edit bay,’ and I trusted him implicitly with this story – I knew how passionate he was about what he was doing. So it was easy in that sense.
I knew he was going to take care of us.

Your track record on picking great scripts, in comedy in particular, is pretty faultless. Did you know straight away that you were on to another good thing with this?
I was hoping so, and obviously everyone was intending that, but you just never know! What I did know was that it was a special story, that it was inspired by Sean’s life, and that of many families he’d met, but you never know. I’ve been so lucky [to this point]. Honestly, from Get Him To The Greek on… You’re only ever as good as your script and your cast-mates. And, obviously, the director. And I’ve been thrown in with these incredible heavyweights like Jonah Hill and Nick Stoller and Judd Apatow and [Paul] Feig, and [Kristen] Wiig and [Melissa] McCarthy and Seth Rogen and everyone. And now it’s Sean and Mark [Wahlberg]. You follow your intuition as much as you can, but it’s also what comes your way and what doesn’t. I can only say that it’s always about the company you keep and the story you’re telling. It’s such a mystery, really. You just try to make decisions based on your instinct and hope for the best.



How special a script was it, when you first saw it?

I’ll put it this way: I’d just had my second child and I was deep in the fog of newborn-land. No sleep and breastfeeding. And recovering, all those things. I was like, ‘I don’t want to go back to work!’ And then I read this script, at the encouragement of my agent and everybody else and I was like, ‘Oh dear, I’m gonna have to go back to work. Oh shit.’ Bobby [Cannavale, Byrne’s partner] read the script, too, and he was in floods of tears at the end. So, I was like, ‘Well, that’s that. I have to get myself back to work.’

If a script can get Bobby in tears that’s saying something, right?
Oh, he’s a soft one! He’s just a big old softie. Big heart.

Clearly it’s hard to be away from your loved ones while shooting a film. Did you take your family on location with you?
Yes, everyone came. We all bunkered down in Atlanta, for three months. We just made our home there and it was great. They were really accommodating, obviously, with me having two small children, so I was well taken care of. You know what it’s like. It’s hectic, such chaos!

You’re playing a fictionalised version of Sean’s wife. Was there a pressure in doing her justice?
There was such a sense of responsibility, although this is obviously inspired by Sean and other families. And Beth was cool. We met really early on. She brought a load of photos and stuff. But Beth’s also really shy, she’s a very private person and really measured, but lovely and warm and super-sweet. And she was so patient with all my nosey questions. I was like, ‘What did you wear, when you were picking the kids up?’ She put up with all of that! And, in fact, slowly I realised from the more I spoke to Beth and Sean that Ellie [Byrne’s character] is actually more similar to Sean, I think. Sean is far more hot-headed and passionate on the surface, like Ellie in a way, so in a weird way she’s more like Sean. Sean might tell you, ‘No way!’
But that’s what I think.

Did you talk with Mark [Wahlberg] about that? How did you guys figure out your dynamic?
Mark is so impressive, the most disciplined actor I’ve ever worked with. I mean, he does a million other things, but when he’s with you he’s 100 percent present. And that’s why his comedy works so well, because that earnest quality is just so funny. We rehearsed, which was great, but you never know what your decisions are going to be until you’re in front of the camera, with the other actor in front of you. You can make as many decisions as you want, but nothing counts until you’re there. Everything changes, because acting is reacting. So I’m just waiting to see what his choices are going to be. And Mark’s always very relaxed. And he’s very funny. Really funny. And technically brilliant, and very prepared. And I appreciate all of those things, especially being a working parent. You know, you’re always, even more so now, ‘Let’s do this! Let’s do it great! And let’s do it now!’ And he has a similar ethic. He’s also very quiet, too. He’s not in your face about anything. And he knows what every single person in the room does. It’s like he works for the Feds. He knows all the corners and all the shades – everything!
Tulu/UIP-Duna Film
2019.01.21
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(13 pictures)


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