Interview with star Linda Cardellini.
Linda Edna Cardellini stars opposite Will Ferrell as his current wife and Mark Wahlberg as his ex-wife in new comedy Daddy’s Home. Versatile, irresistible and talented, her accomplished career has many Australian links appearing with the late Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain. An ER and Mad Men television veteran, Linda also impresses as part of the ensemble cast opposite our most recent Golden Globe nominee Ben Mendelsohn in HBO series Bloodline.
*Shane A. Bassett – You came to Australia to film Scooby Doo (2002). What do you remember from that experience?
*Linda Cardellini – I love Australia, the people, the geography, I miss it and would love to go back. We made the film on the Gold Coast and they even made a ride at the theme park to honour us. When we were filming, if I was tired, I would jump on for a ride to get an adrenaline rush to continue. Haven’t been back but it’s about time I did. The beaches were beautiful on Surfers Paradise – it was perfect for me doing tourist activities. I remember crying thinking being away from home and family for six months then I was crying again at the end of production not wanting to leave (laughs).
SAB – You have worked with many Australians – Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain) & Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) to name a few.
LC – I do love Australian people, Unique and caring, my hairdresser here in the States is an Aussie.
SAB – It seemed during many scenes in Daddy’s Home you were holding a burst of laughter back. How hard was it to play it straight opposite Mark and Will?
LC – Sometimes it was difficult but other times it was crew behind the monitor including the director, but the boys were great sometimes cracking each other up in the middle of scenes. Even some of the more serious scenes at times had improvisation, it was a great set to be on.
SAB – How often did the cameras keep rolling after the scripted scenes?
LC – The set was really loose and fun. We would stick to the script but had a few takes when we would just do whatever. Sean Anders (Director) encouraged improvisation occasionally as did the crew who often yelled out try this, or try that. In particular, there is a moment in a doctor’s office with Bobby Cannavale which has Mark drop his pants and the improvisation that Will says in that scene is my absolute favourite.
SAB – How did you land the role – was there an audition process?
LC – I worked on Welcome To Me (2014) with Kristen Wiig in which Will was a producer. He and his partner Adam McKay mentioned they might like me to play the wife in Daddy’s Home. Soon after, it actually came through which made me really happy. It doesn’t always work out that way, just so proud of being part of Daddy’s Home and the chance they took on me.
SAB – You nailed it. Now your middle name is Edna – is that a family name or have some significance?
LC – (laughs) I’m named after my great grandmother but something I used to be a little embarrassed of, that name really sticks out. As a kid I tried to make up a different middle name for myself, then I realised it’s a family name, I should honour it. Now I like it and nobody seems to be naming their kids Linda or Edna anymore so I have two pretty rare names.
SAB – Filming the basketball scene at an actual game, did the crowd get in on the act?
LC – At first they were not in on the joke, it was announced that something for a movie was happening in the intermission (laughs). Oh i mean the middle, or half time, you can really tell I come from theatre saying intermission (laughs louder). We rehearsed it beforehand going through the motions but then it came time to do it at a live stadium within 10 minutes of allocated time. Will just perfectly pulled it off acting drunk and hitting that girl in the face, the audience did not know. There was a quiet silence of gasping, then laughing, a mix of different reactions – they thought it was real. He did it a second time to the crowd cheering, but then the incident immediately went viral with reports online Will Ferrell thrown out of basketball game. My dad believed it, calling me to say he just saw Will Ferrell get arrested. It took a while to convince him it was for a movie and that I was still going to work tomorrow on the same film.
SAB – It certainly is a highlight. What differences was it as an actor completing that scene in front of a live audience as opposed to a soundstage?
LC – Exhilarating, watching what was happening. On one hand was wanting to cheer but on the other hand, look horrified while remaining in character, such fun. We knew it was a success as soon as the cheerleader got hit and our facial reactions were captured on the jumbo screens. It was larger than life compared to shooting scenes on a stage with just you and a tiny crew. To take part in the stadium shoot was big, magical and cinematic.
SAB – Your children, played in the film by Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro, seem to act beyond their years. Did they fully understand the rivalry between their two actor dads?
LC – Yes they were clear on the story, both so talented, sweet and cute kids. We all said I want to be their agent due to the impression they left. They adored the guys, it was hard for us to keep a straight face when they acted mean, they were really so wonderful. It was easy to play a loving mum.
SAB – Which one of the two guys do you think you would really most likely be married to?
LC – Ha, good question. It’s great that we saw at one time Sara (my character) made a choice that wasn’t so good but made a better choice later on in life. She picked the guy who loves her and the kids sharing a lasting relationship, who wouldn’t love a guy who when walking down the stairs before work says you look beautiful. At one point she had the wilder years of falling for boys with bad boy charm. I love that she grows up and doesn’t succumb to that, she is pretty much the only one not falling for it anymore. Her evolution in guys is apparent like in real life.
SAB – When and where did you perfect your comic timing, was it your frequent voice-over roles or early parts in popular comedies Good Burger and Legally Blonde?
LC – The first time I was ever in a play The Music Man at eleven years old, I was really really tiny for my age. Now I’m like a normal small person but was a very late bloomer as a kid. Playing a little old lady, I was on big stage at a community theatre production. I stuffed my bra, put on a crazy hat and sang. I suddenly got big laughs and that was it, I was done, that’s all I ever wanted to do. When I started in film and television, projects were comedy especially Freaks & Geeks where people started noticing me. I’ve been very lucky to go back and forth between genres, ER was unforgettable.
SAB – Appearing in Avengers Age of Ultron, how did it feel entering the Marvel universe and will we be seeing you again as Hawkeye’s wife?
LC – I don’t know the answer to the second part and they would never let me tell. I was so excited to play a grounded woman in the mix of all those superheroes. It was huge secret that I couldn’t say until release, so great to be part of. Not only having one or two of them in a scene with me but having them all standing in your front room on set was great. I was lucky enough to shoot that at the time of Bloodline, to be able to do both at the same time, actor’s heaven. Then as I finished the Bloodline season on a Friday, production of Daddy’s Home began Monday.
SAB – That’s how versatile your career is, being able to mix it up successfully in variable roles.
LC – Thank you Shane, to me that’s a great compliment. I really appreciate that, it’s something I think is wonderful about being an actress being able to move through different characters.
SAB – Acting is hard work mentally and physically, you look magnificent. Do you have any secrets to your success or fitness?
LC – (laughs) Thank you but no secrets but if anybody has any let me know. I’m always trying to keep working and travel with my daughter who comes with me on locations, I love what I do.
SAB – What’s up next for you?
LC – Bloodline season 2 which we are in the middle of shooting and The Founder, a movie I did with Michael Keaton about the founding of McDonalds. It’s a great script and Michael has always been one of my favourites, an honour to work with him as it was to talk with you Shane.
Shane A. Bassett