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Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg make for one of oddest on-screen duos around: the former one of Hollywood’s silliest comedic performers, the latter an intense, intimidating figure best known for his action roles. Perhaps the only thing they have in common is that they’ve both appeared on camera only in their tighty-whiteys — though in very different contexts and to very different effect.

Five years after first teaming up in director Adam McKay’s buddy-cop film “The Other Guys,” Ferrell, 48, and Wahlberg, 44, reunite in the comedy “Daddy’s Home,” in theaters on Christmas, with Ferrell playing Brad, an earnest, mild-mannered stepfather of two kids whose position in his family is threatened when Wahlberg’s alpha-male biological dad Dusty swoops back into town.

We talked to the two about their comedic chemistry, their parenting styles and which of them can do the most pull-ups (spoiler alert: Wahlberg).

After “The Other Guys,” were you two looking for something else to do together?

Ferrell: I was always thinking I’d love to do something with Mark again, but I don’t think we actively talked about it. And then this movie was pitched to us, and it was getting developed, and there just happened to be a window in Mark’s schedule. Notice I said “Mark’s schedule” — there’s great demand for Mark, not so much for me. [laughs]

We’d had some other machinations of how this movie could be cast; there was a point where I was going to play Dusty, and I was maybe going to do it with Ed Helms, and then that fell apart. But we were like, “Mark would be great as the dad that every male wants to be and is slightly afraid of.”

Wahlberg: I don’t know where that comes from. I mean, anybody who’s young and thinks they’re cool and hip doesn’t want to be like me. I love my life but going to bed at 10 o’clock at night, tucking the kids in and looking forward to getting to bed. … My two favorite times of my own during the day are when I finish at the gym and have a protein shake and when I get to bed.

You guys are both dads in real life. Will, you’ve got a goofy-fun-dad vibe, and, Mark, I think people would assume you’re the kind of dad who runs a tight ship.

Wahlberg: I am — if it starts getting a little crazy, I’m definitely the disciplinarian. I put my foot down. But we have a lot of fun too. My kids know that dad can be a bit of a pushover. I learn a lot from Will because he is patient. He tolerates a lot. He’s understanding. His kids will say a bad word or something and I’m like, “What?!!”

Ferrell: If you observe me, yeah, I’m fun, but I’m probably a lot stricter than you’d think. Sometimes I’m much more the heavy than my wife is. I hold my ground pretty sternly. I can tell my kids are like, “Where’d this come from?”

Growing up, your parents both divorced when you were young. Did you have your own experiences with a stepparent?

Ferrell: I did but not until much later. When I was in high school, my dad remarried.

Wahlberg: I did. My mother remarried, and I had a stepfather. We weren’t, like … [shakes his head]. He almost got his ass whupped a few times, but my mom would never let us. Then he goes and breaks her heart, and then she wants us to whup his ass. He didn’t know what he got into. With all my brothers? It was …

Ferrell: A tornado of Wahlbergs.

You guys are obviously an unlikely comic duo. What do you think it is about you together that works?

Ferrell: I think it’s appealing because it’s unlikely. Mark also doesn’t do a ton of comedy, so I think it’s a treat for the audience to see him step out and do comedy. You still prefer doing drama 60-40 or 70-30, right?

Wahlberg: I just really like doing the complete opposite of the last thing I did. For me, it’s my own selfish joy. I have a blast working with [Ferrell and McKay, who also produced “Daddy’s Home”]. They kind of welcomed me into their world, which was surprising to me. There were comedic elements to performances I’d done in the past, but doing a full-blown comedy is a different thing. They were encouraging me to be as crazy as I wanted to be, and I always felt really safe and protected.

Ferrell: We were such big fans of Mark in movies like “I Heart Huckabees” — his performances are so committed. We approach it the same way. We’re never winking at the camera. No matter how crazy the stuff we can be talking about is, we’re still really serious about it. So I think those are the things that kind of add up to make it fun to watch us together.

Mark, did you feel much resistance at first from the industry or the audience to the idea of you doing comedy?

Wahlberg: There may or may not be resistance, but if you don’t succeed, it’s a problem. You don’t get too many other cracks at it. That was why for me it was so much better to wait for the right opportunity — not only the right material but the right people to work with. And once that happened, then I was good.

Will, you’ve tried going the other way, from comedy to drama. Do you think that’s harder?

Ferrell: Yeah, I just went down the road with something that was going to happen, and now it’s back in a holding pattern — it was a biopic-y kind of thing. The problem I run into is, you have to divorce yourself from thinking it’s going to be funny just because I’m in it. I’m going to play it the way I think this character is supposed to be. So if you’re going to sign off on me, view me as an actor as opposed to this comedian doing his thing. I come up against that all the time.

Mark, you recently did 22 pull-ups in 30 seconds on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Will, how many do you think you could do?

Ferrell: Right now I think I could do one or two. It would be sad.

Wahlberg: Well, you’re a big dude.

Ferrell: I’ve got 220 pounds I’ve got to pull up. That’s a lot of weight proportional to these long, relatively skinny arms. Once on the old Conan O’Brien late-night show, I said, “I’m going to do pull-ups for charity, and for every pull-up I do, I’m going to give $1,000.” And then I get on the pull-up bar and I struggle and kick and kick, and I don’t even get one. The audience was like half laughing and half going, “Ohhhhhh.” [laughs] I’m still very proud of that.

You guys have now done two movies together. Any thought about keeping it going?

Wahlberg: We’ve got to get him in the “Transformers” game.

Ferrell: [shrugs] Show me the money.


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