‘Instant Family’ director Sean Anders on adopting his own brood

Updated November 4, 2018 - 3:41 pm

Sean Anders was a DINK: dual income, no kids. The film director and his wife, Beth, finally decided to add some small faces around the table, but there was one issue: “I did feel like I was a little past my baby-making prime. I didn’t want to be one of those dads who couldn’t throw the ball to his 15-year-old.”

Anders joked with his wife, “Why don’t we adopt a 5-year-old? It will be like we got cracking five years ago.”

That’s exactly what they did, adopting siblings who were 6, 3 and 18 months. His real-life story is now the fodder for the comedy-drama “Instant Family,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as Pete and Ellie, adoptive parents trying to figure out how to expand their family without losing their minds.

Review-Journal: Describe a typical Sunday.

Sean Anders: The chill Sunday is our favorite. My kids are 13, 9 and 8 now. A lot of times, I’ll come up with something and go, “Hey, you want to go here?” And I’ll hear, “No, we want to stay home and play or hang out.” During the week, the kids are at school and sports. They just love their hang time. We love being low-key, hanging out around the house and then later watching a movie together. We’re a pretty casual family.

How tough was it to decide to direct a fictional story based on your life?

It wasn’t tough to decide to tell it. The tough part was to decide how to do it. At first, it didn’t feel like it could be a comedy to me, but then my producing partner said, “You’ve told me so many funny stories about adoption and what went on in your home.” The thought of doing an adoption story as a comedy became interesting to me because there have been so many intense dramas on this topic. Unfortunately, those movies sometimes add to some of the negative stigmas about these kids or how families are formed.

Tell us how your adoption story began. Once we started talking about adoption, we (looked) at a website just like the characters do in the film. It took a while for us because we had to figure out where to go online. It’s one of the reasons at the end of the movie, I refer people to instantfamily.org. There are so many different organizations, and we want to point people in the right direction. The next step was to take classes, which is a good thing because it gives you time to really think it through. We were certified, but just then I got a movie to direct for Adam Sandler called “That’s My Boy,” which was being shot in Boston.

Then what happened?

I was gone for a few months. The very last day of shooting, I got a call from our social worker saying, “OK, are you ready to jump in?” I was in postproduction while we were being matched with kids.

In the film, the couple adopt a teenager. That’s different from your story.

We nearly adopted an older child. My wife and I went to an adoption fair. We did meet a teenage girl there and her two siblings. We were afraid of teenagers, but those three kids were all very sweet. (They) had been in care for four years, but the oldest one was still very connected to her birth mother and holding out hope she was coming back. The agency told us the teen girl was not willing to go along with (an adoption). It was heartbreaking, but then our social worker said, “There are these other three kids who are 6, 3 and a year and a half. They had been in care for over a year.” And those are now my kids who I love dearly.

How was bedtime the first night?

Madness. One of the things you don’t think of is, “Oh, right, we have to bathe these people. We have to clip their toenails.” It’s a very weird thing. It’s not baby-sitting. You are the parents, and you start on Day One.

When were you called Dad for the first time?

Beth and I didn’t want to force the kids to call us Mom and Dad. Then, one day, our son Johnny said, “Hey, is it alright if I call you Mom and Dad?” (His eyes well up). We tried to be cool about it and said, “Sure, if you’re comfortable with it. Whatever you think.” Of course, we were both like, “Oh, my God!” Johnny actually went outside, came back in and was just trying it out because he had never called anyone Dad before. He goes, “Hey, Dad, can I …” When I answered to it, the floodgates opened and it became, ‘Hey, Dad… Dad, look at this… Mommy… Daddy…” It was a good day.

You worked with Mark Wahlberg before in the “Daddy’s Home” films. How did you get him on board for “Instant Family”?

I wrote Mark this passionate email explaining why this was so important to me. I attached the script, too. Mark gets up really early in the morning. He called me first thing and said, “Yes, I’m in. I’m doing it.” Mark met a lot of kids in foster care over the years, and this was something that was important to him.

Last question: Ever bring the kids to Las Vegas?

We did take the kids on a road trip to Vegas. We just threw them in the back of the car. Quick story: When I was a little kid, my family drove from our home in Wisconsin to California. We were sleeping in the back of the station wagon and my dad woke us up in the middle of the night as we were driving through Vegas. He wanted us to see all the lights. I never forgot that. I did the same thing. We drove to Vegas, woke up the kids and said, “Look at this!”

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Dream of AJ Montgomery
AJ Montgomery lost part of his leg in a vehicle accident but found his dream as a performer in “Le Reve.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kelly Clinton-Holmes of the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes chats with Kelly Clinton-Holmes, director of the Stirling Club's New Year's Eve entertainment.
Month-by-month entertainment coming in 2019
“True Detective” Season 3, HBO (Jan. 13) Travis Scott, T-Mobile Arena (Feb. 6) Robbie Williams, Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas (March 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16) “Game of Thrones” Season 8, HBO (April) Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (May 17-19) “Fiddler on the Roof,” The Smith Center (June 4-9) “The Lion King” (July 19) Psycho Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay (Aug. 16-18) Life is Beautiful, downtown Las Vegas (Sept. 20-22) “Tim Burton @ the Neon Museum” (Oct. 15) “Frozen 2” (Nov. 22) “Star Wars: Episode IX” (Dec. 20)
Lacey Huszcza invites you to find something to love at the Las Vegas Philharmonic
Lacey Huszcza, executive director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic talks about the orchestra's wealth of programming. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gina Marinelli offers La Strega preview
Gina Marinelli used a pop-up New Year’s Eve dinner at Starboard Tack to preview items she’ll feature at her new Summerlin restaurant, La Strega. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Year’s Eve at Sparrow + Wolf
Sparrow + Wolf’s New Year’s Eve party was a sort of official unveiling of its newly renovated space. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Debra Kelleher Of The Stirling Club
Debra Kelleher, DK Hospitality President talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the Stirling Club.
Richard Ditton Of The Stirling Club
Richard Ditton, an investment partner of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
NYE at the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes reports from the reopening of the Stirling Club on New Year's Eve 2018.
Michael Stapleton of the Stirling Club
Michael Stapleton, COO of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
Recap the Countdown on Fremont Street — VIDEO
Nearly 40,000 people packed Fremont Street to enjoy America's Party Downtown. As the tradition stands, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman counted down the clock on the 3rd Street Stage, alongside her husband and former mayor, Oscar Goodman.
New Year's Eve live from the Las Vegas Strip Bellagio Fountains - Video
Reporter Aaron Drawhorn near the Bellagio Fountains as hundreds of thousands gather to celebrate New Year's Eve in Las Vegas
Ryan Reaves describes the flavors in Training Day beer
Ryan Reaves talks about the flavor of Training Day, the new beer from 7Five Brewing that was launched at the PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves describes his new beer
Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves talks about his new beer from 7Five Brewing at a launch party at PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' five biggest NYE concerts
Imagine Dragons at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Lady Gaga at The Park Theater at Park MGM, Maroon 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Bruno Mars at T-Mobile Arena, and Tenacious D at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye @bizutesfaye
New American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
Bellagio Conservatory display is Majestic Holiday Magic
Majestic Holiday Magic at the Bellagio Conservatory
Las Vegas Ready for 2019 NYE Fireworks Show
The city of Las Vegas is ready to celebrate "America's Party" with a new and improved fireworks show that will pay tribute to the Golden Knights.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like