You were such a gorgeous family on screen. How did you bond off-set?
We had a great caterer, and she would bring around little interesting tidbits and treats that we’d never had before. Our first big scene as a family was the dinner table scene. Bridget and I have known each other for a decade now. We did the Sex and The City series together and Serendipity, but you never know what it’s going be like. By then I’d figured out that Selena was a huge star, so I paid extra attention to see if [the fame] was going to her head or if she was demanding. [Basically] all the things I know I would be [doing] at that age if I was a huge star – wanting Cokes at the snap of a finger – none of that was happening. I remember [Selena] was doing a scene that was close up, and I just kept piling potatoes on her plate to try and make her laugh and screw up her lines. And I got Joey to cuss. I asked her mom if she could say the “s-word” and shock the whole crew, and her mom gave the okay. I really wanted to have sixty-eight guys hear a 10-year-old say something really foul.
What’s it like working with young actors?
It’s much different than working with actors who have been doing it for twenty years and have their idiosyncratic behavior. These guys are just fresh and young and there’s no baggage. [Well], Joey has a lot of baggage now. She’s done three or four movies, so she’s an old hand now. I hear the old jokes over and over again.
What about the story attracted you to the role?
[My] agent called me up and said, “You’ve got an offer for this movie, Ramona“. And I said, “What’s it about?” He said, “Oh, it’s a family movie,” but [my agent] has four kids and had read the books and gave it a big endorsement. So I opened the first page [of the script] with a certain expectation that it was just going be a syrupy, G-rated movie. Bridget was already cast by then, so I knew who the wife was going to be. I could put a face to it. [That], and I just liked the story. There were more adult themes about the father getting down-sized and the mom having to go to work and dad spending more time with the kids. It wasn’t just an episode of Dennis the Menace, which I thought it was going be.
After this movie, you’ll be known as the man every child wants as a dad and the gentleman that every woman wants as a husband.
It’s a great compliment, but it’s kind of sad because you have to see a movie with a guy who doesn’t have any kids playing a father and you’re saying, “Oh, I want to be like that guy!”
I hope that when dads see this movie, they want to be a little closer and do things with their kids. I can see that so many of my friends, from a far away perspective, don’t have a close relationship with their kids; they don’t know who they are. Time’s ticking. I always wonder, “How much time do they think they have left to get to know their kids?”