A Guiding Light: An Interview with Instant Family’s Octavia Spencer

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In Paramount Pictures’ Instant Family, Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne shed light on the power of adoption, the struggles of being instant parents and the hilarity of learning from your failures. Inspired by the real events from the life of writer/director/producer Sean Anders, pours his heart, soul and comedic dialogue into Instant Family, creating an authentic and heartwarming movie that celebrates the notion that family can come from anywhere and anyone.

Academy Award Winner Octavia Spencer, plays Karen, the Wagner’s adoption counselor who, for better or worse, bluntly tells it like it is. Spencer recalls why she wanted to be involved in the film. “First of all, I had seen Sean’s movies, so I knew that I was going to be entertained when I read the script. I did not know that I was going to be moved in such a way.”

She adds, “The director having such a personal attachment to the story is wonderful because he infused it with not just humor but humility. And while you are laughing out loud and sometimes crying you understand the humanity of the story and how important stories like this are. Life is not all drama. It is not all comedy. It is this plethora of everything and that is what’s so beautiful about this story because you run the gamut of emotions.

Spencer explains further why the film subject appeals to her, “At this stage in my life, I want to put material out there that people can laugh from, they can cry from, and just allow for a bit of escapism from their lives, and this script did all of those things.” She continues, “It also made me take stock of the fact that I could possibly do this, I could be a loving parent to a child.”

Working with Anderson, Spencer observes, “He’s so thoughtful. He knows the script inside out, so if you have any questions or anything he can answer it in such a beautiful way. But he also really likes to collaborate in a way that I haven’t ever experienced with a director. I love Sean.”

About Tig Notaro, who plays her co-worker Sharon, Spencer says, “We call ourselves Weeble and Wobble. I think I’m the Wobble to her Weeble, laughs Spencer. Adding, “She has this dry wit sense of humor and I am animated and out there. So, when you have animated and out there and then dry wit it is this beautiful mix.”

Off camera, Spencer says their dynamic is pretty much what you see on camera. “We just developed this instant affection for each other. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time. To finally be able to work with her was great. She brings so much to her role. And it’s hard to elevate something’s that’s already well written. It’s so funny.” She admits, “It’s really hard to do scenes opposite  her because you have to try to stay in the scene and not break.” She adds, “But that’s what’s wonderful about working with this group. They’re all so amazing at what they do.”

On working with Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, Spencer says, “I’m a huge fan of them both. My first day on set was just watching the two of them banter back and forth and it is just like every couple that you see. They’re amazing actors and they have the gift of comedic moments Spencer believes, “You have to inject the humor and at the end of the day they are playing a couple who wants to start a family, and there’s nothing easy about that. Watching them navigate that in a real way is funny and also heartbreaking at moments.”

Instant Family is currently in theaters.

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Dana Abercrombie Entertainment Editor / Media Liaison
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