John Lithgow on Daddy’s Home 2: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson and I ‘Called Ourselves The Beatles’

Welcome the greatest foursome since 1970.

While filming Daddy’s Home 2, “we called ourselves the Beatles,” John Lithgow says of costars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson. “We were the perfect balance of four ridiculous characters.”

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In the holiday caper, Wahlberg and Ferrel’s father-stepdad duo attempt to nail Christmas for their kids — only to be thwarted by their polar opposite parents, Gibson and Lithgow (respectively). “For Will and me, our are sloppy, sentimental pushovers,” the actor says. “We completely adore each other. Mel Gibson rolls his eyes like you’ve never seen someone roll their eyes before!”

The dad of three, wed to professor Mary Yeager, gets in the spirit with Us.

Mel Gibson Mark Wahlberg Will Ferrell John Lithgow Daddy's Home 2
Mel Gibson as Kurt, Mark Wahlberg as Dusty, Will Ferrell as Brad and John Lithgow as Don in ‘Daddy’s Home 2.’ Claire Folger

Us Weekly: How are you similar to your sappy character?

John Lithgow: It’s an extreme version of myself to the point of being a complete fool. He never stops talking! He’s so excited about everything. He’s a postman and considers it he most exciting profession. I’d research something like the history of the zip code or the first three post master generals of the United States. I would just go off with all these tiny, little details.

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Us: This cast is stacked with comedians. Did you have a hard time keeping a straight face while filming?

JL: I haven’t laughed this much since Third Rock from the Sun! Everyone just knew what was funny about their characters and it was all perfectly cast. You just can’t imagine anyone but Mel Gibson playing his part. And Will and I had a wonderful sort of comedy thing going. Both characters are very, very earnest and they’re ready to burst into tears with emotion at any moment. It was just hilarious! There was this wonderful feeling like, “We’ve got something great here.”

Us: Favorite blooper moment?

JL: When I first appear, I hurry into my son’s arms and give him a kiss full on the lips. Mark was so mortified by this that I chased him all over the airport threatening to kiss him, too.

John Lithgow Will Ferrell Daddy's Home 2
John Lithgow as Don and Will Ferrell as Brad in ‘Daddy’s Home 2.’ Claire Folger

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Us: What’s it like to kiss Will Ferrell?

JL: It was all business! But, I’ve been paying attention ever since and I have noticed fathers kiss their sons more often than I had realized.

Us: There are countless Christmas movies. Why should people go out and see this one?

JL: It’s a combination of that great, extended dysfunctional family like on Modern Family or Parenthood with really out there, wacky comedy. It’s fueled by the anxieties everybody has some experience with. It’s that old phrase, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in me today.” We put too much pressure on ourselves for everything to be wonderful at Christmas and Thanksgiving. It’s so unattainable. The movie is an expression of that. All the best comedy comes out of anxiety.

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Us: Have you ever had a Christmas catastrophe of your own?

JL: Nothing near this one! There was one completely miserable Christmas when we all had the flu. It was in L.A. and there was a terrible heat wave. After that, my wife and I made a resolution to buy a little cabin in the woods that we can get away to — and we did! It’s now a big part of our lives.

Us: What does your ideal holiday look like?

JL: Movies and a roast beef dinner are a big thing on Christmas Eve. We used to go caroling. It’s likely to happen any time I get together with my extended family. It amazes people that I know the lyrics to the third verse of just about every Christmas carol you can name!

Daddy’s Home 2 is now in theaters.

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