Linda Cardellini can hang with the clowns. In her breakthrough role as Lindsay Weir on “Freaks and Geeks,” she played the ordinary girl-next-door who gets subsumed into a crowd of misfits, played by future comedic stars of the Apatow-verse. Since then, the 40-year-old actress has taken on more serious roles: a long stint on “ER;” “Brokeback Mountain;” playing self-destructive types on “New Girl” and “Mad Men.”
But with “Daddy’s Home” she’s back to playing the straight center of a dark comedy. As Sarah, she has to deal with both her current, more uptight husband Brad (Will Ferrell), and the father of her children, Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), a badboy who wants to reconnect with their kids, and maybe rekindle thier relationship too. But Cardellini's Sarah — to the actress' delight — is over him.
Given how long you’ve been acting alongside funny people, even as the “straight man,” do you still blow takes by cracking up?
For sure. I think it’s hard for everybody. Sometimes it wasn’t even in front of the camera. Someone behind the camera, even the director, would occasionally have a hard time keeping it together.
I wouldn’t say your character is just a killjoy — the classic shrewish wife who wants the boys to behave.
Sean [Anders, the director] and I talked a lot about this. We wanted to make sure she had more dimensions than a stereotypical wife character. I have no problem, playing the wife, because women are wives and daughters and sisters. I loved how she evolved from her younger days, that she isn’t falling for [Dusty’s] ridiculous badboy charm anymore. And he and Brad were always talking about how wonderful my character is. [Laughs] That made me very happy.