Finding The Heart of Character While Talking With Margo Martindale About ‘Instant Family’

When you’re watching 700+ movies a year (just for work purposes) it’s not often that a genuine surprise will come around, but when they do you want to hold on to them pretty damn tightly.

Now on DVD, Blu-Ray, Digital Download and On Demand, Instant Family is that kind of movie.  It’s the story of Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) who decide to start a family and uncertain of what to do they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15 year old girl (Isabela Moner), they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must hilariously try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hopes of becoming a family.

Based on a true story and pulled from the very own life of co-writer/director Sean Anders, Instant Family succeeds in being a truly earnest and enjoyable affair because of its genuine honesty in tracking the trials and tribulations of building a family along with a sense of humour about it all that felt truthful to the experience rather than hitting the beats in a generic Hollywood comedy laugh track.

In advance of the films release we got the chance to sit down with veteran actress Margo Martindale who you’d recognize from her roles on Justified (For which she won her first of three Primetime Emmy’s), The Americans & August, Osage County among others.  When I asked her about getting involved with a unique comedy like Instant Family she had this to say.

It’s just a really big family comedy and it’s very authentic which is what ultimately drew me to the project.  It wasn’t comedy that was ‘laid on top’ of the situation, everything in this film really felt organic and authentic.  It came so organically out of the material that it really is a family drama with a fair bit of comedy to it.  They asked me to do it and I thought about it and there was something about it all that just felt so much more genuine and honestly funny then anything that I had read in quite some time.  It was surprisingly funny to me, and I had the time in my schedule so I said “Let’s Do It” and I’m really happy that I did considering how well it all turned out.

There’s a good possibility that there are some of you who are still scratching your heads at who Margo Martindale is, but that’s OK.  She is truly one of the better working actresses today and a genuine “character” actress at the top of her craft.  However that’s not always a label some actor’s like to hear, and when I asked her about it, she had a truly fantastic response.

You know, I’ll tell you something Dave.  I have heard that label before and I’ve always thought…”Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?” (Laughs)  I thought ALL of it was character acting so to be honest I come at it all from an entirely different angle.  I mean I consider Meryl Streep to be a “character actor” she just also has the ability to carry a movie at the same time.  I think it’s pretty weird when you DON’T want to be called a character actor.  I mean I do a voice for a cartoon (BoJack Horseman) where my character’s name is literally ‘Character Actress Margo Martindale’ (Laughs).  So I’m very happy with that label.

A veteran of the stage and now the screen, Margo came up in the business in a very natural way, which can also seem a little unnatural as well since there are people out there who care more about their level of fame in movies and television.  When I asked her about her theatre work and if it’s played a role throughout her career and how she got started she had this to say.

It really comes down to the fact that I just did what I loved, and doing what I loved opened up my world in many ways.  Someone may have seen me in a play, and then I got invite into the movie world.  It really comes down to just doing what you love. 

When little girls will say to me; “I want to be an actress!” I ask them why, and without fail they say “I want to be famous” and then my answer always is “Well, you’re talking to the wrong person” (Laughs).  That wasn’t a motivation that even remotely crossed my mind.  I started doing plays when I was 16 and just kept doing them for about the next THOUSAND years! (Laughs)

Margot Martindale is proof positive that doing what you love will pay off in one way or another and the passion that she brings to every role she takes on (including here in Instant Family) is something to behold.

Instant Family is available now on all major formats for home viewing and is unexpected delight for all.

Dave Voigt

David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf, to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema. Having launched his own home; In The Seats (intheseats.ca) back in 2015 for all the latest and greatest movie reviews and interviews he’s one of the leading voices in the film criticism scene in Toronto, and eventually the world. David is the Entertainment Editor for Addicted Magazine.