Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg Call 'Daddy's Home' a Love Letter to Stepfathers

Competition is fierce between hunky bad boy Mark Wahlberg as a freeloading biological father who returns to the roost win the affection of his children and ex, who now have a dull but loving stepfather and husband in Will Ferrell’s uptight media executive in “Daddy’s Home.”

It is a love letter to step-fathers everywhere, the actors tell Made in Hollywood.

“The long misunderstood step-father is no longer the villain,” Ferrell explains, adding, “Still the punching bag, but not the villain.”

Photos: Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell Hit the Red Carpet for ‘Daddy’s Home’

In the comedy, opening Christmas Day, the pair go toe-to-toe trying to outdo one another to impress their easily-bought youngsters and the brood’s oblivious mother.

Ferrell describes his witless step-father character as a “sensitive diplomat” who sabotaged himself by letting Wahlberg’s slacker dad enter his blissful life. “I’m willing to bring back Dusty, a deadbeat dad, into the fold as a teaching exercise,” Ferrell explains, “but it blows up in my face.”

“He’s not a deadbeat dad,” snaps Wahlberg, “but he’s a little bit noncommittal. Once he realizes that his wife (actress Linda Cardellini) had moved on and now remarried, he comes back to reclaim his family and what’s rightfully his.”

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Even offscreen, the banter between Ferrell and Wahlberg–with their polarizing personalities–played out with hilarity. It’s a connection they discovered while starring opposite each other in the 2010 cop comedy “The Other Guys.”

“Opposites attract,” Ferrell says. “This is a different story but we saw what worked and applied that here.”

Indeed, Ferrell’s doughy figure is often played for laughs while Wahlberg’s fit physique has helped him maintain his heartthrob status. In “Daddy’s Home,” Wahlberg’s six-pack is flaunted in a pull-ups routine–a scene that required some discipline during the worst time.

“Unfortunately we were shooting around the holidays,” Wahlberg explains, “so I had to give up some of my favorite things.”

Watch the trailer below.