Casting an actor to play a character’s dad in a movie or television show can be tricky waters to navigate. On the one hand there’s the importance of matching certain genetic features, making sure that actor has some similar features and is age appropriate. Perhaps more important, however, is having a higher understanding of personality and making sure that there are some familiar patterns and mannerisms that can be matched and show link between parent and offspring. In the making of Tammy, co-writer/director Ben Falcone was put in this position trying to find someone who could play his star/wife Melissa McCarthy’s on-screen dad in the final few scenes of the film. This was the start of the path that led him to adding a 20th century comedic icon to his ensemble.
Spoiler Warning: What follows below may very well ruin the ending of Tammy for you if you haven’t seen the movie yet. If you don’t want to have the conclusion of the film revealed to you, I would recommend clicking another article somewhere on the site!
At the end of Tammy, the titular character is released from prison, and after being absent for the entire movie it’s revealed that her father is none other than Dan Aykroyd. Watching the movie, I couldn’t help but find that the match between McCarthy and Ghostbusters star to be oddly perfect, so I was lucky that Falcone was willing to talk all about the casting when I interviewed him the next day.
“There was something in just putting them together,” the first-time director told me. “They both share a sweet kind of quality, and it was nice that when they’re together you see that they really love each other and they don’t see each other that much.”
It was in early in the process that Falcone firmly decided that Aykroyd was the perfect actor to play Tammy’s father, and from there it was about going to the people at New Line and begging them to help him get the original Saturday Night Live castmember on-board. Once the studio agreed, a chain of events was set in action that led Aykroyd to have dinner with Falcone and McCarthy and then sign on the dotted line.
“I’m incredibly aware of how fortunate we were,” Falcone told me. “We try to be super nice people, and hopefully people hear that; people who want everyone to have fun hopefully come together. I was just so fortunate to get such a talented group, and such a lovely group. And that helps too.”
Perhaps what impressed Falcone most about Aykroyd was not just his ability to get a laugh at a moment’s notice, but also properly play the drama and emotionality of a scene. While Aykroyd’s part in Tammy is very light, the director also appreciated that he could inject a degree of verisimilitude as well.
“Dan Aykroyd is a comedy icon and one of my idols of all time, but I also know that he’s an incredibly great actor,” Falcone said. “That was a key... Dan is on the screen for what, 80 seconds? It’s very sweet, it’s very real, it gets a couple giant laughs, and he goes on. It’s just amazing.”
Tammy is currently in theaters.