Last week, We Live Entertainment was given the opportunity to attend the virtual press conference for the new Disney Plus film, Cheaper by the Dozen. At the conference stars Gabrielle Union (Zoey Baker), Zach Braff (Paul Baker), Erika Christensen (Kate), Timon Kyle Durrett (Dom), and director Gail Lerner shared some insight on the making of the film and what it was like being part of this remake.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from Gabrielle Union and Zach Braff during the press conference:
On why the Cheaper by the Dozen storyline is timeless
Gabrielle Union: Everyone is born into some sort of family. Whether you love them or you try to escape from them, you’re born into a family. So, literally, everyone in the world can relate to family drama, family fun, and pre-family problem-solving. And more and more, you see these blended families having to co-parent, multi-generational families all living under one roof. This is the norm. I believe like when folks started using the word “traditional,” you know, families, I think that’s just meant to shame. To shame folks for surviving, basically. So, this is a movie that calls all families in. And says, you know what? You will find someone that you can relate to, that looks like you. That feels like your family somewhere in this movie.
Zach Braff: Well said. I also just wanna say that I think so many parents, I’m not a parent but I know so many parents that can relate to the balance of work and being a parent. And, of course, in Cheaper by the Dozen, one of the reasons why people relate to it is it takes it to the extreme. Obviously, it’s a heightened reality. Or it actually did occur for this family who wrote the book. But, so imagine having 10 kids, you know? Every parent that is going how do I balance following my dream and being a good parent? And how do you do both at the same time? The film with humor says, well, imagine you had 10.
On the craziest moments from the set
Zach Braff: I remember one scene. I think it was a big confrontation scene in the kitchen when one of the kids come but I don’t wanna give spoilers either. But I remember as a filmmaker myself just going to Gail and saying “I want you to know, this is the most double-block diamond directing I’ve ever seen.” There are like 11 kids. There are four adults. There are two dogs. Everyone’s fighting with everyone. And the kids are a short time clock because of the union rules. And I just remember going, “I am so happy I’m not directing this.” Even though the kids are wonderful, they’re so little and crazy. And the boys wanna wrestle and touch everything. “What does this light do?” And pull it down, and so, you know, Gail, I think you did a wonderful job. And, also, Gaby and I had to really kind of become parents a bit. Because all their parents’ guardians and babysitters, they all leave when it’s time to shoot. So, Gaby and I had to be like, eh-eh-eh, no-no-no, come back……come on, we’re about to go. We were good cops and bad cops for a little bit.
On creating the family bond
Zach: I think during COVID, it was very tricky. Everyone can relate no matter what your job is. If you had to go to your job during COVID and this was that with 10 children. I know the kids that go to school have to deal with masks and everything. But we had so much testing. The crew had to wear a mask plus a clear faceguard. And then poor Gab has this beautiful makeup on someone who spent a long time making her look, don’t get me wrong, she looks beautiful without makeup, but someone spent hours putting her beautiful makeup on. And then she’s supposed to put a mask on? It was tricky to do plus a movie with 10 kids during COVID. Any movie is tough but that was hard. And then I think people kind of bond through that. Because we’re also so grateful to be working. I felt grateful to just be out and about doing what we love to do. And, I think there was a lot of bonding in that area. Like, let’s not complain, we’re just so happy that we are here. Okay, I’ll deal with the mask, I’ll deal with the face shield. I’m just happy that we get to do this.
Gabrielle: All of us who’ve been trapped in our house. And I don’t wanna say trapped, but we were trapped, so just seeing people in real life is great. I’d be the person at Ralph’s like staring into somebody’s eyeballs because that’s all you get. I was like connect with me. Do you know? [LAUGHTER] Like, are you gluten-free, too? By the time, I actually got to set, you feel free in a sense. And you just want to connect because, you know, after everything that’s happened in the world and we’ve all kind of been in these tiny bubbles, I needed a new audience for my jokes Um, so just getting to know everyone else like super-quickly and just being so happy to be outside. Do you know those memes? “We outside.” Our whole movie, all of us, were very excited to be able to see someone face-to-face. See their whole face.
On life lessons, they learned from the film
Gabrielle: First thing that came to mind was birth control. [LAUGHTER] Um, that’s a lot of kids. Zoey Baker is a lot more patient than I am. She makes a much better lunch. My kids have never heard of a cutie, much less had one in their lunch. I didn’t know it was a thing. Um, these little tiny little oranges. I don’t know what that is. My kids are like, yeah, because you’re you know. [LAUGH] but yeah, there are certain scenes of the movie where Zoey opts to take the high road when faced with some unfortunate adversity. I don’t respond to that in the same way. Like there’s this scene where Erika and I go up to the school. That doesn’t happen in real life. In real life, if I gotta go up to the school, listen, we doin’ this. I’m trying to take a few things away from Zoey and apply them to my own life. I’m sure my children would be thrilled.