As a wife and mother, Australian actress Rose Byrne can relate to the ups and downs families go through. Playing the role of a foster parent in her newest film Instant Family alongside co-star Mark Wahlberg however, was a whole different ball game. “I was pretty naive about the foster system and the adoptive system,” the actress tells WHO.
The blockbuster documents the journey of a husband and wife who decide to take on three foster children and is based on the true story of the movie’s director Sean Anders and his wife Beth, who went on to legally adopt their three children.
Just like Byrne, Anders was clueless going into the process and told Entertainment Weekly: “We were really surprised that we didn’t know anything about it - from movies or from TV."
Like Anders, Byrne (who is already a doting mum to sons Rocco, 2, and Rafa, 1, who she shared with partner of six years Bobby Cannavale) considered the possibility of adoption after becoming passionate about the research for her role.
“It was a very eye-opening experience – all the families I met with and the parents and the kids who had been in the system,” she tells WHO, “the whole thing really opened my heart and mind to doing something like that.”
Reflecting on her own experience as a first-time parent like her character, albeit with a newborn and not three fostered siblings, “It doesn’t come with a manual and no matter how many friend tell you stuff - nothing can really prepare you for it, "Byrne says.
"A lot of my friends didn't really tell me how hard it was and I was like, 'why didn't you tell me?' and they were like ‘I couldn’t’.”
But despite the challenges, Byrne wants to offer hope to other parents. “There’s a bit of a code about not revealing how challenging it can be, which I am now breaking, but it’s also like the most wild, magical thing.”
Giving a little insight into what life is like in the Byrne-Cannavale household, the Peter Rabbit star revealed that life as a mum of two young boys is “completely chaotic”, in contrast to the aspirational, perfect thing” that social media often portrays parenthood to be.
“[I’m] always like ‘don’t hit him’, ‘put down the thing, it’s on fire!’ or ‘you didn’t eat the pasta!’” Byrne confesses, “I’m not by any means a completely in control parent. I definitely am trying to put out fires all the time.”
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- Jenny Cooney Carrillo and Lauren Irvine