David, played by Vince Vaughn, is a 40-year-old slacker: he’s unmotivated in his job as a deliveryman for his family’s butcher business; the mob is leaning on him for an unpaid debt; and his girlfriend is pregnant (and doesn’t want him to be the father).
“It is impossible to be the father of 533 children,” David shrieks to his best friend and lawyer. “It is impossible to be the father of four children,” the friend deadpans in response, wearing a shabby dressing gown while packing his children’s school lunches.
David turns it to his advantage in this feel-good comedy from DreamWorks by secretly helping his offspring as a kind of guardian angel. Simon Delaney, in his first American movie, plays one of David’s brothers, alongside Saturday Night Live star Bobby Moynihan as another brother. Delaney identifies with the focus of parenthood.
“I’m blessed — I have three kids under seven,” he says. “It just changes your outlook on life completely. There’s no greater motivation to go to work than having little mouths to feed. Talking to Vince about it, who has just had his second child, he said the same thing: ‘being a parent is the most incredible thing and the most demanding job in the world’. It certainly helps him in approaching the character in the movie, and mine, too, and Bobby’s. As parents, we all understood the dilemmas David’s character faced.
“He has this opportunity to play this big part in the lives of 533 people. It’s a monstrous task, and one that his character stands up and faces full on. Obviously, there are moments in the movie when things don’t go right for him. Not only is he the father of 533 children, but also he is the father of very different children. If you take a sample of society, within 533 people, you’re gonna have people who have mental health issues, kids who’re struggling with drugs or through their teenage years. The concept of the film is very clever and it’s one that everyone involved in it is very proud of.”
Delaney’s star is in the ascendant, following turns in the TV shows The Good Wife and Touch, and a steady catalogue of TV and theatre work on this side of the Atlantic over the last 15 years, stretching back to Bachelors’ Walk and Marie Jones’s West End hit, Stones in His Pockets.
Later this year, he will appear in the film version of Mrs Brown’s Boys, alongside Joanna Lumley and Judi Dench. Delaney plays Mrs Brown’s useless local lawyer, Tom Crews. After first meeting him, Mrs Brown turns to Buster and says: “I said cheap, but not this bleedin’ cheap.”
Delaney applauds the success of Brendan O’Carroll’s comedy franchise. “Brendan was asked the question why is the show so successful and he said he wrote the show for television’s forgotten audience. Most comedies that are written now are written by the Oxbridge crowd, it’s all observation stuff.
“In the UK, they love their sitcoms, but they hadn’t a show like that for about 15 or 20 years, since the days of Terry and June. And, by Jaysus, has he hit it out of the park.”
* Delivery Man opens in cinemas nationwide, Friday, Jan 10.