‘Council of Dads’ Cast on the Family’s Relationships & Challenges

Sarah Wayne Callies Michael O'Neill Michele Weaver Council of Dads Preview
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

NBC’s newest drama explores what it means for a family to have its plan thrown out the window after a loving father of five receives devastating news about his health.

In Council of Dads, Scott Perry (Tom Everett Scott) calls on his most trusted friends — Anthony (Clive Standen), Larry (Michael O’Neill), and Oliver (J. August Richards) — to step in as back-up dads to help his family. Together, they discover there’s more to being a family than they ever thought possible.

Sarah Wayne Callies (who plays Scott’s wife Robin) said Episode 5 is one of the best episodes of TV she’s been in when TV Insider caught up with her, Michele Weaver (Scott’s daughter Luly), and O’Neill to get the scoop on the series.

How does Robin feel about the men Scott chose for the Council?

Sarah Wayne Callies: Robin’s initial thought is, ‘I have no idea what he sees in these men. Obviously, one of them is my best friend, and that makes perfect sense. Larry, I hardly know, because Scott and Larry know each other from Alcoholics Anonymous, which is, by definition, anonymous.

Sarah Wayne Callies Michele Weaver Council of Dads Pilot Robin Luly

(Quantrell Colbert/NBC)

Anthony is someone I’m familiar with as someone who sails into town. He and Scott go out and have dinner and have a nice time, but he represents a time in Scott’s life when he was drinking and he was younger and a little bit of a wild man, and so while I love him as somebody who comes into my husband’s life and my husband’s happy about that, I don’t know that I necessarily feel like he’s dad material.

And Luly’s thoughts on these men?

Michele Weaver: Two of them, I’ve known for a while. I’ve known Oliver because he’s Robin’s best friend, and I have known Anthony because he was in and out of my father’s life all through my childhood, but I think it’s really strange to take in. Do these guys replace my dad? Do they not? It’s navigating how much I want to actually take what they say and their advice and how much I don’t because they’re not my dad, they can’t replace him.

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Callies: And you’re grown.

Michael O’Neill: We’re still trying to get through.

What does Scott see in Larry as someone for the Council?

O’Neill: I think he knows that Larry’s trying to do the next right thing, that he’s reliable. He’s awkward sometimes, but he’s honest and if he gives his word, he’ll live up to it.

Callies: He’s a little scary, Larry. He’s a little intimidating.

Council of Dads J August Richards Clive Standen Michael O'Neill

(Seth F. Johnson/NBC)

How do the family’s relationships change as a result of what happens with Scott?

Callies: An interesting thing happens when one of the heads of a family dies. On the one hand, you initially come together with an iron-clad devotion to one another. But family dynamics are built often on a razor’s edge and when you take out the dad who made the jokes, the dad who made the Thanksgiving dinner, the dad who was the one to fix the scraped knees when mom might have been at work, that creates a hole. What’s interesting is that it takes three men to even start to compensate for that hole and how much resentment is there with kids who are like, “they’re not my dad, stop trying to be my dad”?

O’Neill: And it’s wonderfully awkward at times, and yet, I know I made a commitment to Scott, and so I’m going to do my best to live up to whatever that is. Any parent who knows they have a terminal disease, their first thought and their last thought is, “Will my kids be okay?” That’s what he’s tried to do, is to set us up to have a chance at that. And in the process, as a dad in this way, it helps me be okay.

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What are your characters’ biggest challenges other than losing Scott?

Weaver: Luly was alone with her dad for the first eight years of her life, so there’s almost an identity crisis when you lose a person who’s known you your entire life. The most constant rock in her life gets taken away, and you see Luly navigate that. “Who am I? What do I want? Do I want the same things? Did I always want this or was it just because this is the plan I had with my dad?” When someone gets sick, your plans go on the backburner because life is so unknown that you’re just trying to cherish every day.

O’Neill: The compass resets. You gotta find another true north. For Larry’s character, because he lost his first family to alcoholism and Scott’s giving him a chance at a second family, there’s a repair that he wants to make so badly with his own daughter, and they’re teaching him how to do that. I’m beginning to see the possibility of hope for some amend to be made there. That’s going to be the biggest challenge.

Council of Dads Cast

(Jeff Lipsky/NBC)

And how to be gracious with the family because Larry’s old enough to think he knows how to do it right, there’s one way to do it, let’s do it that way. That doesn’t always work.

Callies: Grief is a complicated set of emotions; it’s non-linear and it’s very mercurial. What does it mean when your heart hasn’t moved on but your body has? What happens when you want to have somebody’s arms around you? What happens when you want to kiss a boy? What happens when you haven’t dated anyone in 20 years? That’s a set of questions for Robin that’s really interesting.

I actually have to shout out the writers because when I read the pilot and I fell in love with it, it never occurred to me that they would have the temerity to give a 40-year-old woman with five children a sex life. I just assumed that would go out the window and when they chose to explore that and to ask those questions, even about, how would it affect your kid? How would it affect your own heart? How could you look yourself in the mirror? When do you take your wedding ring off? I never anticipated getting to do something that exciting and delicious, and I’m loving it.

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Council of Dads, Series Premiere, Tuesday, March 24, 10/9c, NBC