Burns also wrote the film, which stars Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg

By Jessica Fecteau
Updated January 07, 2016 09:00 PM
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Mike Marsland/WireImage; Inset: Chance Yeh/Getty

When Hollywood screenwriter Brian Burns wrote Daddy’s Home based on his own real-life experiences as a stepdad, he never anticipated comedic legend Will Ferrell playing him in the film.

“I’m such a huge Will Ferrell fan,” Burns tells PEOPLE. “One of my first dates with my wife Kelly was to see Elf and I can remember coming out of that movie and my dream was to write a Will Ferrell movie. So to get to do that was already a dream come true. I never planned on writing a Will Ferrell movie where he’s playing me, so that was sort of surreal.”

The film, which also stars Mark Wahlberg as the rebellious fraternal dad, showcases the competitive relationship between him and clean-cut Burns, going to all lengths for their children’s attention.

“We would end up in these situations where everything I would do at home with the kids – they would go to their dad’s and then he would unravel it,” says Burns, whose brother is Public Morals‘ Ed Burns. “Then they would come back and I would have to unravel what he did. And I would think ‘Oh my God, this is such a crazy dynamic.'”

Burns says Ferrell captured the role perfectly, even taking on some of his own mannerisms and personal style.

“The day I showed up to set and saw him, he just happened to be wearing the exact same shirt that I would always wear around the house. It wasn’t like I gave him this heads-up to wear a blue waffle long john T-shirt,” Burns explains.

“And I had this moment where I was watching the movie, and for the first time, I started to see some of my mannerisms in the performance and the ease of crying is very much a ‘me’ thing,” Burns admits. “I was like ‘Oh my God when we are hanging out, is he observing me and now he’s implementing some of that?’ So I had to laugh to myself. That was a big treat.”