Disney+’s “Cheaper by the Dozen” is a hilarious family comedy that follows the blended Bakers family navigating a chaotic life while managing the family business. Gabrielle Union meets and marries her costar, Zach Braff. In the film, the two divorceés raise their interracial family with 10 children, pets, an ex-wife, and an ex-husband.
Timon Kyle Durrett plays Dom, Zoey’s superstar football player ex and the father of her teenagers, Deja and DJ.
Atlanta Black Star spoke to Durrett about his childhood upbringing, Dom’s evolution and the importance of portraying Black fatherhood.
The actor recalls growing up with his five brothers and two sisters as the “little brother and big brother.
“At one point, there were 10 total people in our family with pets and all the ruckus, chaos,” he said. “I have five brothers, two sisters. I’m number six of eight. So I’m a little brother and a big brother.”
There were dozens of relatable moments in “Cheaper By The Dozen” for Durrett, including living in a house with multiple siblings who all have “different mindsets and different styles of dress and [want] to do things differently and go to different places.”
The 48-year-old said his upbringing “wasn’t as chaotic because my mom and dad were like, ‘You do what you’re told when you’re told.’ But there still were those times with the organization and trying to juggle all of the things with eight children. It can be fun at times, and it can be hectic at times. I can relate to all that.”
In the new “Cheaper By The Dozen,” Dom struggled with concerns about a white man raising his Black children. Durrett said his character became more “accepting” toward the film’s end of how his children were being raised.
“I think the struggle turns into more of a maturation, where he’s letting down his guard and seeing that this situation that his children are in is actually a good thing,” he noted. “It’s a good thing for him because it allows him to become a more well-rounded, accepting person.”
He said, “It helps him check his ego at the door and to drop his defenses seeing this guy, who’s not necessarily this big strong Black guy with all this money, raising his young Black children. He sees that his wife and her husband have a pretty good grasp on things.”
Durrett gravitates toward Black father figure roles such as in Ava DuVernay’s series “Queen Sugar.” He plays Charlie Bordelon’s ex-husband, who seeks forgiveness after having a child with someone else during their marriage.
“As Davis West in ‘Queen Sugar,’ Davis has to redeem himself after having a very scandal accusation and things come up in his life where he struggled to maintain his family, his reputation, and his career,” he explained. “Whereas Dom is just trying to come back into the fold and show that he’s a good father. He has to get used to a certain level of humility where there’s someone helping to raise his children.”
Durrett noted strengths in both characters. Speaking on Davis, he said, “In one way, I have to redeem myself and be strong enough to check my ego at the door because of what I’ve done.”
He continued, “And in Dom’s case,…he has to prove himself and what he wants to do as opposed to proving that he’s not this horrible guy on the other side.“
The Kenya Barris-created “Cheaper By The Dozen” has more representation and diversity than the 2003 film starring Bonnie Hunt and Steve Martin. Consistent with its initial theme, the 2022 version stresses the importance of family and normalizes diverse family dynamics, noting Union and Braff’s adopted Indian son.