When asked about his favorite scenes in the film, actor Jackie Chan mentioned a moment when his character of Bob Ho has a heartfelt talk with his step-daughter-to-be about her parents' divorce. Chan said: "We get to sit down and talk about ourselves. And it's a very touching scene. I think a lot of families have problems like these today and it's important to explore them in movies."
Jackie Chan adapted his stunts to match the character of Bob Ho. He said: "My character is an ordinary spy. He's not a superhero. I wanted to design the stunts so the audience would believe them." Chan said he continually asked himself during filming, 'Can I do this? Can I do that? Will the audience accept it?'."
Hailing from Iceland, actor Magnús Scheving overcame the challenge of speaking English with a Russian accent for his performance as a villain. But at times he found it difficult to communicate with Jackie Chan, who speaks mostly Chinese. Scheving said with a laugh: "There was one fight scene with Jackie where I didn't really understand if I should go closer or backwards, and I got hit right in the face!".
With this movie, star Jackie Chan appreciated the opportunity to try his hand at a family comedy that focuses on his relationship with kids. Chan said: "I really like to make children laugh. I really enjoy hearing from kids that they like my movies."
Once star Jackie Chan got involved with the project of this film, movie film immediately attracted a wide array of talented actors and filmmakers. Executive Producer Ira Shuman recalled: "Everyone on the film - actors and crew - wanted to work on a Jackie Chan film. Not only is he a legend, but his good will, generosity, and charm attracted everyone to the project."
In the case of this movie, production had to move particularly quickly due to star Jackie Chan's limited availability between other commitments. Executive Producer Ira Shuman revealed: "We only had a few months to prep and cast the rest of the film and then shoot it in thirty-eight days." Director Brian Levant admitted: "I thought we were crazy to attempt such a fast schedule. But we somehow made it through snow-storms, the flu, and injuries, and finished the show on schedule!".
About a dozen cast and crew personnel including star Jackie Chan worked on both this film and Chan's earlier spy movie The Tuxedo (2002). The two family-oriented spy pictures were made and released around eight years apart.
Director Brian Levant's enthusiasm for the picture was echoed by screenwriter Gregory Poirier, who was a long-time fan of star Jackie Chan, and who even had previously pitched a film script specifically for Chan to star in during the late 1990s . Poirier said: "Writing for Jackie Chan is a dream come true for me."
A surprise to the filmmakers was young actor Will Shadley, who plays Gillian (Amber Valletta)'s son, Ian. Shadley came to set full of energy and enthusiasm every day. Shadley exclaimed: "I really like working on films. Playing this character I got to unleash my inner geek. I got to use cool spy gear like a belt that turns into a sword. It's pretty cool, but I don't think I'd ever want to be a spy in a real life. There are too many bad guys coming after you."
Having previously worked on a number of family films, director Brian Levant has developed various methods of working with very young actors. But most of his techniques didn't apply to then five year old actress Alina Foley, who played Nora, the youngest of the three siblings. Levant said: "I've worked with a lot of little kids and it's like pulling teeth. With Alina you just turn the camera and let her go, because you don't know what's going to happen with her! She is funny and different and it shows up on screen."
While the film is clearly aimed at a family audience, the film still delivers on the action and stunts that fans expect from a Jackie Chan film. In this case, Chan concentrated on turning suburban settings into places with extraordinary potential. Chan explained: "We are doing 'normal' things in this movie in a typical Jackie Chan style. I like to use the basic things around me for the stunts. The refrigerator, microwave, ashtray. We also wanted to make sure children can see it. I wanted this to be a PG movie."
Stunt co-ordinator Bob Brown led a group of his own stunt men while working closely with Jackie Chan's stunt team, led by Wu Gang. Having worked as both a stunt man and a stung co-ordinator for many years, Brown was impressed by Chan's prowess and pleased with the melding of their two distinct styles. Brown said: "Besides the fact that Jackie is a gift for any stuntman to work with, getting the east and the west to blend together was the most fun for me."
The moment director Brian Levant heard about star Jackie Chan's involvement, he enthusiastically committed to the project. Levant said: "Jackie Chan is a unique talent. He has the ability to do incredible things before your eyes and make it look simple. To him, it is. He is so inventive and energetic. Every day with him is exciting. He knows about comedy as well. He's someone who lets you be loose and natural, and I think in comedy that helps a lot to try different things."
For the part of the girl Ferren, who disapproves of her mother Gillian (Amber Valletta)'s relationship with Bob Ho ('Jackie Chan'), the filmmakers turned to rising star Madeline Carroll. With her then recent performance in the Kevin Costner's Swing Vote (2008), Carroll had demonstrated she was capable of serious work. But with The Spy Next Door (2010), Carroll had the opportunity to explore two new genres simultaneously. She said: "In this movie I got to do action, but comedy as well which was really cool." Director Brian Levant avowed: "I think that Madeline Carroll is going to be one of the top actresses of her generation. She is so interested in the quality of her craft. Everyone was blown away by her."
As it has happened in at least two more titles, the makers of the film sponsored a photo-manipulation contest in Worth 1000 (the well known photo-manipulation site), on which the participants were asked to create photo-realistic images of the world as if it were ruled by spies.
Of the movie's top star Jackie Chan, producer Robert Simonds said: "Jackie Chan is an icon. He's an incredible performer and draws audiences worldwide". Simonds continued: "This is a great role for Jackie. He does all the stunts typical of a Jackie Chan film, but he also gets to bring out his sensitive side. There are a lot of laughs and heartfelt moments."
Star Jackie Chan was instantly attracted to the movie's script and the comic possibilities of his character of Bob Ho's particular challenge which was winning over the distrustful children of the woman he loves.
Playing Colton James, Jackie Chan's partner at the CIA, was actor and country music star Billy Ray Cyrus. Cyrus said: "Every time I approach a new film project one of the first things I look at is the script. A script is like a hit song. It's gotta be on the page to make it to the stage, and I loved the script. It reads like a hit." Cyrus was particularly excited to work alongside Chan and witness his talents first-hand. Cyrus continued: "Jackie's work ethic is exceptiona. The guy is incredible. He never stops. He does everything perfectly and if it isn't perfect, he won't stop until it is perfect. When it's time to break and move to the next scene, he's the first guy picking up equipment, helping the crew. I've never seen anybody that hands on and so prepared." Executive Producer Ira Shuman said: "We were very excited to be working with Billy Ray Cyrus. I was unfamiliar with his acting and just knew him as a singer. He came across very naturally."
Executive Producer Ira Shuman said: "Both Billy Ray [Billy Ray Cyrus] and George [George Lopez] are big stars in their own fields and were very gracious in taking the parts to be involved in this film. Their participation makes the film more accessible to a wide audience."
The filmmakers initially considered casting George Lopez in Billy Ray Cyrus' role of Colton James, but Lopez's unique combination of comedy and mystery made him the perfect choice to play Glaze, Bob Ho (Jackie Chan)'s trustworthy boss at the CIA.
Casting the part of Bob Ho (Jackie Chan)'s love interest Gillian was crucial as the chemistry between them is the reason Bob goes to such lengths to win over her children. Executive Producer Ira Shuman said: "We wanted someone who could play the mother of three children and yet still be a romantic interest for Bob Ho. Amber Valletta fit the bill perfectly." Having a son of her own (Auden Mccaw), actress and model Valletta brought all of her knowledge of motherhood to the part of Gillian. Valletta said: "She's really fun to play. I liked this character. It was a nice departure for me. I really wanted to do something light that I could take my son to see." Valletta also enjoyed the opportunity to work with children. She continued: "Working with kids is fantastic because you don't know what they're going to do. People always say don't work with children or animals because they'll always upstage you, but I loved it. They keep you in the moment."
Gadgets featured in the film included a pair of X-ray vision glasses, a CCTV video wrist-watch, a GPS tracking-device, a detachable man's suit, a remote control door, and a spy case full of various gadgetry.
In search of a director, producer Robert Simonds turned to a colleague he trusted greatly, Brian Levant. Known for such hits as Snow Dogs (2002),The Flintstones (1994), and Are We There Yet? (2005), Levant specialized in family films and had already worked with the producer on four previous projects. Simonds said:"I knew he would be a perfect fit for this film. He's an excellent comedic director and also works extremely well with kids."
Magnús Scheving, the actor who plays Anton Poldark, the nemesis of Bob Ho (Jackie Chan), was familiar to many young viewers as the star of the popular LazyTown (2004) television series. Scheving said: "I'm used to doing a lot of action because of the show I've been doing for the past five years. The challenge for me was to go from playing the good guy to playing a villain. It was really difficult for me to change from being really nice to really mean."