Mark Wahlberg: The Fighter Austin, TX
March 24, 2012 by staff
Mark Wahlberg: The Fighter Austin, TX, Mark Wahlberg talks to THR about the challenge of getting “The Fighter” made and reveals details of his grueling training schedule.
Mark Wahlberg is done proving his toughness. “I’m not the gung-ho crazy guy anymore,” says the 40-year-old actor and producer. Wahlberg repeatedly clocked dudes in the face as boxer Mickey Ward in 2010′s The Fighter, and is now pummeling co-stars as a hell-bent badass in Contraband, a remake of a 2009 Icelandic film. But don’t get Wahlberg wrong; he’s still flexing his muscles—just in more atypical fashion. His most recent feat of strength? Wrapping Christmas gifts for his four children. “The next day I couldn’t get up,” Wahlberg says, laughing.
The family man remains ferociously committed to his work—both as an actor and producer; he recently wrapped the Seth MacFarlane comedy Ted, and is set to produce and star alongside Russell Crowe in Allen Hughes’s detective thriller, Broken City, due in early 2013. With Contraband hitting theaters this weekend, we rang up Wahlberg and learned how The Fighter’s success opened (even more) doors for him in Hollywood, what the future holds for his recently cancelled series How to Make It in America, and how an Entourage movie is just a matter of time.
GQ: What initially appealed to you about Contraband?
Mark Wahlberg: You know, I saw the original and I fell in love with it. I thought, what a cool way to do a heist thriller that has a lot of heart and intensity. I love the character and the way he was able to respond to things and react. He was as smart as he was tough. I just thought it was really cool when I saw it and that an American version would be very entertaining.
GQ: For tax credit purposes, more and more films are being shot in New Orleans. Aside from budgetary reasons, what led to the film being shot there?
Mark Wahlberg: There are other places to shoot that you get tax credits from, but we wanted to shoot a part of New Orleans that you hadn’t seen before. We didn’t want to be on Bourbon St. and we didn’t want to be shooting New Orleans for some other city either. And the port of New Orleans is so big and the same thing with [additional shooting site] Panama. We thought it made a lot of sense. And of course, it was helpful for the budget.
GQ: The city is its own character in the film.
Mark Wahlberg: That was the whole thing. [Contraband director] Balthazar [Kormakur] and I went down there and we really thought, You know what, this could be great.
GQ: After the massive success of The Fighter, did the scripts start rolling in?
Mark Wahlberg: The success of The Fighter made it a lot easier to get Broken City green-lit. And the buzz about The Fighter also made it a lot easier to get Contraband green-lit. You know, we just kind of stay on the same track. We’re reading everything that comes in but we’ve also got some projects that we want to do that we’ve had for awhile that we think can be special.
GQ: The Fighter and Contraband were both physically demanding roles. How’s that 40-year-old body of yours holding up?
Mark Wahlberg: I’m not as young as I used to be. [laughs] I was just putting together Christmas gifts for my kids and my wife bought all these elaborate big trucks, with motors and everything, and I had to put it all together. And I was squatting down for about two hours, three hours. The next day I couldn’t get up. [laughs]
GQ: So wrapping Christmas gifts is more physically demanding than doing your own stunts?
Mark Wahlberg: Exactly. You know, I’m not the gung-ho crazy guy anymore that’s dying to jump off of buildings.
GQ: There’s no reason to do your own stunts unless it adds a sense of realism to the role.
Mark Wahlberg: Guys used to always be like Yo, it’s so cool I did my own stunts. Look, in [Contraband] I did all the stunts and then in The Fighter obviously we did all the fighting and we fought and we made it real. If it’s necessary then we’ll do it.
GQ: It’s not like you have anything to prove physically anymore.
Mark Wahlberg: Exactly.
GQ: Parenting must be the hardest role you’ve ever played.
Mark Wahlberg: Yeah, but it’s also more gratifying than anything. More rewarding. If I succeed in business but fail as a father, then I’ve failed. You know, there’s nothing like seeing the smile on my kids’ faces. Laughing together. Playing. It’s the best.
GQ: Lately you’ve been producing with business partner Stephen Levinson nearly as much as you’ve been acting. Which role excites you more?
Mark Wahlberg: It really depends on the material. I’ve got a pretty wide range of stuff that I’m interested in in life. But producing…it gives me a lot more time at home to spend with my family as opposed to being away on location shooting nights for months at a time. And also it gives you a lot more control, you know? Look, if you’re driving down the highway at 120 miles an hour, I’d rather be behind the wheel than in the backseat. And [Stephen and I] just go with our guts. We’ve been fortunate so far in the choices that we’ve made and we’ve had a lot of success. But we also, you know, are smart in knowing you’ve got to surround yourself with a lot of talented people. This is by no means just us patting ourselves on the back.
GQ: The production game involves a lot big decisions.
Mark Wahlberg: Absolutely. If you look at all the projects that I’ve produced, and a lot of movies I’ve shot that I didn’t produce, most of them in the past 10 to 12 years have been cast by Sheila Jaffe. She’s our go-to person. She cast Entourage, she cast The Italian Job, she cast Invincible, she cast Contraband, she cast Broken City, she cast The Fighter, she cast How to Make It in America. You know, she’s cast a lot of our stuff and she’s a very dear friend of mine. So when we get into it, even if I’m just acting in the movie and I’m not producing it, I’m always trying to get them to hire her. And then we’ll sit down and we’ll have a wish list of who we think will be great. And then we go from there. I just can’t help myself. Also, when you’re producing a movie, you don’t want to force it on a director either. You want them to work with who they feel comfortable with. With Balthazar, he really liked Giovanni [Ribisi].
GQ: Ribisi’s so intense in Contraband. Is he a Method Actor?
Mark Wahlberg: Oh yeah. He’s Method, big time. It’s funny because in the beginning we got the cast together. It’d be Kate [Beckinsale], Giovanni, me, Ben [Foster], Balthazar, and Lukas [Haas]. Ben refuses to rehearse. He doesn’t want to read. He doesn’t want to rehearse. You can talk about it as long as you want. And Giovanni is into the discovery process and he wants to read; he’s trying different accents, he started rolling his hair. And it’s funny because he also worked on Ted with me—the Seth MacFarlane movie we did right after Contraband—which is a broad comedy. And to see him going into that was really awesome, in a very different part, but with the same level of commitment and intensity.
GQ: Would life have been different for you coming up as a star in today’s TMZ culture?
Mark Wahlberg: It is what it is. If you’re smart you’re just gonna be all about the work. But as a young person, you want to be out there, and you’re out going out and going to clubs and doing all that stuff. I’m just glad I survived it. They don’t bother me. I don’t bother them. You just hope that people realize they’re very fortunate to be in that position and not to take that for granted and work hard and stay disciplined. It all comes with the territory. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I don’t wanna hear nobody complain that they’re getting paid all this money and people won’t leave them alone. It’s part of it.
GQ: Two HBO shows you’ve produced—Entourage and How to Make It in America—ended recently. We know Entourage is over but is there a future for How to Make It in America?
Mark Wahlberg: Well, the wheels are always turning and we’ve talked to the networks and we may pair it up with another network. You know, you can only have so many shows on the air [at HBO], but we’re talking about putting it elsewhere. One of the great things is also that we have a couple of things that are really geared toward guys that we’ve been developing that [HBO] feels are really close to going.
GQ: Is there any truth to the Entourage movie rumors? Or is that just industry chatter?
Mark Wahlberg: Oh, no, that’s definitely something that we’re actively trying to put together. We’re just waiting for [series creator] Doug [Ellin] to write the script.
GQ: Had that always been part of the plan?
Mark Wahlberg: Yeah. People were complaining that episodes were too short.
GQ: So what can we expect from an Entourage feature-length?
Mark Wahlberg: I think a 90-minute movie of sheer craziness—the guys getting back to just being about the guys, you know? Lose the ladies. Go crazy. Give people what they want.
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