Interview: Mark Wahlberg talks "The Other Guys" and "The Fighter"

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 09:56 Written by  Rick Florino
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Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg speaks about The Other Guys, capping Derek Jeter, the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, playing "Irish" Micky Ward in The Fighter and more in this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor Rick Florino.

Mark Wahlberg never really left Boston. The city's ethos of hard work has been a trademark of the Academy Award nominated actor's career since day one. Wahlberg busts his ass for his craft, and it's evident through his astoundingly intense performances in everything from The Departed to Boogie Nights. There's another side of Boston—that East Coast disdain for sensitivity and straight-for-the-jugular sense of humor—which permeates his grizzled, shoot-first-ask-questions-later performance as Terry Hoitz in the hilarious, The Other Guys.

In fact, Hoitz is the kind of ball-buster you could find in the Bleachers at Fenway Park, and Wahlberg plays him so realistically that the resulting laughs are raw and raucous. While mired in the midst of uncovering a deadly white-collar crime with partner Alan Gamble [Will Ferrell], Hoitz gets to prove he's a lot more than just one of The Other Guys. Even though Hoitz is an NYC cop, Wahlberg had the chance to live every Bostonian's dream by stepping into the character's shoes.

"I get to shoot Derek Jeter," chuckles Wahlberg with a genuine smile. He gets to do a whole lot more, and that's what makes the film so sharp. The normal action stunts are there, but Wahlberg's intensity mixed with Ferrell's idiosyncrasies creates the ultimate comedy duo.

You added a deep emotional element to Terry. For you, is the movie more about Terry becoming a friend than becoming a cop?

Yeah, in my opinion, he's misunderstood. He cared and he had a heart; he just wasn't good at expressing it. Obviously, with the dynamic between his character and Alan [Will Ferrell], they essentially force each other to become more well-rounded. I certainly experienced that having my first daughter. If I had four boys instead of two girls and two boys, I'd probably still be the same jerk that I was [Laughs]. Having a daughter just changes you. It changes everything. I always wanted to play Terry real. I thought that there were a lot of funny things in there, and the humor could come from the fact that this stuff is so absurd and Terry's so passionate about it. It's worked for me in other films that I've done in the past.

It's very tangible too, and it comes across as real.

Well, that's why I'm not doing stuff that I'm not right for. You don't see me in anything like fuckin' 17th century English shit [Laughs].

Were you listening to any music to get into character for The Other Guys?

It's weird because in New York, I'll actually listen to a little bit of hip hop. I don't listen to hip hop out here; I listen to oldies, classic rock and K-EARTH101, which is something I couldn't imagine myself listening to, but it relaxes me [Laughs]. I'm not really riding around with my kids bumping up the radio [Laughs]. I don't necessarily do it to get into character. If I'm the car, I'll turn on the radio though.

What is it about cop movies that fascinates audiences so much?

It's crazy! You've got cop movies and cop shows. There's The D.E.A., NCIS, CSI—whatever the fuck it is; it's all over the place [Laughs]. I don't know, man! I was watching Public Enemies recently. Of course, people were obsessed with crime and crime figures. We're certainly experiencing that now with our new show on HBO, Boardwalk Empire. It's got Lucky Luciano and Al Capone as a 21-year-old driver. He hasn't even become "Capone" yet. I've always been obsessed with it. I always looked up to the bad guy and rooted for the bad guy.

You definitely give Terry that edge in The Other Guys. Cops definitely tread a fine line.

Half of my friends became cops, and the other half are locked up. Any one of them could've went in either direction. It's just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

What's your most important goal with the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation?

You know where I grew up. How can I leave there and forget about where I came from? I've been so blessed. I've been put in this position for a reason, and it's to inspire kids to pursue their dreams, to make things happen and to not take "no" for answer. We want to help kids. We're taking money from people who have it and want to help. We're raising money and sending kids to school and to camp. The most powerful thing for me is to go back home and say to these kids, "Look, I'm from here and look at what I was able to do. I dropped out of school in ninth grade, but when I actually started working hard and doing the right thing, then good things started happening to me." Certainly if I can do it, there's no reason why they can't.

Do you feel like you imbue that Boston edge and realism into your characters? You don't get that from other cities.

Yeah! I met with the Prince of Saudi Arabia and his assistant who was from Hungary. His assistant is really into martial arts and he went to college in Boston. He goes, "Those are the craziest motherfuckers in the world, man. I've been all over the fucking world, and those are the craziest motherfuckers in Boston!" [Laughs] It's so much a part of me. When I've done certain movies like The Departed, I just show up. I learn the words and they let me go off and say whatever I want. All I have is my real life experience. I've never studied acting before. I have all of this real life experience that I think is far more beneficial when playing characters that it makes sense for, obviously. That's all I have to go on. I draw on that.

Is there something poetic and redemptive about Micky Ward's story in The Fighter? It seems like you're really going to have a chance to inspire with this role. Is that something you set out to do?

Oh yeah, big time! Micky, like myself, just went against all odds and made it happen. He wasn't supposed to be the guy. His brother was supposed to be the guy. Talk about making it against all odds…Nobody gave him the time of day, and he just went and did it. The movie is so uplifting in that way. Obviously, there are so many dark things that they've experienced. Micky is such a humble, loving, kind and caring guy too. It was my obsession to have that movie made, and I felt so obligated to bring his story to the big screen.

He is one of The Other Guys too, if you think about it. Nobody expected victory from Micky.

Micky's still there in Lowell too. He's working on movies now; he was a Teamster on Ben Affleck's movie, The Town. He loves his life. The guy was champion of the world, and he never left Lowell. He still has no problem going and doing a hard day's work. As an actor, you've always maintained that work ethic. You can continue to challenge yourself whether it's Terry in The Other Guys or Micky Ward in The Fighter? I don't have a sense of entitlement like, "This is supposed to be my life." I worked really hard to get here, and I appreciate every opportunity and every chance that I've been given. I'm not going to piss it away. If it went away tomorrow, I'd be completely happy with the run that I had. I can go home and live like a king, man. I played Micky Ward in a movie, The Departed doesn't hurt, being Dirk Diggler doesn't hurt back home and now I'm shooting Jeter in The Other Guys [Laughs]. I'm good.

Will you be seeing The Other Guys on August 6th? Leave comments below.

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