INT: Mark Wahlberg

“Academy Award Nominee Mark Wahlberg.” Get used to hearing it. The former rapper and underwear model reached a milestone last year with a Best Supporting Actor nom for his performance as a brash, foul-mouthed cop in THE DEPARTED. His new movie, SHOOTER, is Wahlberg’s latest attempt to establish himself as a legitimate action star. While the diminutive actor has done well in ensembles, he’s never proven able to carry a movie on his own. Will SHOOTER finally elevate Wahlberg into the elite category of Hollywood ’s A-List?

He stopped by the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills recently to talk about his latest film. He also gave updates as to the status of rumored DEPARTED and ITALIAN JOB sequels, as well as the next season of "Entourage".

Mark Wahlberg

What attracted you to Shooter?

These are the kind of movies that I love watching, that I grew up watching. We've got a great character-driven action movie that actually has something to say. And it's extremely satisfying. Antoine read it and felt the same way. Luckily, we were able to make the switcheroo. We're probably gonna do that other movie down the line. This one was definitely a no-brainer in my opinion.

Your producers mentioned that you not only memorize your lines, but other actors’ lines as well.

I always make sure I'm prepared. Look, I always felt like I kind of snuck into this business. I don't know how. I just kind of tip-toed my way through and next thing I know I actually found myself having a career. So I've always made sure that I was prepared. I never wanted to show up and not know exactly what was going on. That was a fear of mine. But with this particular material, I just had so much dialogue. It was like five or six page monologues, every other scene. I was like, man, I just got to learn it like a play.

So I would literally take the script everyday and read it out loud, read my lines out loud. And have somebody read with me. I don't know; I guess everybody else doesn't do that. A lot of people showed up and didn't know their lines. Also, I knew that the conditions were gonna be tough and we're dealing with the elements, so the schedule was always subject to change. You never know what they're gonna throw at you. So if they say, "Hey, we're gonna do this big scene on a glacier. Are you ready?" You gotta say yeah.

They also mentioned that you spend a lot of time observing others.

Definitely. The first ten films I did, even more than that, was just to work with the filmmaker and to try to gain as much information and knowledge as I possibly could. I knew coming into the business, it was like, "Ok, another rapper/underwear model wants to be an actor. That's the new thing, to try to put rappers in movies." So I knew that I had an uphill climb, but I just didn't pay attention to it. I knew I had a hard enough time learning to be a good actor, and that's all I concentrated on. I didn't want to use that as fuel because that shouldn't be my motivation. I want to do good work; I want the opportunity to work with good people, and the only way I'm gonna do that is to commit 110%. You get out what you put in.

Is that logic or low self-esteem?

It's logic. It just makes sense. I feel like I'm pretty good but I don't like to toot my own horn, you know? I want to let the work speak for itself and kind of move on to the next thing. People were talking about the Oscars thing. Did I expect it? Why would I expect it? It never happened before. I certainly enjoy and appreciate it and at the same time not take it too seriously. I'm not gonna say, "Now I'm only gonna do movies that I can get nominated for." That's just not how you make your decisions. I wanted to work with Marty, like everybody else. I just felt like it would be too good of an opportunity to pass up, and amazing things happened as a result of it. It's a result of good clean living, too. When people do good things, good things happen to them.

In The Departed, you really stood out as the supporting character...

But that was my world. I know that world better than Marty. They were asking me shit. I could have been a consultant on that movie.

You and Matt also got to use your native accents

What's funny is that me and Matt were talking about doing this movie together now and we had a meeting and I go, "You know how many people come up to me and tell me I was good in the Bourne fucking Identity?" He goes, "Not as many people who come up to me and say how good I was in The Perfect Storm." So we started laughing and, you know...now he's like my brother, so I started opening up to him and it's like...guys in Boston, they could live in different neighborhoods but if they were in jail together then they'll look out for each other. And so I was like, "You know, I always tried so hard to lose the Boston accent; the last thing I wanted to do was play a guy from Boston." And he said he felt the same exact way. And now we're embracing it and we're owning it.

What was it like being surrounded by such a talented ensemble?

It was cool. People were like, "Were you intimidated? Were you nervous?" I'm not scared of anybody unless they can kick my ass. And if they can, then I'm gonna try to strike first. But no, I look at it as a great opportunity to get better and to challenge them and push them, especially in a world where I'm so comfortable. It was like they were on my turf; they were in my hood. So I felt good about it. But at the same time we were all working together. It was just...that's what the role called for anyway. I was supposed to be steamrolling over everybody. But we were all there to work with Marty. Everyone wanted to service his vision and make him happy. And if he was happy at the end of the day with what I did, then I was thrilled. (When) Marty Scorsese comes up and says, "That was great! You were really good in that." Cool. I'm running with that one.

How did the Shooter role stand out for you?

Well, in my opinion he's one of the baddest guys I've seen on film, from reading it on the page. And also, he's as smart as he is tough, and that seems to be a rare thing these days. It was much more like Travis Bickle than it was the Terminator, you know? He was a thinker. He was gonna go and figure shit out -- and he was gonna do some cool shit along the way. And he has something to say at the same time, which I liked. He was about honor and integrity and that's a rare thing.

Kind of like the Bourne Identity.

Yeah, it's kind of like the Bourne Identity, but it's kind of like The Fugitive. It's kind of like Three Days of the Condor. I mean, there are so many movies. Rambo. There are so many movies that you could compare it to.

What was it like working with the Shooter cast?

Oh man. Danny Glover, especially him playing the bad guy. It's just such a great choice. I mean, he's the most loveable, huggable, dad-like giant that you've scene on camera in I don't know how long. And now here he is playing the most evil person in the world. Doesn't raise his voice. Doesn’t need to. Ned Beatty? Come on. Ned Beatty is so awesome. Ned Beatty is old-fashioned, man. Guy shows up prepared. He's gonna throw you some curveballs. You know you're in a duel -- it's happening. And he likes it and he expects you to engage.

Michael Pena is gonna be a star in the future. Elias Koteas. But that's the thing: you got a good piece of material, you know people are gonna show up. People are gonna wanna be involved in it. You get a bad piece of material...you've gotta pay 'em; you've gotta finesse 'em and do all the bullshit. This was just one of those great scripts that came along. I was surprised that it had been around for as long as it was. (inaudible) was telling me that Redford was attached to play a part at one point. I was like, man, how did this one manage to slip through the cracks for so many years? Thank God I was to one who was able to play the part.

Did you get your Under Armor hoodie in Baltimore?

Yeah. God it was cold in Baltimore. But it was awesome to be able to shoot in Baltimore, shoot in Philadelphia, shoot in D.C. Up on the glacier. We were really at all of these places. It was a tough movie to shoot, but we knew the scope of it was gonna be huge. And Antoine shot the shit out of it. I was like, "This guy does not get tired. This is not good." He doesn't sleep. He doesn't eat. And his appearance is always perfect. I don't know how he does it.

I definitely felt like we had all the right people involved and the right people in the right places. It was one of those things that you can only hope that you experience it again a few more times in your career. It's tough to make a good movie. I think the bigger the movies are, the worse they are. A lot of big movies make a lot of money and you kind of forget about what they are and they don't really make you think. In my opinion, it's a very special movie. So I couldn't help but be excited about it, even though I knew I was gonna go and get my ass kicked and Antoine was gonna keep pushing and keep pushing me. I went to bed early; I read the script before I went to bed and I got up in the morning and was ready to go.

What was your firearms training like?

It was intense. Thank God for Sergeant Gary. He was the one who was working on the site in Vegas. We hired him to be the consultant. I actually modeled a lot of the character around him. He was really intense…"You're gonna rehearse that re-load, right?" And I was like, "Sergeant, we're not gonna shoot for two hours and I need a fucking nap." But these guys are as smart as they are tough. It's serious business. I told 'em, I said, "Listen, you could do my taxes too." Mathematical genius, all the things that come into play in making a shot like that.

Did you read the book?

I hadn't read the book until after we made the movie. I didn't even know there was a book. They sent me a script and I was like wow. Of course I got to meet Steven and he came to the set. But like a lot of books that are made into films, I didn't want to read the book and feel like something was missing, because when I read the script I felt that it was a well-written script. You start getting into the book and it's like 400 some odd pages. It's a tough thing to do, adapting a screenplay.

Have you developed as a movie fan? You didn't strike me as a movie buff when you were younger.

I was though. I watched what my dad likes. The first movie I ever saw in a theater was Hard Times with Charles Bronson. I saw Rocky. I'm into movies. I have a newfound appreciation for movies. I remember saying a couple of years ago, "You know, I'll probably do this for another five years and I won't do it anymore." But I was frustrated because I was not getting...not only was I not getting opportunities that I wanted, but they weren't making the kinds of movies that I wanted to go and see.

If I'm doing The Truth About Charlie or Planet of the Apes, it's a great learning experience, but it's not the kind of movie that I would want to see if it came out. I don't really have a connection to it or an interest in it. And then from Italian Job on, even though it was a lighter, commercial movie, it was a fun movie and it was well-written and it was fairly smart. I started to feel that things were looking up. And then I just got bombarded with movies that I would go and see. So now I'm feeling really optimistic about what's ahead. I probably saw around 15 or 20 movies around Oscar time.

Have you developed your tastes as a moviegoer?

Yeah, because I sat through a couple foreign films lately. City of God is probably the best, maybe the best movie I've seen in my life. Certainly the best movie I've seen in ten years. And then I saw Borat, just randomly. My agent told me, "You go. You're gonna love it." I said, "You represent the guy; of course you're gonna say that." But I went. I didn't laugh for the first 20 minutes and then all I tried to do was control my urine because I thought I was gonna piss myself. And it was like, God I've gotta see that movie again.

You gonna do The Brazilian Job?

Only if the script is better than the first. They haven't been able to really get it there yet. But they're working on it, so we'll see.

Seems like people have been talking about it for a long time...

Yeah exactly. We'll see. I've never made a sequel yet. That's one thing that I--

What about a sequel to The Departed?

Only if they can make it better than the first. Marty asked me and I said, "Listen, I'd love to." Bill Monahan told me a little bit about the story, told me I'd be investigating the murder that I committed, which would be fun. And possibly bring in Deniro or someone like that to play like a corrupt congressman. My whole thing is, if we can make it better than the first, then let's do it. Why not? But if it's just for the sake of a paycheck, it's not worth it.

As a movie fan, did you like that movie?

Yeah, although the first time I saw it I was a little freaked out. I saw it with my girl and a couple of friends and people were laughing and I was like, "Wait a second. This is not a comedy. Is this bad? What's going on here?" And then I saw it with an audience and it was like, thank God. Everybody...they're in on the joke and it's a good thing.

What's up with Ari Gold?

Ari's gonna be back with a vengeance. Comin' back this year. I cannot wait. The guys are shooting now. They're in Aspen shooting. And they're gonna be shooting in Cannes. It's the one job...everybody says it's so glamorous to work in Hollywood. I'm always in the middle of nowhere. I'm in the mountains somewhere with no cell phone service. These guys are at Sundance. They're in Aspen right now. That's the one place where it is what it looks like. It's a lot of fun. They're living the lives. They really are.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com



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