Mark Wahlberg, bulging biceps and all, graced Atlanta with his presence last week promoting his new film Broken City. In the film, Wahlberg plays an ex-cop in New York City hired by the Mayor (Russell Crowe) to dig up some dirt on his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Wahlberg and director Allen Hughes participated in a roundtable discussion about the film, and revealed plans for the highly-anticipated Entourage movie. Broken City opens in theaters January 18.
This is the first time you two have worked together. What was that like?
Allen Hughes: Well for me, I think he spoiled me, because he's very collaborative and very open and I think he understands a lot about making a film. Also, [Mark is] very respectful to other artists and craftsmen while he's doing it. He's just a great team player. He remains calm, he's got great "court vision," as I always say. I think it was the best experience ever to have with a movie star.
Mark Wahlberg: Allen called me and, you know, I expressed my interest in working with him years back. We met and he asked me if I'd read the script as it was on the Black List - one of the best un-produced screenplays in Hollywood - I hadn't [read it], but I'd heard of it. So I read it right away and we got together. We talked about the various ways to get the movie made and what would be the best route for us creatively. We threw around the studio option idea, and I said, "Well, what about getting it independently financed? We can be left to our own devices and nobody's gonna tell us what to do." I just did that and it was a very gratifying experience. I got my "guy" to come up with the money. Not as much money as we would like, but enough to get us here in this room today.
This is your first time working as a solo director. Could you describe that experience?
AH: It was great, I like new challenges. I like new frontiers. This was definitely something that [my brother Albert] and I both have looked forward to for a long time - doing our own thing and supporting one another at the same time.... [Mark] is the youngest of nine, so I think that combination maybe filled in some of those voids I might have felt. There was a kinship there instantly that worked for this movie and worked for me. It's fun for me not to be sitting next to my brother, and I've been with him for 40 years. You look over and you got a white brother now. Finally, I was in the white place at the white time. [Laughs]
When you guys were reading the script did you guys have those same "Oh shit!" moments viewers saw?
AH: Every day for me.
MW: That's what was so exciting about it. The movies that I grew up watching with my dad in the '70s had a real story, real characters. That's why the screenplay was so good. That's what attracted the likes of the Jeffrey Wrights, Kyle Chandlers and Russell Crowe, because they had meaty roles.... It was the material that got everybody there.
You guys both make blue-collar films, and you somewhat represent that aesthetic. Do you feel an obligation to keep that alive?
AH: Yeah, I absolutely do. I have never done anything other than that.... And how's your bank account look? Empty. So there is a price to be paid.
MW: Sleep good, though.
AH: I do sleep well at night. You got kids and family, and education and health to think about, and I'm learning a lot from him about the business side.
MW: You gotta handle your business. Having more success allows you more freedom to take more risks and do things. If The Fighter hadn't happened, we definitely wouldn't have been able to make this movie with the amount of money that we got. That was a $70 million movie that we ended up making for $11 million. That all came from our experience on TV, figuring out how to do more with less time and less money.
So can we ask if there is a date for the Entourage movie?
MW: We'll start shooting by May. We just got a second script, which I haven't read yet. We wanna make it great. It's something that is not worth just making the movie just for the sake of making it. And the goal I'm stressing the most is I want it to get back to what the show originally was. We had a lot of great female characters, but the relationships with the other characters became so important to the show. And we need to get back to the guys doing what the guys did. Let them get crazy. So when Ari leaves and takes that job, it's back to getting crazy.
Mark, I don't think anybody would have looked at you, where you were with a troubled past coming out of music, and predicted you would've become this producing powerhouse among actors. Was that something you always had in mind?
MW: I always had it in mind. I'm very proactive and aggressive and hungry. I didn't wanna just sit around waiting for the right part to come to me, and I also had aspirations of producing things that I wasn't necessarily in.... So the first way in was producing television. Once the first show became a success, we learned by accident that producing television prepared us for producing films with less time and less money.
Like, when I have the fight with the guy in the alley after taking pictures of him - that's one of my good friends. He's former military. I flew him in just to beat the shit out of him. He loved the part because he gets to be with this young chick in the beginning of the scene.
AH: It sounds fun, but that dude took a blow to the face, and several blows. I mean he really got his ass whooped.
MW: But that's what he does. He can handle that sort of thing. He's a trained professional....
AH: The guy with the bat? That's another one of his friends.
MW: When I'm having that fight with the guy in the hood, that's another friend of mine.
AH: That was raw.
So your friends get paid to get beat up by you?
MW: They got a stunt bump.
AH: A stunt bump.
MW: Got a nice dinner.
AH: A stunt bump and a stunt lump. [Laughs]
You've both had your share of altercations in the past, how do you think that has shaped who you are today?
AH: I think you gotta have real life experience to be a great story teller anyhow.... If you look back at the good ol' days, all those great actors, they were men, they were boys. Men doing real shit that real men do before they become famous. And that's why that's a dying breed, too. We don't have a lot of real leading men anymore. So for me ... that becomes the paint, the pain is what creates the colors, I believe.
I can see Rushdie's stuff adapting well. Lots of plot to play with.