All right let me start by saying that - the half an hour I was in Mark Wahlberg's company was possibly the most entertaining half an hour I have ever had - listening to someone talk about making films. This guy is the real deal. He's like a character from his TV show – Entourage. I'm sure he gets asked all the time “Is Vinny based on you?” From what I could see he really is Vinny - just funnier, sharper and has bigger arms.
Mark Wahlberg apologised as he strode in waving, he was late and jet-lagged - he left the Detroit set of Michael Bay's Transformers 4, drove to the airport, got lost, got on a plane for 12 hours, checked in to his hotel, had some chicken and came to talk to us. You would never say so – as he was in good form, in fact – it would appear that Wahlberg is one of those guys that can truly pull of the the old chestnut - not on my worst day with aplomb. For some of his funny nuggets of experience listen to the 8 minute audio clip at the bottom of this page.
Wahlberg was in London town to talk about 2 Guns his latest action comedy that topped the US Box Office on its opening. 2 Guns is based on a five-issue comic miniseries from BOOM! Studios written by Steven Grant which re-teams Wahlberg with Contraband Director Baltasar Kormákur and partners him with powerhouse performer and co-star Denzel Washington.
I have to say I quite enjoyed 2 Guns. In a Summer where big budget blockbusters rule the roost it is a refreshing change to see an action comedy that had some excellent performances and a plot that focuses on personality and characters as much as explosions. The cast pull out some genuinely brilliant performances as the film continually twists and turns to reveal a hard boiled old school action detective style story.
Denzel Washington is Robert 'Bobby' Trench, the more experienced and serious "brain" pitted against the younger wise cracking "muscle" of Mark Wahlberg's go getter Michael 'Stig' Stigman. Their chemistry is as spectacular as you would hope it would be. When these stars go up against each other - it's film magic. With their performances providing their characters with the perfect counter balance as foils for each other.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are backed with solid performances from the likes of Bill Paxton, Edward James Olmos and Fred Ward all giving their best performances in years.
|The Establishing Shot: 2 Guns UK Quad Poster (Click to enlarge) - From 2 Guns|
So strong are the performances from the assembled talent that you may be disappointed that the rest of the film as it doesn't quite attain the same heights. 2 Guns isn't a perfect film it suffers from some dire by the numbers action scenes that can be exemplified by one action trope that is so dreadfully conceived that it still sticks in my throat - but then again it could just be me. Even though I like my action as intelligent as the other elements of the film it is based on a comic and looking at its US Box Office takings I think a younger audience will probably love it. More thoughts on 2 Guns can be found here shortly!
Mark Wahlberg (Contraband, Ted) lead an all-star cast in 2 Guns, an explosive action film that tracks two operatives from competing bureaus who are forced on the run together.
But there is a big problem with their unexpected partnership: Neither knows that the other is an undercover federal agent. For 12 months, DEA agent Robert “Bobby” Trench (Denzel Washington) and U.S. naval intelligence officer Michael “Stig” Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) have been reluctantly attached at the hip.
Working undercover as members of a narcotics syndicate, each man distrusts his partner as much as the criminals they have both been tasked to take down. When their attempt to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel and recover millions goes haywire, Bobby and Stig are suddenly disavowed by their respective superiors. Now that everyone wants them in jail or in the ground, the only person they can count on is the other. Unfortunately for their pursuers, when good guys spend years pretending to be bad, they pick up a few tricks along the way.
I had lined up a couple of questions for Mark Wahlberg that included:
- What's it like working with Denzel Washington? One of the finest actors working today?
- What is it about Director Baltasar Kormákur that brought them back together and we can expect them to reteam?
- Given that he has played roles in a diverse range of film types and genres what kind of material excites and interests him?
- And are they different or similar to the kinds of film he enjoys watching?
- I was impressed by the authenticity of the handling and use of guns in 2 Guns was this something thet had to get right, given the title of the film and who did they work with to get this as real as they did?
- How does he strike the balance between producing & acting and which does he prefer these days?
- Could he clarify his involvement and the status of the possible remake of Headhunters?
- Which exercises does he recommend to get a super star lift, on ones pecs?
- What is happening with the Entourage film and what can we expect from it?
Well I didn't get all my questions answered but in the course of discussion with the group Mark Wahlberg went some of the way to answering a lot of them. This is is how it happened:
MARK, YOU HAVE BEEN IN A RANGE OF FILMS FROM SMALL GRITTY INDEPENDANTS THROUGH TO BLOCKBUSTERS WHAT KIND OF MATERIAL INTERESTS AND CHALLENGES YOU AND WHAT DO YOU ENJOY WATCHING AT HOME?
They’re very different from The Departed. One is based on the book American Desperado - who is Jon Roberts, who was featured in the documentary Cocaine Cowboys. That is something we have been developing for a long time. There have been many writers and then Bill just said forget the documentary I just want to base it off Evan Wright's book. And in just eight weeks he handed me the sickest script that I’ve ever read, with one of the greatest characters I’ve ever seen on the page. I actually met Jon Roberts in real life, he's no longer living.
Then something else we’re close to getting off the ground. I'm putting a Director on, right now, so we can do it in January, so I don't want to say anything and jinx it but it's actually a remake, but a very different kind of thing. It won’t be like Planet of the Apes or The Truth About Charlie - this will be a good remake!
Chris Hewitt: Is it Nordic inspired?
Mark Wahlberg: No! But oh man I love that. Have you seen Headhunters?
Craig Grobler : Yea, what's happening with it?
Mark Wahlberg: Development hell, but one of the greatest films I have seen in a long time.
The remake Wahlberg is referring to could be the reboot/remake of Fred Cavayé's French thriller Point Blank given the time frames he mentions but I'm hoping that it may be William Monahan's rumoured remake of Hong-jin Na's Chugyeogja or The Chaser as we know it which would be pretty ideal material for Mark Wahlberg or even possibly Chan-wook Park's Chinjeolhan geumjassi aka Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.As far as movies I like seeing - most of the movies I’m seeing now are kids’ movies because I usually take my kids to the movies, so I’ve seen everything animated. My boys obviously want to see the real [non-animated] movies so they are dying to see 2 Guns, dying to see anything with guys beating each other up. The only thing I don’t like that much is Sci-fi or musicals.
THE DNA OF THOSE GREAT 80s ACTION FILMS LIKE LETHAL WEAPON AND MIDNIGHT RUN RUNS THROUGH 2 GUNS WAS THAT SOMETHING THAT APPEALED TO YOU? ARE YOU A FAN OF THOSE TYPES OF MOVIES?
Mark Wahlberg: Oh! Absolutely, but it goes back to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The movie lives and dies on the chemistry between me and Denzel. It doesn’t matter who’s chasing us; with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid you never really saw who was after them, it was just these guys kind of running around doing their thing. I loved the idea of doing that but you have to have the right person opposite you and Denzel was obviously at the top of our wish-list and we offered to him.
Have a look at this clip to see the chemistry between Wahlberg and Washington that I'm talking about: The Establishing Shot: 2 GUNS CLIP BOBBY TRIES TO GET STIG TO HAND HIM THE CAR KEYS - 16 AUGUST 2013
|Denzel Washington as Robert 'Bobby' Trench and Mark Wahlberg as Michael 'Stig' Stigman in 2 Guns (Click to enlarge) - From 2 Guns|
Thankfully after Flight, he wanted to do something a little lighter. He's actually wanted to be in Comedy for a long time similarly to me. But coming from a dramatic background, it’s very difficult to go into comedy. It’s a risky thing career-wise and if you don’t do it right, it could be a big problem, it can set you back quite a way. He had seen me do The Other Guys and the little bit I did in Date Night. Then Ted which came out while we were shooting this movie, and he was very interested in those numbers!.
He felt confident that I would have his back, it was pretty much the same thing that I went through when I worked with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay on The Other Guys and I knew I would be protected.
|Denzel Washington as Robert 'Bobby' Trench and Mark Wahlberg as Michael 'Stig' Stigman in 2 Guns (Click to enlarge) - From 2 Guns|
Mark Wahlberg: It just happened. We’ve known each other for a while, we’re neighbours and see each other at Sunday brunch with the families and in passing quite often.
We had a great part and a great Director in Baltasar Kormákur who knows me and how I like to work – I like to improvise a lot and constantly throw curve balls at people and he was up for it. He was game and I was game. It's just one of those things that either works or doesn't and it just kind of worked. It's not something you can rehearse.
WHAT WOULD YOUNG MARK TELL THE MARK OF TODAY?
Mark Wahlberg: You can’t give him any advice - he wouldn’t listen! Everybody thinks they know it all at that age, and it’s not until you get older that you realise that you know very little. But through experience, growth, fatherhood and marriage you start to learn things. Having daughters as opposed to just being an ass hole boy. All of those things. It was part of who I was; thank God I survived it and that I had an opportunity to grow.
|Director Baltasar Kormákur on the set of 2 Guns (Click to enlarge) - From 2 Guns|
Mark Wahlberg: I love working with Baltasar. It is rare that a European film maker is hired to direct a comedy. They are always hired to do thrillers and stuff like that, but comedy a lot of times doesn’t translate and there is a language barrier there. But he is an actor first, he's a really funny guy, a really talented guy with action, with comedy and also with budget. He comes from a background of making small independent European films, so giving him just a little bit more - he can make a lot of magic.
We did Contraband for less than what it was supposed to initially cost and with 2 Guns the same thing. It was meant to be one of those $100 million movies that we were able to do for a lot less. He is a guy I trust and is really talented – but it is rare that you see a European Director making an American comedy.
We’ve got a couple things in the works; he just directed a pilot for us at HBO called The Missionary, a cold war spy show – so we are trying to keep him close by.
Mark Wahlberg: That is a serious shift right there. I grew up not having much or at least not being able to identify who the right role models were. They were there but they just weren’t the cool guys. I wasn’t looking up to the guy who dedicated his life to working at the boys club trying to coach or mentor kids, or my parish priest. I was looking up to the guy who had the nice car and the hot girl, or I wanted to be an athlete.
There weren’t too many people who’ve made it out of my community in the way that I was able to. So I’m just trying to inspire kids and create opportunities for them. Motivate inner city kids and at risk youth to have a chance at success. In life, at whatever they choose to do. I certainly feel that if I was able to accomplish what I have, then there isn’t anything they can't do. But that was through hard work and by doing the right thing.
So sending them to camp, paying kids tuition, whatever it is. I’m not like a lot of people; I just have a cause because it's so personal and close to me.
Whilst I appreciate celebrities using their celebrity to bring attention to stuff, but sometimes if it’s just for attention and for them selves as much as the cause, if it’s a self-fulfilling thing then that annoys me a little bit.
It's like you’ve got shit going on in your own back yard and you’re going on about the environment or the ozone layer and then you’re flying around in a jet.
WOULD YOU REVIST YOUR MUSIC CAREER?
Mark Wahlberg: No I wouldn't. You know what actually there might be a time and place for it – but it would have to make sense. I was asked on the spot when they were doing this concert in Boston for the marathon victims and they asked if I would perform and I said absolutely, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to try and boost people’s spirits and raise money for people involved and their families.
They asked if I would perform with the Funky Bunch and it became this whole big thing and the Funky Bunch were rehearsing and they were calling me and I couldn't go because I was shooting a movie!
I can’t tell Michael Bay ‘Hey, look, I gotta go do Good Vibrations!’ He’d be like, ‘Do it on the spaceship dude, I don’t give a shit!’.
Maybe the right time or the right thing, for a good cause or fun, but I don’t miss it that much. There was no discipline with music, when I found movies I became very disciplined. I realised that there was no room for screwing around. I think music always reinforced this attitude of being able to do what ever I wanted – show up late, don't show up at all, go on an hour late. With film there is a lot riding on me, there are a lot of people that make up a movie crew and cast and a lot more responsibility. When I found film it really added discipline that helped me in my life.
|Edward James Olmos as Papi Greco in 2 Guns (Click to enlarge) - From 2 Guns|
HOW DEMANDING WAS THE ROLE OF STIG IN 2 GUNS ON YOU PHYSICALLY ?
Mark Wahlberg: When I was younger I used to get out there and I was pretty much and adrenalin junkie. So I loved all that stuff. But as you get older and a little more banged up – you realise that I’ll do whatever is actually required.
In 2 Guns Denzel and I pretty much did everything ourselves but it wasn’t like either of us were trying to be Joe Cool. I find it so annoying when actors are just talking about how bad ass they are doing their own stunts. Meanwhile these guys spend a few hours in the make-up chair then another hour looking at themselves in the mirror, you’re not that tough dude and I’m not that tough. You want to see tough, go and watch a UFC fight or go to prison – go see tough. But I’ll do what’s required of me.
|Paula Patton as Deb in 2 Guns (Click to enlarge) - From 2 Guns|
Last year was a crazy year for me because I did four movies in the span of 12 months and they were all extremely different. I did a film called Broken City and the director wanted me to be as thin as possible and I was already flirting with the idea of doing Pain & Gain so I was trying to put on weight. He wanted me to be thin, so I got down to 165 lbs for Broken City and then up to 212 lbs for Pain & Gain. We were starting 2 Guns 30 days after, so I got down to 180 lbs for the start of the movie.
I did that by just playing basketball, changing the supplements I was taking and changing my diet. 30 Days after 2 Guns, I started Lone Survivor – which is a movie based on the true story of Marcus Luttrell, it's about the worst tragedy in the history of the navy seal. He was on the set so I had to really bring my A game for that.
It was the most physically demanding movie I’ve ever done, but also the movie I’m most proud of when it comes to telling that real story. It’s something that I think is going to have an impact on audiences all over the world, it’s not just - saying Go America Go! You meet some unlikely heroes in the movie and you put a face on the people who live in Afghanistan, who were also victims.
Mark Wahlberg: Yea, we had a blast working together - we’d love to work together again. As far as doing a sequel, we’ll see how the movie continues to perform and if audiences really want to see it, I know in the States they have really enjoyed seeing us together.
You’re seeing two guys go at it and they’re a bit more formidable than you would normally see. Usually when you see somebody with Denzel they’re usually behind him like a puppy dog and nobody gets to say shit to him. I’m like… fuck that! I enjoy working with the best and going at the best.
I remember when I was working with Jack Nicholson I said some shit to him he never heard anybody say. Marty was like, hey what are you doing? I was like – I'm doing my thing what the fuck do you think I’m doing? Marty said he didn’t think Jack had ever heard anyone talk to him like that. I said - well Jack can’t kick my ass physically, so I’m not worried about Jack.
|Bill Paxton as Earl in 2 Guns (Click to enlarge) - From 2 Guns|
Denzel was great about it and we have the same sort of attitude towards the work. If he’s great in it but nobody else is good in the movies, the movie is going to suck! So we want everybody to be great.
Bill Paxton is just a powerhouse in the film and he brought so much to the part of Earl. Edward James Olmos was someone we always admired.
We want everyone to be great, the movie only works as a whole because we have a great cast, we have great chemistry and we want other people to shine.
Below is a 6 minute clip from the 2 Guns Press Conference wherein Mark Wahlberg sheds his pearls of wit & wisdom as well as some hilarious anecdotes that wouldn't quite translate as effectively in the written word. Please note that you are not hearing the whole discussion these are sound bites somewhat out of context not intended to offend, they are a bit of good natured adult ribaldry.
Click play to hear Mark talk about his friendship with Denzel Washington, both Bruce Willis' music and his own, working with Michael Bay, his first visit to London, working with Jack Nicholson, on using props acting, on advice to his younger self, his welcome to Boston when he steps off a plane, on working with Jack Reynor, on offending people, on his friend Howard Thorpe, on the untitled Transformers sequel, on the real Turtle.
2 Guns blaze their ways into cinemas from this Friday 16 August some thoughts on it can be found here shortly!
A DEA agent and a naval intelligence officer find themselves on the run after a botched attempt to infiltrate a drug cartel. While fleeing, they learn the secret of their shaky alliance: Neither knew that the other was an undercover agent.
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos
The Establishing Shot: MARK WAHLBERG TALKS 2 GUNS – WORKING WITH DENZEL WASHINGTON, POSSIBLE SEQUELS, TELLS US WHAT HE HAS IN THE PIPELINE POSSIBLY A CHASER REMAKE? & UPDATES ON HEADHUNTERS KIND OF! – MARK WAHLBERG IN CONVERSATION
|Craig is a retired superhero, an obsessive hobbyist, comics fan, gadget lover & flâneur who knows an unhealthy amount about Ian Fleming's James Bond.|
When not watching or making films he takes pictures, eats, drinks, dives, tries to connect to nature whilst mentally storyboarding the greatest film ever made. He also & sometimes utilises owl-themed gadgets to fight crime.
A list of his 132 favourite films can be found here! If you would still like to contact Craig please use any of the buttons below: