Mark Wahlberg motivated by double duty as actor, producer on 'Broken City'
Wahlberg stars opposite Crowe in new crime thriller
Still enjoying the success of the uproarious summer comedy "Ted," Mark Wahlberg is back with a crime thriller filled with political intrigue with "Broken City" -- proving once again that the prolific actor is unwilling to settle for any one genre as continues to navigate through his very successful career on the big screen.
"I'm always looking for the exact opposite of what I just did," Wahlberg told me in a recent interview. "I've always been told that I can't do any of it, so I'm trying to find ways to do it all and I've been very fortunate when it comes to that."
Opening in theaters nationwide on Friday, "Broken City" stars Wahlberg as Billy Taggart, a former NYPD cop who loses his job after he dodges a controversial case where he was accused of murdering a suspect in the midst of an investigation.
Struggling to make ends meet as a private detective in the seven years after his departure, Billy gets a huge break when the city's powerful mayor, Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe), hires him to investigate his wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who he suspects of having an affair. With an election and a serious challenge from a city council member (Barry Pepper) for the seat, Hostetler fears that his inability to control his private life will derail his chance to get re-elected.
But what seems as a simple job of getting photographic evidence of an affair is much more complicated than it seems. Little does Billy know, he's being used as a pawn in a much bigger plan by Hostetler, who holds on to key evidence from Billy's past that could ruin his future -- leading to an intense showdown between the former allies turned adversaries.
Wahlberg said he feels fortunate that he had a chance to latch onto scribe Brian Tucker's screenplay, a project on Hollywood's infamous "Blacklist" which escaped production until now.
"It was on the best unproduced screenplay in Hollywood. It's so well-written and well-crafted," Wahlberg enthused. "There are so many juicy roles in it. That's why we were able to attract the talents and the likes of Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper and Kyle Chandler. It gave everybody an opportunity to come in and do their thing and be a part of something interesting."
Wahlberg, of course, got an opportunity to do his thing as an actor -- but even more exciting, as one of the film's producers, it gave him the chance again (he's previously produced such films as "The Fighter" and "Contraband") be influential behind the scenes.
"Wearing two hats, being the producer as well as the star of the movie, it's one of those things where I get to do both jobs, yet try to not let one of them interfere with the other," Wahlberg said. "As a character, it was about trying to find a way to becoming this guy and finding a way to relate to him. I really like the way that he had to find a way to confront himself and decide whether or not he's going to do the right thing, even if it means that he has to risk losing his freedom."
As performer, Wahlberg said that he doesn't let producer duties influence his personal sensibilities as an actor. On the flip side, though, he's cognizant of the people he's hired in the capacity of being a filmmaker.
"I always have the entire movie in my head and I'm constantly thinking of ways we can service the movie as a whole," Wahlberg observed. "I want to give everybody else an opportunity to do their best work so we can make something special."
Wahlberg has a great nemesis in the film with Crowe, and while he's long revered the actor as an audience member, he said he's gained a whole new appreciation of the Oscar winner now that he's had an opportunity to work with him.
"Now, I really admire his work ethic as much as his work," Wahlberg said. "When you're dealing with guys who are so professional -- guys like Russell and Denzel Washington (whom Wahlberg stars in the upcoming crime drama "2 Guns") -- seeing what they do and how they do their job, it's inspiring."
Wahlberg, 41, found on "Broken City" that he and Crowe had a lot in common, which made the project all the more exciting.
"We're both meticulous in our preparation, making sure we know every single line of dialogue and every comma and every pause," Wahlberg said. "While we each have our own take on things, we're also prepared to be able to do anything and try anything because it's still a discovery process. We're similar in that way, but the guy has such a gift."
In the case of "Broken City," the discovery was that the character -- not the actor who plays him -- comes first.
"What I loved about it was we had two guys that were going at each other at all costs, so you need to have formidable opponents," Wahlberg explained. "We would never to outdo each other as actors, just as the characters we were playing and service the movie as a whole."
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