Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mark Wahlberg talks to The Telegraph

Mark Wahlberg was interviewed by The Telegraph, here is the article:

Mark Wahlberg, the star of Boogie Nights and The Fighter, might have cleaned up his act – the drugs, violence and the spell in prison are now just distant memories – but the 41-year-old reformed bad boy still flirts with trouble on occasion.

He cites a recent example, involving his wife, former model Rhea Durham, two of their four children and the TV cartoon series Family Guy.

“Now, I had never seen Family Guy,” begins Wahlberg, “but I had figured as it was a cartoon that I could sit down and watch it with my two eldest kids; the oldest is eight.” He figured wrong. “We watched the 150th episode.” Oh dear.

In this particular episode, two of the main characters, Stewie, a talking baby, and Brian, a talking dog, get locked in a bank vault and things get out of hand.

“The baby is locked in with the dog; the dog eats poo out of the baby’s diaper; then they are drinking alcohol; then they get this gun out of a safety deposit box... All this crazy stuff is going on and my wife comes barging in from the other room because she hears all this laughter and she immediately turns the TV off and yells at me for letting the kids watch it.”

Wahlberg looks momentarily sheepish but then leans in conspiratorially and whispers, as if his wife might still be next door, “But my kids and I were like, 'Okay, we want to see that again'. It was really funny stuff.”

In Wahlberg’s defence, the Family Guy viewings were a professional duty. He had just received the script for a movie called Ted, a live-action comedy written by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who also launched the cartoon shows American Dad and The Cleveland Show, and who would direct the film. The film came to Wahlberg via a recommendation from actress Mila Kunis, with whom the actor shot the 2008 computer-game adaptation Max Payne and the 2010 action-comedy Date Night. Kunis has voiced the Family Guy character Meg for more than a decade and has the same agent as Wahlberg.

“The script for Ted came in and was absolutely hilarious,” he recalls. “Then I started watching some of Seth MacFarlane’s work. We met, and we hit it off and so I committed to making Seth’s movie.”

The movie, which opens next month, introduces the audience to a young boy, who, lacking friends, wishes one Christmas that his teddy bear would come to life and be his best friend for ever. He gets his wish. The bear, Ted, becomes a celebrity, then fame passes and we pick up the story proper with a fully-grown boy (Wahlberg) pursuing a dope-hazed and mostly aimless existence with his now quite unruly bear. He is also dating a very attractive girl (Kunis). Ribald adventures ensue; Flash Gordon fans are in for a treat.

“It is a live-action film with this motion-capture teddy bear,” explains Wahlberg. The writer-director, MacFarlane, voices the bear, a knee-high wiseacre whose personality recalls those of Peter and Brian from Family Guy.

“The humour in the movie I guess you could say is similar to Family Guy,” continues Wahlberg, “but Seth is probably pushing things a little bit more in this movie.

"I think it is going to offend more people than Family Guy does but, hey I didn’t write it.” He laughs, “I told them I want that as a disclaimer!”
The film represents something of a departure for Wahlberg. His Hollywood career stretches back almost 20 years but comedies are rare – there’s Rock Star, I Heart Huckerbees, Date Night, The Other Guys but only the latter two are played for straight up laughs, and both are squarely rooted in the action genre.

“I grew up in a tough neighbourhood and it’s cool if you’re playing a tough guy,” he says, “but playing the vulnerable guy or someone who’s not so cool, that used to be a concern for me.”

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Wahlberg grew up in the small town of Dorchester. After his father left when he was 11 years old, Wahlberg, the youngest of five, slipped into a life of drugs and petty crime. At the age of 16, he robbed a pharmacy while under the influence of a hallucinogenic, knocking one man unconscious and leaving another blinded in one eye. He pleaded guilty to assault and was given a two-year sentence, serving 45 days.

The stint in jail changed his life, and upon release he worked hard to find fame as a pop star, recording two albums with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Even as he progressed into film, however, in the wake of his breakout performance as Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 hit Boogie Nights, he struggled at times to shake off the residue of his youth.

“It is no problem playing a bad-ass or a hard guy, I love doing that,” he adds, “but I decided I wanted to be an actor. Too often I have wanted approval from my peers back home and respect from guys in general, but to be a good actor you’ve got to be able to do all kinds of different things and certainly be vulnerable.”

There is no doubt that Wahlberg is most at home when proving invulnerable. His CV is riddled with adrenalin-pumped actioners, like Three Kings, The Italian Job, Four Brothers, The Departed, Shooter, We Own the Night and The Fighter. In some of them, he’s rather good.

He’s a successful filmmaker off-camera, too, executive producing the hit TV series Entourage that ran between 2004-2011 and which was loosely drawn upon Wahlberg’s own experiences in showbiz, and the current HBO Prohibition drama Boardwalk Empire. He also undertook producer duties on The Fighter and his most recent action film, Contraband. An English-language remake of the Icelandic film Reykjavik-Rotterdam, with Wahlberg in the leading role, Contraband scooped almost $100 million at the worldwide box office, a good return on a $25 million budget.

“I just thought that Contraband would be an interesting, fresh spin on the heist thriller,” says Wahlberg of his decision to produce the movie. “Usually these days you have to go outside Hollywood to find something interesting and different.

“There are a lot of really talented filmmakers and storytellers out there.” To direct Contraband, he hired Baltasar Korm├íkur, who was the lead actor in the Icelandic original. Wahlberg smiles. “So for me it was either go and look for interesting material out there, or just do a superhero sequel!”

He hopes his next project might be another English-language remake of a Scandinavian hit – he’s been lobbying for the chance to produce and star in a version of the Norwegian crime-thriller Headhunters, which was based on the best-selling novel by Jo Nesbo, with Morten Tyldum as director.

“I am campaigning to be able to remake Headhunters and also to have that filmmaker direct it with me as producer,” says Wahlberg. “I saw it for the first time and couldn’t take my eyes off it. It’s probably the slickest movie I have seen in ten years.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, his research landed him in hot water again. “I was supposed to pick up my wife and kids at the airport but I couldn’t tear myself away from the film. I was like, 'I need to go get my wife and the kids but I am finding it hard to stop watching this thing’.”

He eventually made the pick up, but it was close. Wahlberg might have cleaned up his act, but he still flirts with trouble on occasion.
'Contraband’ is released on DVD/Blu Ray on Monday, July 16. 'Ted’ opens on Aug 1

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