You last saw him in Oscar winner The Departed playing a cop, and now Mark Wahlberg is being framed by the authorities in director Antoine Fuqua’s new action-thriller Shooter. Wahlberg plays Bob Lee Swagger, an honorable and brilliant marksman who is targeted as a Presidential assassin. While on the run from every law enforcement agency in the country, he discovers well kept secrets that can prove his innocence. Now he just has to stay alive long enough to reveal what he’s uncovered.
ComingSoon.net talked to Wahlberg about preparing for his highly physical and intense new role.
ComingSoon.net: Did you really share a beer with that dog?
Wahlberg: Yeah. We shared about 12 that day. It took a long time to do with a lot of different angles.
CS: Did he get worse as it went on?
Wahlberg: Not at all. The more beer he got the better he got.
CS: And you?
Wahlberg: I actually didn’t really swallow that much beer because we had other scenes to shoot that day. But he wouldn’t consistently go and get the beer unless you consistently gave him half of each one.
CS: Were you a fan of the book?
Wahlberg: I hadn’t read the book before I read the script. We were actually going to make another movie. Me and Antoine (Fuqua) were attached to make another film with Paramount. My agent sent me this script and I read it and I said, “Wow, Antoine, you’ve got to check this out.” Then I found out about the book after.
CS: It seems like a sequel could be done for this. Is that something that you’d like to do?
Wahlberg: I certainly enjoyed making the character. This was the last movie that I made and so it’s all very fresh in my head, but I’ve never done a sequel before. It would really depend. If the script was better than the first movie then it’s worth considering, but other than that I don’t know. Most sequels seem to be made for the sake of paychecks.
CS: Speaking of sequels, they’re talking about another “Departed.” What about doing that?
Wahlberg: Yeah. I mean, I said the same thing to them that I said to everyone else. If they can make it better than the first one, then sure. I spoke to Bill Monahan and Marty (Scorsese) about it and Bill has a really interesting take. I thought that it was really funny that I would be investigating the murder that I committed. That could go anywhere. So, like with “The Italian Job,” for instance, we were going to try and make a sequel, but never really got the script where we were all really comfortable with it. So it really depends on the material
and the time period. It would be another fun character to play.
CS: What are the ingredients in a script that make you want to do something?
Wahlberg: Well, right now I’m looking for the kinds of movies that I would go and see, the kinds of movies where I would see a TV spot and go, “Wow. I want to see that.” Those are the movies that I think people want to see me in. I spent a good portion of my career making films, some films that I wasn’t necessarily interested in, but getting an opportunity to work with a certain filmmaker was certainly reason enough to make a choice. I felt like I had a lot to learn and what better way to do it than taking a crash course in working with accomplished filmmakers.
CS: So, between “Shooter” and “Huckabees,” where does that fall in terms of the kind of movie that you want to see?
Wahlberg: Well, “Huckabees” is a different thing. I’m not sure if I would run out and see that opening weekend, but when a filmmaker like David O’Russell says, “Hey, I’m going to write this part for you.” You say, “Okay.” It’s something that was completely original and you kind of take a leap of faith. “Shooter” was just a no-brainer. Everything about it made me want to make the movie. I loved the character and I loved the story. We were looking to do something more commercial so that we can be able to get other smaller and interesting movies made and I thought that it had the best of both worlds in it. It said something. It was a smart character driven piece and not just a shoot’em up film, which I liked a lot.
CS: Did you get hurt at all in this?
Wahlberg: No. Compared to “Invincible,” it was nothing. It was a walk in the park, but getting down to be as thin as I was for the movie, that was difficult. Then of course there was all the mental prep, learning everything that snipers need to know in the short amount of time that we had. It was a lot of running and jumping in this one.
CS: Can you shoot like that now?
Wahlberg: Yeah. I could shoot pretty good before, but I had never gone through sniper training before, and yeah, I can hit a target at like 1,500 to 2,000 yards.
CS: What about the political overtones in this movie? What was your take on the political tone of the film?
Wahlberg: I thought that it was great. I thought that especially if young people want to come in and see me kick some ass and get a little information at the same time, it just kind of makes you wonder if these things are really possible. They go out and ask some questions and demand some answers and if you really want to go make some changes maybe it’ll inspire people to want to go out there and vote and do something.
CS: This is a very violent, R-rated movie. So as a father yourself, how old do you think you should be to see this film?
Wahlberg: Well, it’s easier to explain to my children than “Boogie Nights.” That’s for sure. I’m not going to make any more movies like that. At the right time we’ll have to explain this and it’ll be easier.
CS: Does fatherhood play into your choices?
Wahlberg: Yeah, definitely. I love “Boogie Nights” and I was really worried about what my mom thought and she got it, but my mom is old enough to understand that, A, it’s a movie and that B, it’s just a world that those people live in and they’re just really nice people. But kids can be tough. High school can be like a lifetime and I don’t want my daughter to be subject to ridicule because of the decisions that I made when I was twenty five and really wasn’t thinking straight.
CS: Can you talk about shooting on the glacier and if you were really up there for four days?
Wahlberg: Yeah, we were up there forever. It was scary, and I don’t like flying in helicopters either, and you had to chopper up and chopper down. When the weather came in it was pretty scary.
CS: What part of B.C. were you in?
Wahlberg: We were at Whistler, 7,000 feet about Whistler.
CS: Was that the hardest scene to do in the film?
Wahlberg: Working and keeping a straight face with Levon Helm was extremely difficult and any time after getting shot up until when I get to Sarah’s house was difficult. Playing up the pain makes you feel kind of silly always. It’s like, “What’s going to be seen as real and what’s not?” We didn’t shoot it in order and we were kind of jumping around constantly and being able to go back and look at stuff and remember what level of pain I was in at the time or how close to death he was getting.
CS: What drives (your character), his own moral integrity?
Wahlberg: Yeah, honor. Honor and integrity definitely, and he won’t compromise for anyone. I just love the character. I felt like I hadn’t seen that in a while.
CS: Do you think there is a sentiment that we’re feeling a little screwed over by our government right now?
Wahlberg: Oh, definitely, but that wasn’t – it was great that it worked out like that, but it wasn’t what we were really thinking about at the time. We were just like, “Hey, this is a really interesting script.” We were going out to make a big commercial movie and we thought why not this one, but it’s just like the Anna Nicole thing. Obviously, we shot the movie months and months ago.
CS: Was there any debate about that?
Wahlberg: We didn’t think so. It wasn’t until like yesterday and the day before that we were getting people’s reactions from it and at that point it was too late to take it out.
CS: you have a great relationship with Michael Pena in the film. Was it like that from beginning?
Wahlberg: Yeah, we just clicked. We’re going to play golf on Thursday. Spent a lot of golf time together. I really admire how committed he is to his work. It was a well-written part and a part that I would’ve loved to have played and that I would’ve chased five or six years ago. I thought that we were really lucky to get him because I know he’s already been in some great films in a short amount of time. I feel like I can take some of the credit for his success. He’s gonna be a big star.
CS: Were you involved in his casting?
Wahlberg: Well, we’ve all – they certainly asked me what my opinion was and we certainly read with a bunch of people. I just wanted the best person for the part. I wanted the best possible chemistry between myself and whoever was going to be in the part. We read with a bunch of people and he just nailed it and everyone felt that strongly about him being the guy.
CS: “Entourage” is more popular than it’s ever been. How involved are you with the show?
Wahlberg: Well, I’ve been off doing my own thing. If those guys need my help then they’re screwed. They’re so talented and so it’s really just about putting the right pieces of the puzzle together and kind of between us and HBO kind of getting them to where they needed to be and now they’re off on their own. I can’t wait. I don’t even want to see the dailies anymore. I want to see it on Sunday night like everyone else.
CS: Are you surprised at how much it’s caught on?
Wahlberg: No. We thought that it was going to be a big hit. We always thought that especially with it being on HBO. Initially when I told people about the idea they thought that it sounded like some silly MTV reality show. I was like, “No. It’ll be a traditional sitcom about four guys.” There’s really a guy in the group that everyone can relate to and with HBO we were able to take our time and develop it. The people that we got involved in the show are just super talented, and so it’s just a matter of allowing them to do their thing.
CS: The show came from your stories coming up, and are you now seeing them have their own stories?
Wahlberg: They all have their own stories. Kevin Connolly is going crazy right now. He bought some $2 million house and he’s having all these problems with construction and all this s**t. It’s so funny, but they’re all doing great and they’re all enjoying it.
CS: Your character in “The Departed” was a supporting role. Any reservations about making him the lead in the sequel?
Wahlberg: No. I mean, look, you’re working with Marty Scorsese and Bill Monahan again. If the script is really strong, they’ll bring in someone like De Niro to play a corrupt cop or congressman or senator. No, I don’t have any problem with that.
CS: What if Marty decided not to direct it and someone else came in?
Wahlberg: Like a first time video director? F**k. Let me direct it.
CS: Do you think Marty would have to be there?
Wahlberg: Yeah. Look, I think that would be the smart road to go. Me and Marty are doing a TV show as well on HBO and so I think that we can get Marty back.
CS: Can you talk about the TV show?
Wahlberg: It’s going to be set in Atlantic City. It’s about the mob controlling Atlantic City in the early years, the ’60s and ’70s. Nick Pileggi is going to be writing along with someone possibly from “The Sopranos” writing team. Marty is going to be executive producing it. It’ll be a series on HBO.
CS: How long before that gets going?
Wahlberg: It’s all kind of happening. Marty is really jazzed about it and HBO is obviously thrilled with the idea of working with him. So I think that in the next couple of weeks we’re going to sit down again.
CS: Is there a title yet?
Wahlberg: Not yet, no.
CS: If you had exhausted all legal means to solve a problem do you think that you would be able to take care of it yourself? I’m not asking if you would kill someone.
Wahlberg: It’s Sunday. That’s a Wednesday question. But no, I would hate to be put in a situation where I had to do something like that. God forbid, if something happened to my children or something happened to someone who couldn’t defend themselves. I don’t think that I would be that quick to be reasonable or be so forgiving, but that’s what I’m supposed to do and that’s what I practice.
CS: This being lent, is there anything that you’ve given up?
Wahlberg: Yeah, no meat on Fridays and I haven’t had any beer, but I don’t necessarily try to give things up as opposed to focus on doing better. Being more patient, being more generous, being more honest. Those are the things that I try to do and I remind myself of those things everyday when I say my prayers.
CS: So you haven’t done any films since “Shooter.” What’s next for you in the future?
Wahlberg: Well, hopefully I’m going to be starting this boxing movie in the summertime playing Irish Mickey Ward who was a boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts and Matt Damon is going to play his brother.
CS: Are you ready to get hit?
Wahlberg: I know. On paper it sounds really good and then two weeks into shooting I’m wanting my mommy.
CS: You really challenge yourself physically with these roles. Do you want to keep doing that?
Wahlberg: Well, I promised my trainer who’s my sparring partner that this would be the only boxing movie I did. I’ve been kicking his ass everyday, but certainly while I can I want to do that. I always wanted to be an athlete and so it was a dream to be able to put on an NFL uniform and get out there and play a champion without actually having to spend all the hours in the ring and take all the hits that you have to take. It’s a dream for sure.
Shooter opens on Friday, March 23.