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March 2007
An Interview with Mark Wahlberg

An Interview with Mark Wahlberg
By Ife Thomas

Fresh off of his Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Martin Scorsese’s, The Departed, Mark Wahlberg has come into his own proving himself to be a Hollywood heavyweight with real acting chops. His latest role as Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger in Shooter, is his first political thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua and co-starring Danny Glover. Blackfilm.com recently got the scoop on Wahlberg’s film projects, and his newest roles as father and Oscar nominee.

So talk about the physical preparation for this role and everything that it took to become the Shooter.

MW: Well, I always love when I get the opportunity to do something physical until actually two weeks into the production when I’m physically beat up and tired…but, you know these are the kind of things that I live for. They sent me to sniper training, and I’d done a lot of movies where I’d handled a lot of weapons and stuff like that, but certainly not to this extent. But, actually going to sniper school, meeting a real marine sniper who actually worked on the entire movie with us so I could model a lot of the character after him was a tough job. These guys are so disciplined and they’re as smart as they are tough…just don’t mess with them. I bought the guy dinner all the time, (laughs) I did whatever I could! It was really intense, but I wanted to feel believable as this guy so there’s nothing better then for me to have a part where you have to prepare mentally and physically for a good amount of time and dive into the part, block everything else out until it’s over, and hope that you survive it…walk away and never look back.

How was the experience on the red carpet at the Academy Awards?

It was fun, it was awesome. I, like a lot of people who never get nominated, act like it’s not a big deal and who cares anyway. But then, of course, when it happens you’re ecstatic.

Your role in The Departed got you the Oscar nod. How do you make your choices? What’s your process with choosing a role?

MW: Right now it’s about making movies that I would wanna go and see and that people would really enjoy seeing me in. And also I try and do something different everytime, you know I want to constantly challenge myself. But, for a long time the process was, “Ok, it’s a great filmmaker?” Well, I don’t really care about the role or the script I want to work with this person because I know I have a lot to learn and what better way to do it then to work with the best? But, now it’s about going out into the world on your own and taking some risks. If you take some risks you can take some reward.

Does being a dad affect your decisions with what roles you take?

MW: Definitely, definitely. You know a movie like Boogie Nights would be really hard to make now cause I have a little girl. It’s going to be hard to explain anyway (laughs). There’s no avoiding the time is gonna come! But, this movie is a lot easier to explain…so I definitely think about it, but that doesn’t mean that I’m just going to do Disney movies or animated movies and say, “That’s Daddy’s voice!” I try to keep it from them as much as possible and at the right time explain it to them.

Would you do a sequel to this film and play Bob Swagger again?

MW: If we could make it better then the first then, yeah. I’ve never made a sequel yet, but it’s really got to be about trying to make it better. It can’t be about a paycheck, because I love this character.

Well, you’re revisiting The Italian Job character…

MW: Well, we said that we would if we could make it better then the first, and that was four years ago. But they’re still working on the script…it would be The Brazilian Job.

What does your girlfriend Rhea Durham think about this film? Has she seen Shooter?

MW: She saw it and she loved it. She didn’t know what to expect, she’s not really into these movies, but I told her when I went to the test screening women were up cheering when I shot Danny Glover! They were like, “Kill him!” And I thought it was perfect because I always felt like on paper it’s an extremely edgy character and he’s a very serious guy, but we have to find little moments to make a little more accessible to the audience. They’ll be ok with what he does because he was done wrong, but to really have people like this guy and root for him, it’s an amazing thing if you can accomplish that. But women like it, they like blood (laughs).

So is the character Vince on Entourage, the show you executive produce on HBO, going to be nominated for an Oscar now?

MW: He’s gotta pay his dues a little bit more. Maybe the writers will give him that kind of love, but what’s he gonna get nominated for “Aqua Man?” (laughs) He hasn’t done anything serious yet you know? I don’t have to be as involved in the show as much anymore now. I don’t even want watch the dailies anymore, I want to see the cut episodes and laugh like everybody else on Sunday. Early on it was really about putting the pieces of the puzzle together and getting the right people in the right positions (but now) they know exactly what they’re doing. Every once and awhile you gotta make a call to Jermey Piven and tell him, “Step away from the ledge buddy, step away from the ledge,” (laughs) but other then that it’s all good.





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