Kitted out in a suit and tie in a suite at a plush Dublin hotel, hunky actor and producer Mark Wahlberg
looks very much like he’s ready for business.
In fact the Hollywood A-lister IS business, serious business — he’s worth an estimated €115m having produced TV hits like Entourage, Boardwalk Empire, and In Treatment as well as Oscar-winning smash hit, The Fighter.
Now he’s producing and starring in the high-octane Contraband which was a hit in the US and is poised to do the same here.
Wahlberg plays Chris Faraday, a former smuggler turned family man who is forced to carry out one last job when his wife’s (Kate Beckinsale) brother screws up a drug deal. It’s not a huge stretch for the Boston actor, given his own transformation from bad boy Marky Mark, convicted of violent assault in his teens, to the family man he is today.
“I got him right away”, he says of Chris. “Once you have things that you can identify with and relate to it makes it easier and I think it makes it more authentic, more real.” In publicity for this film Wahlberg has been portraying himself as a devoted dad who has cleansed himself of his dodgy past.
It has taken him a long time to be taken seriously, but Wahlberg has more than proven his mettle in the biz from the Oscar nods for The Departed and The Fighter to his impressive acting and producing catalogue. Directing is the next challenge: “I would love to at some point, for sure. I think I’d just find something that calls for me to be the one telling the story. I just don’t know exactly what that is yet.”
Having worked with directors like Scorsese, Peter Jackson, David O. Russell and, M Night Shyamalan, he says he’s learning the ropes. “There wasn’t anybody I resonated more with. I’ve only had one bad experience in 30 something movies so that’s good. And no, I’m not going to say who!”
This could, perhaps, be David O. Russell
, who directed The Fighter but who won’t be back to direct Wahlberg’s planned sequel.
It’s not surprising he wants to cash in on the success of the first film. It bagged Oscars for Christian Bale
(Best Supporting Actor) and Melissa Leo
(Best Supporting Actress) and was nominated for five more.
Whilst Wahlberg starred as real-life boxer Micky Ward, Bale played his junkie brother Dicky, with Bale coming up trumps in the awards stakes. However, Wahlberg doesn’t feel hard done by. “I was much more the driving force behind the movie creatively and, as a producer, getting the recognition was very special,” he says.
Of his subtle, understated performance he says, “That’s how Micky was, especially around his mother and his brother, he was really quiet and Dicky was always, is, this f****** ball of energy and craziness.” He says he’ll make the sequel happen. Some quarters wondered why the film didn’t cover Ward’s three bouts with Arturo Gatti.
“People were saying, ’You cannot make a movie about Micky Ward without his three bouts with Arturo.’ And I said, ’Yes we can.’ And that’s why it won’t really be a sequel. It’ll be very much its own movie.” He’s also working on getting an Entourage movie off the ground, which, he says, will go “back to where the show started, all about the guys doing their thing, acting real crazy.”
He’s not ruling out a sequel to The Departed either. “They talked about it. I’m interested if they can make it as good or better than the first one. That’s not going to be easy. But it has been done before — The Godfather Part II as pretty damn good. We’ll see.”
Contraband is in cinemas now -