Mark Wahlberg would love to direct one day
Mark Wahlberg arrives on the red carpet at the Toronto premiere of the film "The Fighter" in Toronto on Saturday, December 11, 2010. After earning Oscar nominations for his acting and producing, Wahlberg is now open to the idea of directing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrien Veczan
TORONTO - After earning Oscar nominations for his acting and producing, Mark Wahlberg is now open to the idea of directing. It likely won't happen anytime soon, though.
"Directing takes a long time. That's the only problem," Wahlberg, 41, said in a recent interview. "I would love to direct at the right time, on the right piece of material.
"But right now, producing, making the movies that I've made, and fathering four children — it's a lot of plates to be spinning up in the air at the same time."
Wahlberg has become a heavyweight producer in recent years, with credits including the TV series "In Treatment," "Entourage" and "Boardwalk Empire," and the films "The Fighter" and "Broken City," which hits theatres on Friday.
Producing gives him the control he craves, he said, noting if his projects flop he'd rather take the blame.
"I always felt like the good scripts were never coming to me, so I had to kind of create my own destiny, go out there and make things happen, find material, develop things, secure the financing myself," said Wahlberg, who produced and starred in "The Fighter" that got an Oscar nomination for best picture. He was also up for a best supporting actor Oscar in "The Departed."
"Certainly starting in producing television really helped us when it comes to making movies like this, or movies like 'The Fighter' or 'Lone Survivor,' because people just don't spend the kind of money that it would take to make a movie like this anymore," he continued.
"So you've got to come in with that kind of television mentality — have a lot less money and a lot less time, but you've got a great piece of material."
In "Broken City," Wahlberg stars as Billy, an ex-New York City cop who becomes a private detective after an on-the-job scandal. When the city's shady mayor (Russell Crowe) hires him to follow his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Billy finds himself tangled in a web of corruption.
Canadian Barry Pepper co-stars as a councilman who's running against the mayor in an election, Kyle Chandler plays his campaign manager, Natalie Martinez is in the role of Billy's wife, and Jeffrey Wright plays the police commissioner.
Allen Hughes, known for making films with his twin brother Albert Hughes ("Menace II Society," "The Book of Eli"), directs from a script by Brian Tucker.
Redemption is a key theme in the plot twister and it's one that resonates with Wahlberg, who turned his life around after running afoul of the law as a youth in Boston, where he grew up with nine siblings (including "Blue Bloods" star Donnie Wahlberg) in a small home.
"I had to do some redeeming myself," said the former Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch rapper and Calvin Klein underwear model, who now helps at-risk kids through his Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation.
"I can certainly relate to it in certain ways. That wasn't the only reason for doing it. I just felt like it was one of the better screenplays I'd read in a long time and it was a juicy part. And there was a lot of other great, juicy parts, and they could kind of attract the talented people that I would like to work with."
But in attracting such talent, Wahlberg had to apply that aforementioned "television mentality."
"My thing with attracting a lot of the talent in the movie was I just said, 'You know what, I'll share my back end or whatever I need to do to get you. We can't pay you up front but you have a great, juicy role.'
"I (said to) Russell Crowe and whoever else in the movie, 'Please come make this movie with us, and if it's a hit, you'll make more money than you would have if we'd paid ya.'"
Wahlberg still has his signature scrappy spirit (during his recent stop in Toronto, he challenged his pal Tie Domi — a former NHL enforcer — to a friendly boxing match).
And he said he tries to remain "as grounded as possible" these days ("I work when I work, and when I'm not I'm at home"), always feeling like there's a good chance he could lose it all.
"I keep that as a possibility. I think that keeps me focused and working hard and trying to do the right thing," added Wahlberg. "I don't want to let my guard down and feel too comfortable and start becoming complacent.
"Then you start feeling entitled and everything else, and I'm ready to go dig a ditch if I have to."
Wahlberg's other upcoming projects include the film "Lone Survivor," in which he stars as a U.S. Navy SEAL member who survived a dangerous mission to nab a notorious Taliban leader. "It was close to being one of the most difficult that I've made throughout my entire career," he said.
Wahlberg also recently filmed "2 Guns" and said he's developing a couple of docu-series on "regular people" in and around Boston.
And in the spring, he'll start filming his starring role in the fourth "Transformers" film, which he views as "the most important job" he's ever taken on.
It may sound like a lot of work, but to Wahlberg, it's not enough.
"Right now I feel like I'm unemployed," said Wahlberg.
"I just have the mentality of you've got to strike while the iron is hot, it could all be gone tomorrow. Gotta do it while we can."