He’s the man that made Ted come to life. Now, Mark Wahlberg is aiming for another comedy triumph in his latest explosive action film 2 Guns.
Starring alongside Denzel Washington, the movie has already topped the US Box Office, overtaking the likes of The Wolverine and Smurfs 2 in its opening weekend.
Telling the story of two operatives from competing bureaus who are forced to run together, but don’t know their partner is an undercover federal agent, when things go wrong, they have to learn to trust each other.
Invited to the London press conference with Mark Wahlberg last week, I wasn’t sure what to make of the star – after all, his career dates back to the days of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and he’s known for ‘saying it how it is’.
But as he casually walks into the room, dressed in a white T-shirt and trainers, apologising for being late and jetlagged (he was on the set for Transformers 4 in Detroit the night before and flew straight over to the UK) it soon becomes clear that this will be a fairly relaxed afternoon with the rapper turned actor.
“I really like [2 Guns] a lot so I’m proud of it, which was why I was willing to, in the middle of shooting Transformers, to fly across the waters to promote it…I see Denzel didn’t come,” he teases with a smile.
Indeed, it’s the pair’s chemistry that really makes the film what it is – a fun action packed comedy.
“The movie lives or dies on the chemistry between me and Denzel,” agrees Mark. “You have to obviously have the right person opposite you and Denzel was obviously on the top of our wish list.”
As Denzel’s first comedy role, Mark reveals that it was actually his own background in the genre that swayed Denzel to say yes to shooting 2 Guns.
“He’d wanted to be in comedy like me for a long time, but coming from a serious dramatic background it’s very difficult to go into comedy,” explains Mark. “It was funny because Ted came out while we were shooting this movie and Denzel was very interested in those numbers. But he felt confident that I would have his back.”
He may have ‘had Denzel’s back’, but there was also a lot of ad-libbing and trash talking on set too.
“I have the utmost respect for Denzel. But for me I don’t get intimidated by him, because I know if I’m working with people who are that great I have a chance to be that much better myself.
“But when you’re playing roles that call for you to trash talk, I do that pretty good. That’s my comfort zone right there!” he laughs. “In real life I call Denzel Sir, but in the movie you know what’s happening!”
As an action based film, there were a handful of explosive stunt sequences – and at the age of 42, Mark claims he still does as many of the stunts that he can.
“In this movie Denzel and I pretty much did everything ourselves but it wasn’t like either of us were trying to be Joe Cool,” he says. “I find it so annoying when actors just talk about how they do their own stunts. It’s like these guys spend an hour and a half in the makeup chair then another hour looking at themselves in the mirror, they’re not that tough and I’m not that tough. You want to see tough, go to prison.
“But I’ll do what’s required of me. When I was younger I was pretty much an adrenaline junkie. But as you get older and a little more banged up you’re like, well I’ll do whatever is actually required.”
Indeed, known in the 90s as rapper Marky Mark, Mark has certainly changed over the years – something that he thanks the movie industry for.
“There was no discipline with music,” he says. “And you couldn’t give that ‘Mark’ any advice, he wouldn’t listen!
“When I found movies I became very disciplined because I realised there was no room for screwing around. Music always promoted this attitude of being able to do whatever I wanted. Show up late, don’t show up at all…Now there’s a lot riding on it and a lot of other people who make up a movies’ cast and crew. So what I found in movies was this added discipline that’s helped me in my life.”
Disciplined indeed. Whilst promoting 2 Guns, Mark is also promoting Pain and Gain and shooting Transformers 4 and Ted 2.
“You know I’m just constantly working!” he says. “But I’m usually looking for the complete opposite of the thing I’m doing or the thing I’ve just finished. After Transformers we’re going to go make a small serious drama. Then I’m going to do Ted 2. Then we have two scripts from the writer of The Departed. One is based on the book American Desperado and the other is a remake of a different kind of thing. It won’t be like Planet of the Apes though; this will be a good remake!”
2 Guns is released in cinemas nationwide this weekend.