In Broken City ex-cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) seeks redemption and revenge after being double crossed and then framed by the city’s most powerful figure, the mayor (Russell Crowe). Billy’s relentless pursuit of justice, matched only by his streetwise toughness, makes him an unstoppable force and the mayor’s worst nightmare.
We asked Mark Wahlberg what took so long to work with Allen Hughes, on his take on playing cop characters, working with Russell Crowe and the next installment of Transformers. Allen Hughes also gives us insight on directing Mark in a fight scene and directing without his brother for the first time.
First off before you read the interview 20th Century Fox has released an extended 60-second TV trailer for the film, which you can see below.
Why did it take you guys so long to work with each other?
Mark Wahlberg: I actually reached out to him after I saw Menace to Society. I remember seeing it in Times Square with a really rowdy crowd, you know people smoking pot. You don’t have too many movie experiences like those anymore, although I did have that at the premiere of Ted. I just expressed to Allen how big of a fan I was and I was really just starting my acting career then. We also ran into each other at a couple of occasions and we’re both at the same agency. I was aware of the script but I hadn’t read it, he read the script and called me and said “I just keep seeing your face when I read this, want to take a look at it?”. So I read it and we meet up and I said “I would love to do it, lets figure out a way to do it on our own so we can have control”. I had a friend who has been trying to get me into his movies for a long time, they were films he was producing and financing. I had said no in the past for various reasons. Finally I told him I have the movie we can do together, go get the money and we’ll make it happen. The script was so good that it just attracted all the talent both in front and behind the camera. Russell (Crowe) read it and responded right away. When I read it I wanted to be the mayor but I was too young so they gave me Billy.
How does your character Billy compare to the other cop characters you have played in the past?
Mark Wahlberg: My Character in The Departed had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. This character is faced with a whole different choice and challenges and I found it really interesting, I could understand what he did in the beginning of the movie and why he did it. You still want to do the right thing for the system to do the right thing and now when he’s faced with this issue of taking down the mayor and helping a lot of less fortunate people even though he’s going to have to risk loosing his own freedom, he’s going to do it. I just love that about him, it’s one of those things that reminded me of when I saw China Town with my dad. Here is a great character, here is a great story and here is an interesting twist and they don’t have a tendency to make these movies anymore, although they all do really well.
Mark tell us a bit about the fight scene with the giant?
Mark Wahlberg: I’m in Staten Island and I’m investigating this guy who is having an affair and I’m taking pictures of him through the window and his neighbor taps me with a bat then he comes out. So I’m about to be attacked by a raging lunatic that’s a giant. So the only thing I wanted to do is make the fight a little more fair so I just shoot him in the leg from behind and I tell him that was an accident then of course he grabs me from one hand and I’m on the ceiling. He’s a very kind gentleman but he doesn’t understand that we where making a movie, he doesn’t know his own strength, he doesn’t know what faking it is at all. I don’t mind making it real when I’m winning.
Allen Hughes: What’s most interesting about it and this happened everyday on this movie. It’s such a dense script as far as the layers, nothing seems as what it appears, everyday was a challenge for me. That scene we were meant to have two nights to shoot, normally you get 80 days to shoot a film but we got 40. So I told Mark look at this dude and we only have a day to shoot it so we thought he needed to have a gun.
Mark Wahlberg: It was written that I did go to the trunk and get a tire iron and that wasn’t going to work.
Allen Hughes: I have to say about one third of the great moments of the movie that weren’t written where moments like that.
Mark Wahlberg: I just thought I’d give you a funny moment. Clearly I was hiding and this guys is coming over and I’m behind him and I point and shoot.
Allen Hughes: That guys was massive.
What kind of scene partner is Russell Crowe?
Mark Wahlberg: We where shooting five weeks before Russell came in and everybody was like what is he going to be like. We had such a great energy and atmosphere on the set and he just showed up and had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, I mean monologue after monologue. He just showed up and walked into the room and Allen asked if we want to rehearse and I looked at Russell and Allen and said “lets do this shit”. The way it was written we had the ability to just go at each other. We tried to outdo each other as characters but not as actors. So we had some really great duals. Crowe just came in and nailed it, it’s nice to see someone who was prepared it was like “Oh some people do care”. I had the same experience working with Denzel, they give you an opportunity to show you what you can do and they always elevate you. It’s hard to make a good movie. Every project that I go into is never for lack of effort, sometimes they turn out good and sometimes they don’t.
Mark can you say anything about Transformers 4 at the moment?
Mark Wahlberg: Just that I had a great experience working with Michael and we hit it off. We complemented each other so well on the set. We took something that was really good and made something really special in Pain and Gain. Then he asked “What do you think about doing this Transformer movie?”. The I asked him what do you want me to do and he told me so I said absolutely. I think this will be the most challenging role that I’ve ever played and it’s an opportunity for me to do something extremely different. It’s going to be very different from the first ones were and I’m excited about it. When I talked to Steven Spielberg and Brian Grazer I told them don’t worry guys this isn’t me taking a pay check and running with it. I like what the guys did with Avengers, when I saw that movie I wasn’t interested at all but it was entertaining for me as well as for my kids. So we want to do something special with it.
Are your kids excited about it?
Mark Wahlberg: It’s the first time they have ever been excited about me and they demand to be in it.
Allen is this a big deal to be making this film solo opposed to making it with your brother?
Allen Hughes: I felt great directing by myself, it’s a natural thing. You have to have one coach, you can’t have the team looking over and seeing two coaches. It can be quite confusing even-though we separate our duties and purpose where I work with actors and he works with camera. Where I suffered were the meetings. We would do our meetings together in Hollywood, there would be a nice amount of people in the room, executives and VP’s and creatively they’re trying to beat you up about how they want the movie. When it was the Hughes Brothers it actually became a different entity, it was like yin and yang. We can have 50 people and we would lay everyone of them down. Now I feel the vultures coming out. On set I felt it much more efficient and natural to be directing alone, it’s a one woman, one man gig and that’s the way it’s always been.
“Broken City” is in theaters January 18th