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Mark of a man!

 

Mark Wahlberg loves doing action-oriented movies, including his latest, Max Payne. Then again, with his delectably good looks too put to demolition purpose (ask the ladies), why not?
NEHA SARIN | Issue Dated: December 7, 2008
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Mark of a man! What is Max Payne about?

Along the way in his investigation of his wife and kids’ murder, Max starts to discover that there is a drug that was created for the military to make soldiers more aggressive in combat. But it is discovered that the test subjects became crazed with the drug. Only one percent of them reacted appropriately so the government stopped using it. But the manufacturers are greedy and realize how lucrative the drug can be and they put it on the street to sell. The drug makes crack look like chocolate. The film deals with corruption within the pharmaceutical industry.

How much of a method actor are you? Is it draining to live a character as Max’s?

It is very draining. I don't go to the furthest extremes of method acting but I definitely get immersed in the story. Having that badge and gun when you are playing a cop makes your life seem a little crazy. My kids of course couldn't understand why I was so emotional while shooting the movie. I would be hugging and squeezing them all the time, every time I saw them, because you can't help but think 'what if?' You know…

Is the realism of a part like Max Payne fuelled by what you have gone through in your own youth and with your own background on the streets of Boston?

Definitely. It wasn't until recently that I appreciated all the things I had to go through to get to where I am now. I have a lot of real life experience to draw from. I've seen other actors who have their methods. They might imagine their little kitty getting killed, run over by a car, there are different tricks they use to get to an intense emotional place, but I feel like I have very real things to draw from. That helps me as an actor and I think that's why people respond to me in such kind of movies.

Why are you so good at playing cops?

Because I've been arrested by them so many times and because there is a very fine line between cop and criminal. I'm not saying that is true of every cop, but some of the guys I grew up with became cops and they did worse stuff than I did. Dealing with criminals you have to understand that mentality. I think the cops are also the ones who have really hard lives.

How tough was the film for you?

It was harder than anything I've done, harder than movies like Fear and The Departed and Shooter – ten times. Most of the action was shot on film with very little CGI (computer generated effects). So anytime you see me flying through the air, I was actually jumping off something or landing on the ground. There is some CGI of course – you can't blow up the roof of a building in the middle of a city but other than that the action is all pretty real.

Any action sequences which were a challenge?

Those aggressive scenes where I am attacking someone are always my favourite. There is a shootout in the pharmaceutical company (where my murdered wife in the film used to work) and that was very, very intense. I've never really been as nervous as I was filming that scene, running that gauntlet with huge explosions. In one scene I have to interrogate Chris O' Donnell's character who is my wife's former boss. He is giving me some very valuable information, but suddenly, corrupt police officers, a SWAT team arrive with the intention of killing both of us. There is a huge shoot out and I have to run down a hallway while the sprinklers are going off. It was extremely slippery on the wet, tiled floor. I was shooting a gun, soaking wet. It was very tough; there were more hits and squibs coming at me than I have ever seen. Obviously we were not using real bullets but the artificial ones are very realistic. I was getting hit everywhere – it was crazy. It sure hurt. Mark of a man! Discuss Max Payne's relationship with Mila Kunis' character.

It is an important relationship but there is no romance. How could a man who is distraught after the brutal murders of his wife and child get involved with another woman? They definitely develop a unique relationship though and she is dealing with a similarly terrible trauma because her sister, played by Olga Kurylenko, is murdered in the movie. But my character is not interested in getting involved with anyone.

Did you do intensive training for the film?

I already have extensive gun training because I have done many films in which I have dealt with weapons. Also, I was already fit because I have been training to do a boxing film for two years: The Fighter (about Boston boxer Micky Ward). I do two hours of boxing training every day, I run, jump rope; there's sparring, weight training, all of it. It's great because for the past three films I have been preparing for this film so I have been in the best shape I have ever been in my life, and I didn't need to worry about losing a beer gut.

How has the Oscar nomination for The Departed changed things for you?

It was great. It was so fantastic to be able to call my mom and my dad and give them the news. For the first time they were in tears because of a good thing I had done, rather than having their hearts broken yet again because I was in trouble, getting arrested and doing something to screw up my life. After the nomination my dad said to me, 'Well now you can consider yourself a real actor'. I think the only way I continue to get the roles that I would like to do is because my films are financially successful but are also well received critically.

Outside work, what are your interests and passions?

I am an avid golfer and it is fantastic to be able to play golf on the most beautiful courses in the world. I have a beautiful home and I like cars. But the most important thing for me now is to raise my children and instill good values. My faith is first, family is second, followed by everything else. Can you elaborate on the work done by your charitable foundation?

I think I am making a difference with my foundation. That is important to me. How can I forget about where I came from? I am lucky that I can help troubled young people in inner cities get better opportunities and improved education. I want to inspire them to do the right thing and live a positive life. Every time one of my films comes out we do a premiere for the kids in the Boston neighbourhood where I grew up.

Would you say that you're driven in your career?

Yes I am very driven, especially now that I have a family, I want to make sure my family and kids are taken care of.

Do you sometimes have to pinch yourself as a reminder of much your life has changed course?

Of course. Every single day the first thing I do when I wake up is to thank god for all the beautiful blessings that have been bestowed upon me. When I pray, I ask for the will and strength and courage and confidence to do the right things in my life. I know I have been put in this position for a reason and it is important not to forget about where I came from. It is my job to help other kids who are in similar situations, who are going through what I went through. Hopefully through my foundation they will be able to pursue their own dreams, just as I have managed to do.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017