Mark Wahlberg Interview For ‘Broken City’
Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) has a promising career as a New York City cop until the night he is involved in a controversial shooting. Stripped of his badge, but kept out of jail by New York’s popular Mayor (Russell Crowe), he re-makes himself as a private investigator. Times are tough, and when the mayor offers Billy $50,000 to investigate the First Lady’s (Catherine Zeta Jones) extra-marital activities, it seems like a straight forward payday. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that the Mayor is not at all what he seems, and for Billy to achieve redemption he will have to risk everything – possibly even his freedom. Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta Jones are joined in ‘Broken City’ by the likes of Barry Pepper, Alona Tal, Chance Kelly, Jeffrey Wright, Kyle Chandler, Justin Chambers, and Natalie Martinez. Directed by Allen Hughes, the film is set for a January 18th release date in the US and a March 1st release in the UK.
What was it that initially intrigued you about this story and this character Billy Taggart? Speaking to you previously on different occasions, you’ve mentioned how much you loved watching crime-thrillers growing up….
Mark Wahlberg: Yeah. The film’s script reminded me of those smart, character-driven crime thrillers that I grew up watching and loving. With ‘Broken City,’ I immediately became engrossed in the story and all the layers and the characters. You’re trying to figure who’s going to do what, and to who? I just thought it was one of those very complicated page turners. I grew up watching this sort of movie with my Dad, and this is the kind of thing that inspired me to become an actor, playing this kind of part. I found the story fascinating, and I love the fact that Billy is unapologetic. He does whatever it takes to right the wrong he committed years ago. From his private detective agency in Brooklyn he watches what’s going on in the city and the life that he used to have, and he misses that.
Billy is an ex-New York City cop who loved his job and did it very well until a controversial incident. Now a private detective, barely making ends meet, he seeks redemption – then revenge – when the Mayor offers him an opportunity. He’s got a complicated relationship with the Mayor…?
Mark Wahlberg: Yeah, in the very beginning of the movie he’s still a police officer. Then you cut to him in Staten Island, basically kind of schlepping around, spying on people who are having extramarital affairs… he’s not happy with what he’s doing (laughs). When he gets the call from the Mayor – which he was promised – he’s thrilled, he’s really excited and optimistic about his opportunities and his chance to get back into the city to make a difference again. And that’s not necessarily the case.
The Mayor thinks his wife is having an affair and he’s worried about it interfering with his chances for re-election. As Billy starts to investigate, he comes to realise there’s much more to this case than a cheating spouse, and that’s when the war between the Mayor and Billy ignites.
Was that something you liked about Billy, his relentless pursuit of justice?
Mark Wahlberg: Yeah, I loved this character. Billy is really good at what he does, but sometimes when the system fails – in a case like the one you find out why Billy was forced to leave the department, sometimes you have to take justice into your own hands. And Billy, he wants that opportunity to remind the Mayor how talented he is, how much he cares. I think he really loves the ability to cross that bridge again, to be in the city, it’s a little bit more exciting and meaningful for him. But as soon as Billy starts to dig, that’s where the Mayor makes the mistake – even though you realise the mayor has another card up his sleeve – because he’s got to do something about this, Billy’s not the kind of guy that’s willing to turn the other cheek, you know? I liked that.
How was it going toe-to-toe with Russell Crowe as the Mayor, with him playing this larger-than-life character?
Mark Wahlberg: Russell Crowe is one of the greatest living actors, and he’s also very charming. On set, he was the Mayor. He certainly charms my character Billy, but once he realises that the Mayor is corrupt, Billy has got to take him down. There’s no more formidable opponent than Russell, and ‘Broken City’ is really about us going at it. Russell is somebody I’ve admired for a long time… and not just living actors, I think he’s one of the great actors of all time. Playing a part opposite him, where we get to go toe-to-toe, I just thought he was such a formidable opponent. Hopefully I rose to the occasion and didn’t disappoint (laughs)!
Look out for a more in-depth interview with Mark Wahlberg for ‘Broken City’ on the site over the weekend.
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