Mark Wahlberg is one of those powerful forces in Hollywood — he’s an award winning actor and producer and, as he tells us, is looking to direct sometime soon. He’s also got a solid hamburger joint franchise going with his famous family called Wahlburgers. While promoting his upcoming heist thriller, “Contraband” (Jan 13th), we spoke to Wahlberg about everything from the controversial ending to season two of “Boardwalk Empire,” to the development of the sequel to “The Fighter,” to his daughter’s burgeoning love affair with New Kids on the Block.
We hear that since making “Contraband” which has to do with illegal smuggling on cargo ships, you’ve begun developing a reality show based on the same topic in the port of Los Angeles.
Yes. It’s really following all the agencies that operate in there. It’s a whole huge world in there. It’s fascinating. We’re hoping to shoot the sizzle reel very soon though. We just shot the sizzle reel for “Wahlburger.” It’s all about our family business.
How is that going by the way?
Awesome. My brother Paul who does not want to be on camera is the star. My mother is the star and the food is just fantastic. I would’ve never done like that – I certainly wouldn’t have put my name and my brand out there like that if my brother wasn’t as talented as he is. We could do a big opening and a lot of people would show up, but the food is so good, the lines are around the corner. We’re doing more business than any other burger joint anywhere near us.
You’ve worked with family a lot before. What’s been different about working with family in food services?
I think it’s a little bit easier because it’s not my wheelhouse, so I just kind of let him do his thing and I count on all the people that we need, whether it be financing and anything else and handling the deal aspects of all of it and then let him do all the creative stuff. My brother Donnie has been involved and we know that this time we’re going to do the right thing.
January is generally a time when some real stinkers come out in the theaters. What do you say to people to convince them otherwise in getting people to see “Contraband”?
What people are responding to, and why I’m getting all these phone calls and emails from people is because they’ve seen the trailer and they’re like, that’s something I want to see. There’s no guy’s movies coming out right now. There’s been a lot of artsy fartsy awards-type movies and [this] movie is really good. It’s fun. It’s intense. It’s got the humor. It’s gritty. It’s very real. There’s a lot of great actors in it and it’s a really interesting story in the way it’s told. That’s why we responded to it.
What’s the progress been on developing the sequel to “The Fighter”?
It’s really a standalone film. It’s really about the relationship and those battles between Mickey Warde and Arturo Gotti and how after these horrific wars they became such good friends and yet they were still willing to go in there and inflict such pain on each other – and also the damage that those fights caused them mentally and physically afterwards. A lot of people don’t know this, but Mickey Ward trained Gotti for his last fight and they were very close. Mickey had no choice but to love Dickey because he was his brother, but he chose to have this relationship with Gotti. It’s a very unique thing to me.
Is the script written?
Scott Silver and I talked about it and we’re hoping that he’s writing away right now. I’m not getting any younger. When Stallone shot the fifth “Rocky” he was 60. He shot the first one when he was 29. He looked incredible.
The ending of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” which you produce, had a bit of a Christopher Moltisanti-Tony Soprano outcome. Can you talk about making that decision?
Mr. Terry Winter, who is the best writer alive, he thought, he couldn’t kill off — the character who gets killed is a fictional character. Knucky is not, nor is Al Capone or obviously Luciano or any of those guys, so that was the way it had to go. But what an incredibly ending … A lot of people were freaked out by it, but wait until they see the third season.
I’m sure you must’ve heard about what happened with Madonna Badger, the woman who lost her three girls and her parents in a fire in Connecticut. She had worked on your Calvin Klein campaign. Do you know her at all today? Have you reached out?
Oh my god, horrible. I haven’t, but I do remember her. She was instrumental in those campaigns. It’s a horrible, horrible tragedy.
What are you listening to lately?
I just listened to KEARTH 101 or 103.5, the easy listening classics, but when my boys get in the car, it’s Jay-Z and Kanye and Lil Wayne. My daughter’s going to be 2 so she can listen right now – we just listen to the radio versions but my boys are obsessed with hip hop. And my oldest daughter, somehow she got a hold of a New Kids on the Block CD and that’s all she listens to. I remember them and I’m like, oh my god, these are from a lifetime ago. But our nanny, who is a sweetheart, she’s part of our family – she was a big New Kids fan. So she told my daughter about it and she got her the CD and the baseball cards and now she’s got the Christmas album. And I said, hey, listen, Christmas is over this year.