Mark Wahlberg and Allen Hughes (Broken City)

Mark Wahlberg and Allen Hughes: The Interview (Broken City)

Actor Mark Wahlberg and director Allen Hughes were in Atlanta promoting their upcoming crime thriller Broken City. We sat down with the two and talked about their experience making the film and working together on set. Broken City stars Wahlberg as ex-cop turn PI Billy Taggart as he is pulled into a case filled with corruption and deceit. 

Shakefire: This is the first time you both have worked together. What was it like?

Allen Hughes: For me, he spoiled me because he’s very collaborative and open and understands a lot about making a film. Also, he’s very respectful to other artists and craftsmen while he’s doing it. He’s just a great team player. He remains calm and has great core vision, as I’ve always said. It was the best experience I’ve ever had with a movie star. There’s my answer, and I’m sticking with it.

Mark Wahlberg: Well Allen called me, and I expressed my interest in working with him years back when we met. He asked me if I read the script as it was on the black list of one of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. I hadn’t but I’d heard of it so I read it right away and we got together. We talked about the various ways to get the movie made and what would be the best route for us, creatively, and we threw around the studio option ideas. I said, “What about getting it independently financed, and you and I can be left to our own devices. Nobody’s going to tell us what to do or what not to do.” I just did that on two occasions, and it was a very gratifying experience. He said great. And that was how it started.

Obviously for him it was harder because this is a movie that should have taken twice as long to shoot and probably had a substantially larger budget, but for me, I had done it a couple of times so it was just the norm for me. But I had a blast. We were just kinda doing our thing. I would obviously my take on what I thought the character was in the scenes and the moments, and then I would also sit down and “just tell me what you want me to do and how you want me to sit or do you want me to stand.” We had enough time to not only do what I thought I wanted to do but also what he wanted me to do. It was a great experience. It’s very unique. Having the luxury and freedom of doing your own this is a rare occasion.

SF: Allen, this is your first time working as a solo director without your brother. What has that experience been like?

AH: It was great. I like new challenges; I like new frontiers. This was definitely something he and I both looked forward to for a long time; him doing his own thing and me doing my own thing and supporting one another at the same time. It was fun for me not to be sitting next to my brother. I’ve been with him for 40 years so you look over and you’ve got a white brother now and then finally I was in the white place in the white time.

SF: There are a lot of twists and turns in the film. When reading the script, did you have those same “oh, shit” moments throughout the whole thing?

AH: Every day for me.

MW: Yeah, that was what was so exciting about it. It reminded me of the movies I grew up watching with my dad in the 70’s. It had a real story and real characters. The screenplay was so good that’s what attracted the likes of the Jeffery Wrights, Barry Peppers, Kyle Chandlers, Russell Crowes, and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ of the world because they had meatier roles. It wasn’t like we could say, “Okay, maybe your quote plus a little bit more,” and lure them with anything other than the material. I certainly offered up a piece of my backend to certain people who weren’t going to be able to get what they would normally get so I could show them good faith and how much we wanted them to be a part of it but it was the material that got everybody there.

SF: You both dropped out of school early and have had your share of altercations in the past. How has that shaped your life today?

AH: I think you got to have real life experience to be a great storyteller anyhow, whether you’re Richard Pryor, a great comedian, or a great actor. The best ones come from the ones that, I mean, if you look back to the good old days, all those great actors they were men. They were boys and men doing real shit that real men do before they became famous. That’s why that’s a dying breed, too. We don’t have a lot of real leading men anymore. So for me, also the dark things is one of the faces, as a craftsperson or artist or whatever you want to call it; that becomes the paint. The paint is what creates the colors I believe.

SF: In today’s market these types of films are either on TV or somebody like yourself has to pull their weight and use their power to get them made. Do you feel an obligation to keep that alive?

AH: I absolutely do. I’ve never done anything other than that. I keep the limited number of movies I’ve done the posters in my garage. I drove in one day. They have this saying in Hollywood, good managers and agents will say, “Two for them, one for you.” I drove into my garage and went, “Well which one did you do for them? I said none. And how’s your bank account look? Empty.” There is a price to be paid. I do sleep well at night, but you know, you got kids and a family and education and health to think about.

MW: Having more success allows you more freedom to take more risks and do things. If The Fighter hadn’t of happened, we definitely wouldn’t have been able to make this movie. That was a $70 million movie that we ended up making for $11 million. Contraband was a $50 million movie that we made for $25 million. That all came from our experience in TV figuring out how to do more with less time and less money. There’s a lot a great television nowadays.

People don’t like taking risks in those jobs because they don’t get to keep their jobs if they don’t succeed. It is what it is. I don’t feel like I have to keep this crusade because it will continue to change and fluctuate. There will be new and exciting filmmakers to come and movies that will be great successes. How many more effects can you create that we haven’t already seen? It’s about telling great stories, and I think we’ll be okay.

You've read the interview, now read our review of Broken City!

Matt Rodriguez
Interview by Matt Rodriguez
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