A former Blackberry addict, actor Mark Wahlberg looks at my phone and mentions he just bought his first iPhone 5.
"I like it a lot, but I’m still trying to figure it all out," he says from a suite at Setai, a posh hotel in South Beach.
Note to self: if you want to become chummy and impress an A-lister, master all things Apple.
You see, Wahlberg, with his bad-boy charm and tough-guy personality, is the type of man that women swoon after and other men want to befriend. Gone are the rap days, when he showed off his six-pack and his “Good Vibrations.” Wahlberg is a bona-fide actor who manages to avoid tabloid fodder, and can afford to be picky about the scripts he reads.
In his newest movie, “Broken City,” in theaters now, he plays Billy Taggart, an ex-cop hired by a mayor (Russell Crowe) to trail the mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones),who is suspected of cheating on the elected official. He's also one of the producers of the suspenseful flick, and somehow conviced his co-stars to take home a lower paycheck, because the writing was "that compelling."
While in town, he chatted about what drew him “Broken City” and his ties to South Florida.
Q: You seem to be drawn to these parts where you play the tough guy, who at the climax of the movie, has to do the right thing.
A: These are the kinds of movies I grew up watching with my dad. The type of guy I root for is the underdog. The guy that needs to redeem himself, who’s got a moral dilemma, and is faced with some pretty heavy decisions. You know, the guys who are immersed in very dangerous high-stake things – that’s what I’m attracted to.
Q: When you first read the script for “Broken City” what did you think?
A: That I hadn’t read something like that in quite awhile. They just don’t make them like that anymore. It was on the blacklist, which is the best of the under-produced screenplays in Hollywood, but still nobody wanted to pull the trigger. I figured because of the success of “The Fighter” I would find somebody who would put the money down to allow us to take a chance on telling a really interesting story. That’s also how we got all the cast. The cast was attracted to the material. We weren’t able to pay everybody what they wanted to get paid, but they all had these juicy roles that they felt compelled them to be a part of the movie.
Q: Can you elaborate on a time where you had to take a stand and fight for someone or something?
A: I don’t know if I could elaborate on it, but it’s happened many, many times. And again, I find these roles that I can identify with or connect with in a personal way. Recently, somebody was just being rude and disrespectful to someone, and because they have power and authority they think that’s okay to treat people a certain way, but I thought it was unacceptable. It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice and to treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.
Q: Do you see any similarities between yourself and your character?
A: We've both made horrible mistakes in the past, and working hard to try to right them, and also having to continue to navigate through whatever situation we’re in. There’s still a job to be done. It’s not like everything stops and you can just deal with whatever has happened in the past. There’s still work to be done.
Q: If you found out a friend’s spouse was being unfaithful, would you tell?
A: I might say something to the person that’s being unfaithful. I don’t know if I would snitch. I would try to convince [the spouse] to come clean if they feel remorseful and want to salvage the relationship. I would tell them to not do it again.
Q: Would you ever consider a different type of role? Maybe someone from the Renaissance or another era?
A: It really just depends on the part and situation. Filmmaker, script..all of those things. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t be willing to try, other than probably a musical.
Q: The trailer from “Pain and Gain” (in theaters this spring) looks awesome.What was it like filming in South Florida?
A: It's the first time that I ever shot a movie down here. But Florida is the first place I ever went on vacation and ever got on an airplane. I was probably 15 or 16, and I flew to Florida with my mom and grandmother, because my uncle lived here at the time.
I love it here. I don’t like it here in the summer, when we were filming, because it’s a little too hot. But It was a great experience. I love the culture, I love the people. It’s a great place to work, but it would be better if it was spring or fall.