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The Other Guys – How Mark Wahlberg has taken a dramatic U-turn – towards comedy

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The Other Guys - Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg
The Other Guys - Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) © Columbia TriStar

Mark Wahlberg’s acting career began with Penny Marshall’s Renaissance Man. He went on to star in such dramas as Three Kings, The Perfect Storm, Invincible, The Lovely Bones and was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Martin Scosese’s The Departed.

This year Wahlberg’s career has taken a dramatic U-turn – towards comedy. He had a role in Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carell and is currently starring opposite Will Ferrell in The Other Guys.

In the film he portrays Terry Hoitz, a gung-ho New York detective who, through disciplinary action, has been paired with Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell), a desk cop. When the two take on a case that no one else has any interest in, and it turns out to be one of New York City’s biggest crimes – it’s up to ‘the other guys’ to save the day.

Can you tell us a little about your character?

The Other Guys - Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell
Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) and Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) © Columbia TriStar

My character is obsessed with what he thinks is real crime: drug dealers, vice, murderers, and anything that’s going on in the street. Will’s character’s whole attitude and approach to police work is paperwork. That’s all it basically comes down to – paperwork and white collar crime. But I’m stuck with him because of a mistake that I made.

He’s your classic, iconic street cop. He thinks he’s street smart and wants to go out, bust some heads, fire his weapon, and kick ass. He stampedes his way through everybody and everything. That’s their relationship – a guy who wants to stay at his desk and a guy who wants to be a peacock.

What was it like doing a comedy after all the dramatic roles?

I’ve been looking to do a comedy for a long time. I just wanted to make sure I was in the right hands. There were comedic elements to certain performances that I’ve done, but to do a full-blown comedy I wanted to make sure I was protected and who better to work with than the funniest guys in movies in my opinion, Will and Adam (McKay, the director). They invited me to dinner and said they wanted to do a movie. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ I said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want.’

Adam and Chris (Henchy) went to work writing the script, and then, eight or ten weeks later, they got it to me. I couldn’t’ believe it. It was perfect – they wrote an amazing role for me which I just got to go crazy.

You’ve got the most experience playing a cop.

The Other Guys - Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell
Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) and Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) © Columbia TriStar

I had a lot of fun making this movie. I just wanted to follow their lead. I did whatever they told me. I learned the lines and showed up. I was willing to try anything.

I signed up for a comedy, and then next thing you know, I’m getting thrown around and jumping through glass windows! But it was all stuff that I’m very comfortable with doing. The action takes this movie to a whole other level.

What was it like working with Will Ferrell?

The biggest concern for me was just looking at Will’s face. He’s just so funny that every once in a while I’d burst out laughing. Finally I’d look just to the left of him or just to the right of him and still appear as if I’m looking at him and reacting to what he’s doing, just to keep from laughing.

I hear Adam McKay creates an environment where there is no fear of failure on the set.

It’s fantastic. I kept waiting for someone to say, ‘All right, quit screwing around,’ but it never happened. Whatever you want to do, whatever you want to try is okay. Adam works completely differently from everybody else.

Your character has to dance some ballet, did you learn the steps or was that a double?

The Other Guys - Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg
Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) © Columbia TriStar

I did learn the steps, but in the end it was a little too hard and we had a double

Did you have any input into which Yankee would be shot? Derek Jeter, that is awesome for you as a Boston Red Sox fan.

No, but I was certainly thrilled to do it [he laughs]. I felt bad afterwards because he’s such a nice guy. We are going to screen the movie in Boston. I cannot wait. I just became a legend in Boston.

Will there be an Entourage movie?

We hope to do one. But, we still have a season and a half on HBO. They could still mess it up. We’ll see what happens.