mark walberg

Mark Walberg in 'Contraband'

*In ‘Contraband,’ Mark Wahlberg is trying to stay on the straight and narrow but is pulled back into crime game to protect his family. The film has a number of twists and turns and an unexpected ending. With that in mind, The Film Strip asked Mark if there is a thin line between good and evil? “Well, it does for a while, but everyone is going to get caught eventually, and in this movie, yeah, my character is no angel. He’s on the wrong side of the law as well, but he’s doing it for the right reasons and he’s doing it to protect and provide for his family. The other guys in the movie, thankfully, are worse than me and they’re not as likeable or charismatic. But those are the kinds of guys that I like and root for. Those are the kinds of guys that I can identify with. I think I can try to pull off the squeaky clean thing, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily my cup of tea.

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THIS CHARACTER THAT MADE YOU WANT TO TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE?

Well, there were a lot of things that I could identify with in the character and relate to, and I remember seeing the original and I just thought that it was really cool because there have been so many heist films. It’s just the way that he was able to do it. He’s a guy who’s pretty tough, but I think he’s smarter than he is tough. He has to react to a lot of different situations and circumstances and the guy is fighting to protect his family. I can certainly relate to that.

DID IT CONCERN YOU BECAUSE WE KNOW THE REALITY OF TERRORISM IN OUR SOCIETY?

Yeah, it’s terrifying. We are actually trying to put together a show right now about the Port of L.A. and all the different things that happen. It’s a reality show, kind of like a docudrama, and we’ve been spending a lot of time down there. Just knowing all the real dangers that are in there, drug smuggling, human trafficking, everything across the board. There was an incident that happened but was never reported that shut down the L.A. harbor for a week and was costing the nation 2.5 billion dollars a day because once that stops nothing happens. Nothing comes in and nothing comes out. It’s pretty scary stuff, but it’s a fascinating world and obviously the whole smuggling thing, they can never really figure out how…the way that they go about checking containers, the guessing game, it’s really a cat and mouse game. You never know. I just thought that it was an interesting story and I thought that it’d be entertaining if we could do it in the right way and get the right cast.

WHEN YOU MAKE A FILM LIKE THIS DO YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY, KNOWING ITS IMPLICATIONS?

Yeah. Certain things are out of your control. All I can do is make sure that I’m doing the right thing in my own personal life and that I’m being as good of a husband and father as I can be. Those are the important things, but it definitely makes you wonder. You never look at things quite the same anymore.

THERE’S A SCENE WHERE YOUR NEPHEW SAYS, ‘ADMIT IT. YOU STILL LOVE THIS.’ AND YOUR RESPONSE IS, ‘YEAH, BUT DON’T TELL MY WIFE.’ IS THERE ANYTHING FROM YOUR PAST THAT YOU LOOK BACK ON WITH THE SAME SENTIMENTS?

No. I just stopped hanging out with my friends at night in the nightlife and I don’t really miss it. You think you miss it until you go back and it’s the same thing. There’s nothing better than last night we went to dinner at six thirty and I was in bed by nine thirty and that was a late night for me because when I’m home I’m usually in bed by eight thirty, but I wake up early in the morning and I have the whole day to do what I want and I never wake up feeling like shit or feeling guilty. So, it’s a good thing. I mean, I still have golf. That’s my only other guilty pleasure, but even then I don’t focus on playing golf as much as I did because I’m not that good at it.

YOUR CHARACTER IS A VERY GET THE JOB DONE RIGHT BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY KIND OF GUY. DO YOU NATURALLY BRING THAT TO THE CHARACTER? ARE YOU THAT KIND OF GUY?

Yeah, that’s definitely my attitude and approach to life in general and everything that I do in business.

QUESTION: YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU’RE NOT VERY GOOD AT GOLF. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOOD AT?

These are just balance bands. The things that I think…I don’t like blowing my own horn. I’ll just talk about the things that I think I need to be good at, and that first and foremost is a good servant to God and my faith, a good husband, a good father, a good son, a good friend, brother and uncle, neighbor. Those are the important things that I focus on. If I succeed in business and fail at being a parent or a husband then I’ve done it all for nothing and I’ve failed, but everything else, I just try to do the best that I can at everything that I do. And I don’t like to lose. I like to win.

YOU’VE NEVER BEEN SHY TALKING ABOUT YOUR HOODLUM PAST, GROWING UP IN A BAD NEIGHBORHOOD. HOW HAS THAT PAST AFFECTED YOUR CHOICES TODAY?

Oh, I’m so appreciative of all the things that I’ve been able to do and the things that I’ve been able to overcome and given a second chance in this life is not something that comes easy. So, I don’t want to do anything to mess it up. People are always like, ‘Well, just go out one night?’ For what? I have everything that I want. I’m so blessed and so fortunate and I start everyday by getting on my hands and my knees and being grateful and working to do the right thing. If it all went away today I’d be happy because of the things that I was able to experience and the things that I learned along the way. As far as my past, there’s nothing that I can do to change that. It is what it is, but I’ve been fortunate enough that I can apply a lot of those real life experiences to what I’m doing now and to my work, both in front of the camera and with kids and kids that are growing up in similar situations. That’s the best that I can do and I make sure that I’m the best at whatever I do.

YOU’RE HELPING KIDS OUT THROUGH CHARITIES?

Yeah, we do a lot of inner city stuff, working with at risk youth and inner city kids. We just partnered up for the second year with the Taco Bell Foundation Graduate To Go and have created this idea that we came up with to build a studio, a recording studio, a film/television and animation studio at every Boy’s Club across the country. We’ve all ready opened the first one in California. We just did the groundbreaking on the one in Boston at my home club. It’s not only giving kids a place to go and learn about making film and television and music, but there are also mentors there that are getting involved in every other aspect of their life. They’re learning stuff that can give them a real career in this business or in something that they’re interested in doing because there’s not a lot of opportunity for them there.

WHAT’S THE NAME OF THIS ORGANIZATION?

Well, it’s Graduate To Go Studios. It’s sponsored by the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation and the Taco Bell Foundation.

peter facinilli

Peter Facinilli

Peter Facinelli wrote and produced his new film, “Loosie,” but is better known as the strict, serious doctor in the “Twilight” series and the father of Robert Pattison—yeah, right, his father. But in the vampire world anything is possible. In his new film, as James Brown would say, Peter’s got a brand new bag. And in his bag is stolen loot.  So to get the interview started on a funny good foot, The Film Strip asked Peter how could he steal from a Black woman? He laughs and says, ‘She had some beautiful jewelry.” Then, of course the next question was about picking this particular project?

WHY PICKPOCKING?

Well, I grew up here and New York is such a great character. I really wanted it to play a great role in this film and it was almost like my homage to New York. But at the same time the story in itself is very sweet and simple. I wanted to have the New York backdrop so that it brought the edge. I wanted to have that edgy backdrop for the sweet story.

THIS WAS BEFORE ‘TWILIGHT’?

Yeah, this was like seven or eight years ago. I wrote the film in three weeks and it took me seven or eight years to get it made. It was a longer journey for me, but I remember just being on the subways and having an idea for a pickpocket movie. I thought that would be an interesting world and then I started fantasizing about what this guy’s life was like and why he pick-pocketed and what his world looked like and wouldn’t it be fun if he still lived with his mom and why he pick-pocketed was a key thing for me, too. I was also very influenced by ’70’s movies. I love ’70’s movies and how they’re character driven. I love Paul Newman movies and [Steve] McQueen movies where they play these anti-heroes that are flawed, but you root for them. I wanted to create a character like that, that was flawed but that you rooted for.

WHY DID YOU PICK MICHAEL CORRENTE AS THE DIRECTOR?

Well, Michael is from Rhode Island, but he has a very east coast sensibility. There was a movie that he was doing ‘Brooklyn Rules,’ and I’ll tell you a funny story about that. I auditioned for this movie, ‘Brooklyn Rules,’ when there was another director onboard. I went in and I read and it was about a kid that grew up in Queens in the ’80’s. I was like, ‘I grew up in Queens in the ’80’s. I’m perfect for this.’ I went in and I read and I called my agent and I said, ‘How did I do?’ They said, ‘They don’t think you’re right for it.’ I was like, ‘How could I not be right for that? I lived that world.’ So, I was kind of bummed and then the movie never got made, and then a couple of years later Michael Corrente was attached to it and he actually went through the old audition tapes from the previous director, saw my audition and said, ‘This kid is perfect.’ So, it just goes how to show how subjective acting is because one director was like, ‘He’s completely wrong.’ Then another director off of the same tape was like, ‘This is the only kid that can play this role.’

IN ‘LOOSIES’ WOULD IT BE SAFE TO SAY THAT BEHIND EVERY CHANGED MAN, STANDS A WOMEN?

Oh, for sure, and I think it’s definitely evident in this film. Bobby has a certain perception of who he is which gets shattered. Someone once said that when you have a good woman you look in the mirror and all the truths come out. She becomes a mirror for all the real truths and his perception that he is doing the right thing. He’s trying to protect his mom. He’s trying to make good on his father’s debt. His mom needs him. Yeah, he steals a couple of dollars here and there, but no one is going to go home being broke over it. So, he finds a way to make excuses for all these things that are flaws within him, and when she holds up that mirror to him he starts to realize, ‘Okay, this isn’t good.

BESIDES THE FACT THAT VAMPIRES HAVE A GREAT CALLING CARD, WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THAT EXPERIENCE?

I’ve done so many different characters and so this was for me another. It was something different than I had ever done. That’s what was appealing about it for me as an actor. I thought, ‘Okay, this is a world that I haven’t explored yet,’ and I liked that character and I hadn’t played him before. So, I was very intrigued by that world. I love Catherine Hardwicke and I thought, ‘I’d love to work with her. She’s a talented filmmaker.’ But I think mostly what I got out of that was this huge fan base that actually came and saw this film. As an actor you go and you do your work and then you don’t know who’s showing up. I mean, it could be five people that see it and it could be ten million people who see it. You kind of give it away and you have no control over if that film is successful or not. This film was very successful, ‘Twilight’ was, and it opened my career up to a whole other fan base who all of a sudden looked at me and said, ‘I like this actor,’ and went back and started looking at my work previous to that.

THE HARRY POTTER CAST TALKED A LOT ABOUT THE SEPRATION ANXIETY WHEN IT WAS ALL OVER. ARE THE CAST MEMBERS OF ‘TWLIGHT’ STARTING TO GO THROUGHT THAT?

I don’t think that we’ve felt it yet because have another film coming out. So, I think in November next year we’ll all be together doing press for it. I mean, it’s still talked about in interviews because it’s still currently going on. So, even though we finished the filming process of it I think I’m quite happy to have now completed that process of it. And now getting to sit back and just enjoy it as a fan.