Heart & Pain - The Fighter Movie Review & Mark Wahlberg Interview
Heart & Pain - The Fighter Movie Review & Mark Wahlberg Interview
By: John Carrieri
If you’re looking to rent a good movie this holiday season, check outThe Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg who plays real life boxer Micky Ward. The movie, based on a true story, tells the beginnings of Micky Ward’s difficult journey towards capturing the Light Welterweight boxing championship title and his tumultuous career. It’s a story of heart and of pain.
The pain was not only in the ring, but also in Ward’s family, who were at times as much a hindrance as they were a help.
Christian Bale stars as Ward’s brother Dicky, a former fighter who 'helped' Micky with his career, when he was not getting in trouble with the law or with drugs. Bale deserves kudos for taking this challenging role, one where he not only pulled off the physical transformation, but also flawlessly portrayed the idiosyncrasies of Dicky.
Wahlberg showed he had the heart to play Ward in the ring, and the stamina as he ended up training for over four years during the making of the movie.
Wahlberg plays the quiet giant caught in the maelstrom that is his family. You can feel his pain as he struggles with moving forward, while he drags the anchor holding him back. Amy Adams, plays his feisty girlfriend, Charlene, who’s not afraid to stand up to anyone, including Ward’s Mom/Manager, or his brother Dicky or his six sisters who all label her an ‘MTV girl’. A market transformation from her role in Julie & Julia, Adams proved she not only had the grit, but the sexy fire in her to pull off the role.
As you will see in the interview, this movie meant a lot to Wahlberg. It’s a project that might have never seen the light of day with out his appreciation of the real story, and his fortitude to seeing the movie through to conclusion. While the movie doesn’t cover the three famous Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti fights, it’s sets the stage for them. Perhaps we’ll be so lucky to see a sequel. (Don’t think 5 will be necessary). There is nothing like seeing real life champions and heroes being celebrated during their lifetime, with competent actors delivering on the story.
Listen to the Interview
U. What attracted you to doing 'The Fighter'?
MW I wanted to play a boxer since I started acting. I’m such a huge fan of boxing films or films that had boxing in it. After a couple failed attempts at playing a boxer, I got sent the script for the Micky Ward story. I thought, wow, I grew up loving Micky Ward. I lived probably 30 miles away from where he grew up. It was just the ideal role for me.
U. When you said you had a couple of failed attempts? What did you mean by that?
MW I had the chance to play a boxer called Vinnie Curto along with Robert De Niro who was going to play Angelo Dundee and that movie fell apart in pre-production right before we were about to start principal photography. There was another character who boxed in another movie that I was going to play but I didn’t end up doing that movie.
U. How hard did you train for the movie?
MW It was extremely difficult because we kept having different co-stars and directors and the movie kept falling apart. I had to continue to train, because you know, once you start, it’s not like riding a bike you can’t just stop and pick up where you left off. You need to be able to continue to maintain that training. Ultimately the four and a half years that it took to get the movie made and the training that I did allowed me to be the best boxer I could be and portray Micky Ward or at least as closely as possible.
U. Did any part of the fighting and being a boxer resonate with your childhood?
MW Certainly, I had a lot of fights, but just never had the gloves on. As I said I was always a huge fight fan and a huge Micky Ward fan. It was definitely one of my childhood fantasies to be able to wear the Championship Belt.
U. How many boxing movies did you watch before making the film?
MW I’d seen every one that was ever made, and then I watched them all again. Not to necessarily take things from those movies but to compare what the fights looked like what the training looked like. Yes I'm a huge fan of the sport and movies that have that element in it. I also saw the even more obscure ones, the older ones, John Garfield, Body and Soul, Robert Ryan in the Setup, Kurt Douglas, and The Champion.
U. Without giving away too much of the movie, was the fighting style in the movie how he really fought?
MW Hopefully as accurate as possible. What we wanted to do and one of my biggest concerns was that we do the boxing in a way that has never been done before. So we actually had the guys who shoot HBO fights come and film the boxing with the actual cameras that they used to film the great Micky Ward / Arturo Gatti fights. The same guy that directed those fights directed all the cameramen for us during the three main fights of the film. We hired real boxers and we went in there and really boxed. So hopefully it was as realistic and accurate as possible. That was certainly the goal.
U. How about his family dynamic, I’m sure you got to know the family and everything. It seemed this was both his lucky charm and also his curse.
MW He has a very interesting family. They are very very fascinating people. Very colorful. Some could say they are dysfunctional to a certain extent. I certainly relate to them. They are very much like my family - big family, lots of personalities. I got very close to the family. It was my job to make sure they felt comfortable in the way that they were going to be portrayed and the way that their story was told.
U. How did end up being paired with Christian Bale?
MW Christian and I, our daughters went to the same school and I had seen obviously a bunch of his work and while trying to get the movie back on its feet, it dawned on me. Wait a second. Christian could totally become Dicky and make the physical transformation that the role required. I approached him about it, he read the script and he responded to it immediately. That was just one of the many pieces of the puzzle we needed to pull together.
U. He did a phenomenal job, too. How was the dynamic, from you knew each other, but the dynamic of working together, I assume you had not worked together in the past.
MW No we hadn’t. We were both excited about it and the idea of playing these two characters and literally becoming these guys. We just both felt the same way about the material; that it was something that could be special and a story that people could really respond to.
U. It was a great story and you did a great job.
MW Thank you.
U. What is your favorite part of the movie making process?
MW That depends really, either the beginning or the end, depending on how difficult the shoot is. I do enjoy every single aspect of it. Some movies are harder to make than others. It’s an amazing experience, to be in such a collaborative environment and a creative environment with so many talented people. So much to learn, and so many things to try and experience.
U. Between producing, making a film, putting it together versus acting?
MW It really depends. As an actor, in a perfect world, you want to just go out and act. As an actor in the business and in the climate that it is today it’s important for you to go out and find your own material and develop things yourself because you don’t want to sit around waiting for offers to come. Usually the ones that you get offered are really not the ones you should be making anyway. So you kind of have to go create your own destiny and find your own materials. I don’t mind doing whatever I need to do to get it done; I’m more than willing to do.
U. Do you have a favorite project you've worked on?
MW I would have to say this one. This was the most personal. I was definitely the most passionate about it.
U. Did you achieve everything you wanted to with the film?
MW Yes! Micky and Dicky loved it. We’ll show the family and we’ll show the entire city of Lowell on December 7th. But so far so good.
U. What motivates you?
MW My family, my children, positivity, sense of accomplishment, my spirituality. So many different things.
U. What are your goals for the future?
MW First and foremost, to be a good person, to be a good father, husband, son, friend, brother, neighbor, leader, and follower. I love my work. I had such an amazing run, but having a family and certainly children changes the big picture. That’s the big job, that’s the thing that I can’t screw up.
U. Excellent. Well thanks for taking your time. I appreciate it.
MW Thank you John, good to talk with you.
Publish Date: 12/21/2010