Mark Wahlberg is The Fighter

Dec 14, 2010 at 9:36 a.m. ET

Mark Wahlberg has spent the last four years of his life bringing The Fighter to the big screen. During that entire time, between the film being green-lit and un-green-lit, Wahlberg kept up not only his fight-training regimen, but also his keen belief that the story of Micky Ward [Wahlberg] and Dicky Eklund [Christian Bale] had to be told.

Mark Wahlberg

Wahlberg is at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills and he's the picture of pride. He has kept his promise to the Ward family to bring their incredible story to the big screen in The Fighter with love and care.

It was always imperative that a movie of this family's extraordinary story be steered by an artist who is emotionally connected to their tale of triumph and the power of family love.

The Fighter also re-teamed Mark Wahlberg with one of his favorite directors and a close personal friend -- David O. Russell. Wahlberg and Russell had previously joined forces as actor and director on Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, but this time out, Wahlberg was also a producer.

Mark Wahlberg: A Fighter's triumph

SheKnows: How hard is it to get the Boston accent right and as a former Bostonian, does that drive you crazy? And also, was it hard for you to lose it and now, to get it back?

Mark Wahlberg: It's a lot harder to get rid of it than it was to get it back [laughs]. Every time I would leave Boston, people would, you know, it would appear that it'd be like nails on a chalkboard for people hearing that accent. And I've been in other movies that took place in and around that area, and the accents were God-awful. Everybody on The Fighter did a fantastic job and didn't push it too far, even though you think these characters are so extreme and so broad. But they're actually a toned down version of these larger than life characters [laughs].

SheKnows: How intense did the training get for the boxing sequences? It looked like you took quite a few punches.

Mark Wahlberg: Well, the movie was a go and then it fell apart and I just continued to train. So after four-and-a-half, well, three-and-a-half years, I felt confident enough to go in there and be believable as a boxer who could possibly win the welterweight title. Had somebody said, "Hey, you've got to train four-and-a-half years to make this movie," I would have said, "Absolutely not." But the fact that I was just continuing to do it and never wanted to stop because I figured if I stopped, I would be giving up on the movie. I never wanted to do that. For me, it was well worth putting in the work. There were times obviously when it was harder and more difficult to get out of bed, and especially while making another film and training for a film that may or may not happen. It was certainly worth it in the end.

Fighting for the family

SheKnows: What part of Micky and Dicky's story did you feel would transfer well onto the screen?

Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter

Mark Wahlberg: I had promised Micky, Dicky, Alice, Charlene, everybody else involved, that we were gonna get this movie made. And it seemed, at first glance, like it was a no brainer. I mean, what a wonderful story -- a really new and interesting world that you're not that familiar with. And maybe it just wasn't meant to be. So we just had to grab ahold of it and force it to happen with sheer will and determination -- very much like Micky's journey to winning the title. He just had to go and make it happen.

SheKnows: The Fighter excels in so many ways. What part of the movie audience are you aiming for?

Mark Wahlberg: Young, old, men, women, they would all enjoy the story. Everybody would find something very compelling, as well as entertaining and inspiring about it. We also thought it has so much more to offer than the average film.

SheKnows: You are also an executive producer on the film. After working with director David O. Russell many times, was it a different experience?

Mark Wahlberg: [Laughs] I did promise David that after making this movie, our next collaboration would be right back to me just saying, "Yes, sir; no, sir," and strictly being there to service his vision. Because it was definitely a different dynamic with me saying, "Hey, wait, no, no. What about this, David?" Because I was so close to them, into that world, I think that was the only thing that took a little getting used to. I have promised my leader that I will not do that again the next time, if we get to work together again.

SheKnows: As we've discussed, you and David O. Russell have worked together a couple of times now and you obviously personally get along quite well. I was curious -- professionally and personally -- what you value most about Mr. Russell.

Christian Bale and Mark WahlbergMark Wahlberg: That's my brother, man, I love that guy. We've been through a lot together and we're so comfortable with one another. We're like family. And to be able to work with somebody that you admire so much and that you trust and that you care for, it -- I'm speaking for myself, of course, I don't really know how David feels [laughs]. But seriously, I just love him.

The Fighter: Mark Wahlberg on Christian Bale's bravado

SheKnows: Could you comment on the exemplary performance of your co-star, Christian Bale? Many are saying the Oscar is his.

Mark Wahlberg: There is the guy who's not scared to play this part. Everybody loved the idea of it, but nobody really wants to commit and go there. I had seen The Machinist. I had seen Rescue Dawn and I was like, "If he responds to the material, this is again a chance for us to make the best possible version of the movie." I could see why people were so attracted to the part, but at the same time, it can be intimidating. But, he's a fearless actor and he responded to it immediately. And that was really kind of what got the momentum going for The Fighter -- and everything else started to fall into place after that.

Up next...Mark talks about how close The Fighter rings true to him with his Boston upbringing and his thoughts on maintaining that intense boxing workout routine.

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