The patron saint of Boston has teamed up with director Peter Berg for his new film Patriots Day.
Patriots Day gives an intense account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’s (played by John Goodman) actions in the lead up to the events of the Boston Marathon bombing that left three people dead and more than 250 injured and it’s aftermath, which sent Boston into a state of emergency as terrorists engaged in a massive shootout and police conducted a four-day citywide manhunt. Mark Wahlberg, who also co-producer, plays an amalgamation of two different Boston detectives through the film’s script. He has openly stated that both he and Berg went to great pains to research their characters to make sure they got the story right. Here, Wahlberg explains why he felt such a responsibility to his hometown of Boston and why hope will always trump terrorism.
You’re producing and acting in this film. How did this make you feel?
I had an overwhelming amount of responsibility and stress, but this is my hometown and I wanted to make sure that this movie was handled with respect and sensitivity, which it needed to be. It’s just hard …I get annoyed when people ask me, “What was the most difficult part?” Because it’s in comparison to what people went through, it’s nothing. The difficult part is that this still happened, and you know the outcome ultimately is positive because people came together and were really strong in how they united and helped each other and I’m proud to be a Bostonian and see how they reacted, but it still just…
Was this movie accurate? Because a lot of things we didn’t know about, the shooting, the gun fight with bombs in the streets of Boston…was it like that? Or did you take some licenses?
Well, there are very few occasions where they took licenses, but for instance with the brothers, we never were really privy to have cameras and see what they were talking about when they were plotting this thing so there were liberties taken there, but other than that we tried to stay as accurate as possible.
What does being a patriot mean to you?
To me one part of patriotism is just to kind of appreciate the fact that this is the place that you want to be. As a New Yorker, being in New York and hearing about the Boston marathon, I mean the first thought was that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach where you go, “Oh my God! It’s happening again!” I think that again, with the city of Boston, you saw that same kind of unity. That same kind of watching-out-for-each-other’s backs. Again it could go the other way, it could separate people. Clearly from the film, that was not the effect.
Through the movies you’ve acted in, you represent, in a way, America. Are you happy about the direction America is going?
Well I’m certainly hoping that we’re going to go in the right direction. I’m praying every day. I’m a positive person, so I’m trying to remain optimistic.
You’re very religious. Do you think religion plays a part in this hate between two parts of the world?
No, I don’t think it does. I have a lot of Muslim friends. I have a lot of Jewish friends. They don’t preach or promote hatred. No, I don’t think it does at all. I think people may try to manipulate what is said, whether it be the Quran or the Bible, whatever it is, but no it’s not about religion.
After September 11, it was difficult to even think about making a movie about real life terrorist attacks. Oliver Stone was the first to do it. Did you have the same feelings?
Well we had that conversation-debate many times, and every time I turned on the news something else was happening somewhere else in the world, and also in our country. Police shootings, Orlando, San Bernardino, Brussels, Belgium, I mean everywhere. I just felt like, “You know what? It’s not soon enough to go out there and promote the message of love and people coming together.” It needs to be out there immediately and everywhere, and this is a global issue. So yeah, it needs to be seen and heard by everybody as soon as possible.
You’ve said that we are responding to these incidents with violence and hate and bombs and drones and invasions. Do you agree that if we responded with love and by sharing what we have, it would be easier to win this battle?
Well I’m certainly for love, and even forgiveness and starting over. But obviously I don’t make those decisions, and we live in a very real world that’s very dangerous.
In this movie there is a line of demarcation between good and evil. Do you think that that kind of idea that we are right and good and they are the evil will pay at the end?
I didn’t feel that way. Look, I think certainly the character that I was playing had a lot of issues. He was by no means perfect, conflicted, and I think it’s understandable. We all make mistakes. At the end of the day, if you see somebody who’s hurt, are you going to ignore that person? Or are you the type of person who’s going to hurt that person? Or are you the person who’s going to go and help that person? I think ultimately that’s how you can define whether somebody has good intentions or bad intentions.
If you had to look back and reflect on your life, what would be the big differences between then and now?
Hopefully I’ve grown a little bit and matured a little bit. I’m a 45-year-old father and husband, father of four, very grateful for the journey that I’ve had, the experiences that I’ve had, and the knowledge that I’ve acquired along the way. Most of it again reverts back to my faith and kind of falls into this simplistic kind of life experience, growth that I’m grateful to have had.
How did you explain to your kids the situation of the evil and the good and people like Trump saying, “All the Muslims have to go out!”?
Well my kids are still young so they’ll figure it out when they are old enough and ready to have those particular conversations.
Do you try to shade them from this type of thing?
Yeah I mean while they’re in school they hear certain things, but you know I certainly try to protect them as much as possible from not only seeing things on the news, but also seeing certain movies and listening to certain music. I mean that’s my job, I’m trying to keep them as sheltered as possible until they need to know about those things and have those conversations.
If you could choose how people would feel after they saw this movie, what would you like them to feel?
Again, hope and optimism that we can come together and things will get better. If not what do you have? You just quit? You give up?
Patriot’s day is in theatres on January 12th.