Following an okay trailer promising your standard war drama, Peter Berg‘s “Lone Survivor” emerged late in the game to strong Oscar buzz, and the surprising thing is just how successful the film ends up being. This writer caught the flick when it premiered at AFI Fest on Tuesday, finding it a gripping, impressively acted experience (if weakened by its rough characterization—read the full review here). However, perhaps more notable than the film was Mark Wahlberg‘s Q&A afterwards with Berg and the film’s titular real-life inspiration Marcus Luttrell, during which the actor spoke out passionately against a common Hollywood tendency around awards season.
In a conversation following the screening moderated by AFI Fest director Jacqueline Lyanga, Wahlberg was asked to describe the intense preparation for his role as Navy SEAL Luttrell in the film. Instead of regaling the audience with tales of actor boot camp, he responded (via EW) with a nearly five-minute monologue on what the question even means. “For actors to sit there and talk about, ‘Oh I went to SEAL training’? I don’t give a fuck what you did,” he said. “You don’t do what these guys did. For somebody to sit there and say my job was as difficult as being in the military? How fucking dare you, while you sit in a makeup chair for two hours.”
He added, “I don’t give a shit if you get your ass busted. You get to go home at the end of the day. You get to go to your hotel room. You get to order your fucking chicken. Whatever the fuck it is.” In Wahlberg’s comments, the “you” being used is likely mostly general—directed at the industry’s exaggeration of any labor that actors might perform while developing a role. But unfortunately the situation lines up perfectly with a recent issue involving Tom Cruise and the same matter.
Said during a deposition for a $50 million libel suit against a magazine publisher (via Business Insider), Cruise’s comments in which have he reportedly compared acting to serving in Afghanistan in terms of difficulty landed him in hot water. Fair enough—it’s a ludicrous observation—but once court transcripts were obtained it became clear that Cruise’s remarks were a mixture of persuasion by the lawyer asking the question, and indeed the actor’s own perspective (with CNN further detailing how Cruise’s quotes were taken out of context).
Wahlberg’s reps quickly denied the accusations, and at the Q&A the actor switched gears to describe his experience making “Lone Survivor,” saying that he and the other actors in the film didn’t have to bond—they just knew the important story they were telling, and that even meant apparently giving up half his salary to Ben Foster, whom Wahlberg calls “my brother even though he’s the kind of actor who wants to continuously debate the debate.”
“I’ve done the movies where I talk about…’God, I trained for four and a half years and I was ‘The Fighter‘ and fuck all that. It really means nothing. I love Marcus [Luttrell] for what he’s done and I’m a very lucky guy to do what I do and I’m proud to have been part of it, but it’s just so much bigger than what I do. I love Pete [Berg] for what he did and how committed he was,” he said. “He would never let any one of us forget about what was important in the course of making the movie and whether it was Marcus or the other SEAL guys, if they saw something that didn’t ring true, I don’t care if it was going to be the biggest stunt sequence in the movie, they would cut, call bullshit, and grab all of us by the fucking neck and say ‘no do it this way, and do it right and make it real’ and if you don’t it’s a problem. I was really proud to be a part of that.”
Wahlberg initially seemed to be calmed by Berg, who joked that the premiere had been a long night, but just afterwards the actor said, “No, it’s just getting fucking started. I’m going to find my fucking second wind and we’re going to celebrate this fucking movie. But don’t ask me any more questions” But seeing how AFI Fest marked what those behind “Lone Survivor” hope to be a run-up to awards before it hits theaters on January 10th, the actor will likely be fielding questions about his remarks for some time, just like Cruise.