Mark Wahlberg surprised an audience at the Toronto International Film Festival Tuesday by unveiling the trailer for his upcoming film “Patriots Day,” a movie about the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 that hits theaters on December 21. In the movie, Wahlberg plays Boston Police Department Sergeant Tommy Saunders, a composite character who is on duty during the day of the tragedy. Wahlberg also serves as a producer on the film, which carried a deep personal significance for the Massachusetts native.
“I thought, if the right people aren’t in control of this thing, it won’t be handled the way it needs to be handled — with sensitivity and compassion — so I said I wanted to be a part of it,” Wahlberg said during the on-stage conversation at TIFF.
The project did face some public opposition from people who thought it was too soon to make a movie about the bombings, which killed three civilians and injured more than 260 people. “I said it’s not soon enough, because this stuff is happening all around us everywhere in the world. We’re constantly dealing with this war of love versus hate,” Wahlberg said.
The movie also stars John Goodman as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, Kevin Bacon as FBI special agent Richard DesLauriers, and J.K. Simmons as Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese.
“Patriots Day” is the third film from director Peter Berg starring and produced by Wahlberg. The pair first teamed up on 2013’s “Lone Survivor” before making this year’s “Deepwater Horizon,” a movie premiering Tuesday at TIFF about the heroic response to the offshore drilling rig that exploded in 2010, killing 11 people and creating the worst oil spill in U.S. history. In the film, Wahlberg plays an oil rig worker trying to survive and make it home to his daughter and wife, played by Kate Hudson.
“When I read the script I thought, wow, this story needs to be told, and then of course I thought right away about Pete [Berg],” Wahlberg said, adding that he identified with the oil workers who put their lives at risk and have to spend time away from their families. “It’s such a dangerous occupation and obviously they provide these resources that we all need and that the world uses on a daily basis.”
Wahlberg branched out from acting to producing back in 2004 when he served as an executive producer the hit TV series “Entourage,” but his original motivation to become a producer came from a frustration over not being able to get movie roles until actors like Brad Pitt would pass on them. “I was constantly waiting for somebody else to pass on something,” Wahlberg said, adding that his TV producing experience eventually led him to producing films. “We just started to apply the television producing approach to the films that we were making.”
After 2007’s “We Own the Night,” Wahlberg’s second feature film that he starred in and produced was 2010’s “The Fighter,” which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and is one of only eight films to win the Academy Award and for both Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo). Though 2013’s “Lone Survivor” is the only one of Wahlberg’s collaborations with Berg that has already hit theaters, Wahlberg said he’ll do as many movies with Berg as he can. “Pete is a force of nature when it comes to his talent,” Wahlberg said. “I’ll go to war with that man every chance I get.”
“Deepwater Horizon” premieres Tuesday at TIFF and hits theaters September 30.