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Mark Wahlberg

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Mark Wahlberg on bringing back “cool movies” and, er, Transformers 4

First things first, your new film, 2 Guns, is a throwback to the big, bombastic Eighties and Nineties action films…

We’ve had so much crap this summer, so to have a throwback to cool movies that rely on chemistry is very timely. It was just the matter of finding the right guy to do it with.

That guy was Denzel Washington. How did the two of you hook up?

I’ve been friends with him for some time – we’re neighbours. It was perfect timing, because he’d just come off Flight, so he wanted something lighter. He felt confident enough in the work I’d done in comedies to take the plunge with me. He knew I’d have his back.

He’s a bit of a legend – was there anything surprising you learned about him?

He’s just a normal down-to-earth, blue-collar guy. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He likes to laugh and hang out. We’re into the same things: sports, family and faith.

You’re 42, and Denzel’s nearly 60. Is the action stuff more punishing now?

Absolutely. After doing four movies in a row, I needed a break. I did Broken City, Pain & Gain, 2 Guns and Lone Survivor – which is a war movie where I play a Navy Seal trapped in Afghanistan. That was the kicker. I had to tough it up, but after all that I was ready to do nothing.

When will you allow yourself to lose the six-pack and develop a paunch?

I’ve been exercising for a long time, and I feel sluggish when I don’t. I have times when I stop and splurge – I went through a chocolate chip cookie phase. But I stopped that.

What’s your routine, then?

If I’m just working out then I keep my back strong; I don’t want to let my herniated discs flare up. Pain & Gain was a whole process: diet, protein powders, supplements, 12 meals a day, weight-gain shakes. Then I had to lose the weight. I’d go out at 5am and make someone play full-court basketball with me for hours.

You’re filming Transformers 4 in Detroit – is it nice to help a city in need?

I like Detroit. The economy is not in great shape, but they’re in good spirits. We’re injecting $100m, but that’s not enough to rescue it.

How did Michael Bay talk you into it?

It’s kind of a standalone movie. He said, “Did you have fun working with me on Pain & Gain?” I said, “Absolutely, I had a blast.” So, he said, “Wanna do it again?” He works f*cking hard. As an aspiring director, I’m learning a lot from him.

What kind of films would you like to direct?

Initially, a small, intimate movie like The Fighter, but I’m a pretty ambitious guy, so I’m really paying attention to Michael and what he does. I’m getting to shadow him. Two things I can guarantee it won’t be is a musical or a sci-fi.

So you don’t like the sci-fi element of Transformers?

I’m so committed to it being real that I don’t even see the sci-fi element of Transformers. I play a dad who’s an inventor, who’s trying to save his daughter. But, then, making a movie with a teddy bear [Seth MacFarlane’s Ted] felt real to me, too. That’s real acting, yeah [laughs].

What did you make of Seth MacFarlane’s We Saw Your Boobs song at the Oscars? Were you offended that he neglected to mention your boobs?

No, I didn’t wish that he’d mentioned my boobs. Seth is one of the few guys that could say anything and make me laugh. It was great going to the Oscars as a presenter with Ted. I showed up in jeans and a T-shirt, did my thing, drove home, didn’t have to deal with the traffic, and then sat and watched it on television.

Entourage was loosely based on your early experiences in Hollywood. Are there any incidents that were too wild to be included in the show?

Yes, many. There was plenty of stuff we did that was too outrageous to put in, and there was also plenty of outrageous stuff we did that did end up on the show, which I wouldn’t own up to [laughs].

Do you think having your childhood friends around you helped keep your feet on the ground during those years?

I think so. That, and the thought that I could always end up back where I came from – that really kept my feet on the ground. I’ve had good and bad influences around me, and at times I’ve been a good influence and a bad influence myself.

Finally, you first started out as a teen pop star – do you have any advice for Justin Bieber?

Nobody could tell me anything when I was that age. I felt like I knew it all. If you want to have a long and successful career, then you might want to try to pull it together a little bit. Or maybe if you want to do whatever the f*ck you want, then do whatever the f*ck you want.

2 Guns is at cinemas nationwide from 16 August

(Image: Rex Features)

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