Mark Wahlberg Falls Out With ‘Fighter’ BFF David O. Russell (Exclusive)

“They went with Brad Cooper because they felt he was hungrier and would work for cheaper”


One of the most enduring friendships in Hollywood — and one that led to the Oscars this year — has dissolved in acrimony.

Hollywood heavyweight Mark Wahlberg has fallen out with his buddy director David O. Russell over the director’s decision to cast someone else in the lead of his new film, “The Silver Linings Playbook,” according to two individuals with knowledge of the relationship.

“They went with Brad Cooper because they felt he was hungrier and would work for cheaper,” Matt Muzio, Russell’s cousin and frequent collaborator, told TheWrap.

Muzio also fell out with the director recently, but said he was with Russell this summer on Martha’s Vineyard when the decision was made. Another individual close to Wahlberg confirmed the information.

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Wahlberg's deal provided that he was to be paid an additional $900,000 if Anne Hathaway fell out of the project, according to two individuals with knowledge of the deal. Hathaway did indeed drop out, making Cooper the less expensive option to Wahlberg.

Wahlberg was paid a fee anyway, though another executive said it was because of his creative contribution to the Weinstein Co. project.

The decision to cast Cooper surprised Muzio and others because Wahlberg has been one of Russell’s most loyal friends in Hollywood, bringing him in on his pet project, “The Fighter,” after years of Russell being sidelined.

Before that, Russell had favored Wahlberg for years, casting him in his cult hit “Three Kings” and again in “I Heart Huckabees” — a movie that not only failed at the box office but solidified the director’s reputation in the industry as difficult after a video surfaced of him screaming at Lily Tomlin on set.

Also read: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale on ‘The Fighter': Contenders or Palookas?

“The Fighter” was Russell’s first movie since that debacle, a critical success and a box-office hit — and a path back to productivity for the writer-director.  Russell was nominated for Best Director, and producer Wahlberg was nominated for Best Picture. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo both won Oscars for their supporting performances.

“If it weren’t for ‘The Fighter,’ ‘Silver Linings’ wouldn’t exist,” Muzio said.

A spokesman for Wahlberg had no comment. An agent for Russell did not return repeat emails and calls; his PR rep could not reached.

A spokesman for Weinstein had no comment.

In “Silver Linings,” which started shooting last week, Cooper plays Pat Peoples, a teacher who after spending years in a mental institution, moves back in with his mother and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Wahlberg had been attached to the role for the better part of this year.

The all-star cast of the Weinstein Co. film also includes Robert De Niro, who plays what one knowledgeable person described as an “ambling, lunatic father.” Jackie Weaver plays the mother, and Jennifer Lawrence is the female lead.

According to an individual close to the actor, Wahlberg is so upset about it that he and Russell are no longer speaking.

He had been working with the director on other projects, and those have gone in different directions:

>> Wahlberg will be teaming up with Baltasar Kormakur for a new Universal action movie, “2 Guns,” in which Russell had been previously involved.

>> Wahlberg is trying to put together “The Fighter 2” and, as someone in his camp said, “If we get “Fighter 2” off the ground, it won’t be with David Russell.”

As for “Silver Linings,” Wahlberg is not the only major actor to be considered and fall out of the movie. Hathaway had been attached but could not fit the movie into her schedule.

  • meg82461

    It's funny to look back on these comments two years later and see that DOR had an oscar nominated movie and Wahlberg did a movie opposite a talking teddy bear. I guess everybody was wrong, non?

  • Foodie

    I've a friend that knows this Muzio guy through the Russel camp (from which he's been permanently ostracized). Says he's one of the biggest hanger on, hustlers around. Loves to name drop, loves telling everyone how close he and Mark Wahlberg are. Frequent collaborator? Yeah right. DOR gave his loser first cousin two crap parts in two of his projects, probably as a favor to his uncle. Muzio probably then upset production by hassling the cast for autographs, posing for pictures, and stealing food from craft services. Loser probably can't even pay his rent. Funny how this all turned out. Idiot sells out his cousin to a gossip rag, and DOR goes on to make one of the best films of 2012. Hysterical karma.