Mark Wahlberg’s latest movie “Spenser Confidential” is based on intellectual property, boasts an A-list cast and director, blends action, comedy and mystery and is so personal to the actor that it feels like the quintessential Mark Wahlberg movie. And yet the actor says if it weren’t for Netflix, it might not have been made at all.
“Spenser Confidential” marks the first time the movie star has worked with Netflix on a film, and Wahlberg said in an interview with TheWrap that the movie’s smaller, character-driven nature and genre-blending likely wouldn’t have happened at another studio.
“I don’t think there would be too many studios that would have the confidence to go and make a movie that is just a character driven, throwback buddy comedy,” Wahlberg said. “They’re either making tentpoles or they’re releasing little movies, or some holiday fare. They’re not venturing into that middle ground. So this was definitely a great experience.”
Though “Spenser Confidential” is IP based on the book “Wonderland” and the ’80s TV series “Spenser: For Hire,” it was Netflix that approached Wahlberg and director Peter Berg and saw the potential for what turned out to be a very personal story for Wahlberg. Not only does the actor play a Boston cop who happens to be a part time boxing trainer and loves dogs, “Spenser Confidential” was even shot literally on the street in Boston where Wahlberg grew up.
“I loved seeing Boston and my neighborhood on television in something other than the news. It was just very well executed, and I thought it would be great to work with Pete again and do something a little lighter with a comedic element to it, and be back home,” he said. “I think we kind of pushed the envelope, almost to the point where at some points I was like, ‘Pete, do you know what movie we want to make here?’ But then having the luxury of having so much stuff and going into the editing room and doing that final pass on the script in the cut was a real luxury.”
In the film, Wahlberg plays a Boston cop just released from prison after serving time for assaulting his captain. But when his former boss is brutally assassinated the day he gets out of prison, Wahlberg is one of the top suspects and is driven to find the killer, and the only help he can find is his unlikely roommate played by Winston Duke. It also co-stars Iliza Shlesinger, Marc Maron, Alan Arkin and Post Malone in his first ever acting role.
“It was his first acting gig, he and I became friendly, hanging out at my house, having a few beverages, and he was like, ‘I’d love to be in a movie, I really want to die in a movie,'” Wahlberg said. “I don’t know if we can off you in the movie, but we can certainly figure something out, and I had this idea already, and then it was actually two parts that we combined into one, and he came in and he killed it.”
Wahlberg said “Spenser Confidential” has tested better than any film he’s shown to audiences, and the film leaves open the possibility of a sequel. If audiences gravitate toward it on Netflix, he’s open to see where Spenser’s story could go.
“I love the fact that audiences can decide when and where they want to view it at their own pace and at their own time,” he said. “It’s one of those things if audiences really want it and fall in love with it. The reaction that we’ve gotten thus far seems like they’ll really want another one, and then it’s going to be the task of making it better, cooler and different, and I’ve already talked to Brian Helgeland and Pete about some possible ideas. So, we’ll see what happens.”
Wahlberg points out that in his whole career, he’s only made two sequels, including “Ted 2” and “Daddy’s Home 2,” and at this point in his career, he’s more inclined to get out of his comfort zone and find a project that’s the exact opposite of the thing he’s just done before.
“I do kind of just read a script and see if I respond to it, and if it’s something that I would want to see myself, that I think audiences would want to see me in, and then hopefully I can stretch and grow at the same time,” he said. “But this just seemed like this could be something really cool, we know the world, make it our own, and I think people will really appreciate the authenticity that we bring to it. And that would ring really true.”
“Spenser Confidential” debuts on Netflix on Friday, March 6.