Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Chris Bridges, and Beau Bridges Talk "Max Payne"

Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis in
Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis in "Max Payne.". © 20th Century Fox

Director John Moore had to pull out of the Max Payne press conference due to laryngitis, but the stars of the film – Mark Wahlberg, Beau Bridges, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, and Mila Kunis – had no problem whatsoever talking about the movie. Based on the popular video game, Max Payne features Wahlberg as the title character hell bent on getting revenge for the murders of his wife and daughter, Kunis as a kick-ass Russian assassin out to avenge her sister's death, Chris Bridges as an internal affairs detective, and Beau Bridges as Max Payne's mentor.

There's a lot of action, lots of effects, and as director John Moore says (when he doesn't have laryngitis), "This film is not Minimum Payne. And it's not Medium Payne. It's Max Payne."

Max Payne Press Conference

Mila, this is your first action role, did you enjoy the clothes, the guns and the training? Was it different for you?

Mila Kunis: "I didn’t enjoy the clothes very much. I enjoyed the guns and I enjoyed the training a lot."

What did you have to do?

Mila Kunis: "I had weapons safety and then I had to…John for some reason made me learn how to take an MK5H apart and put it back together blindfolded. I really don’t know why, but I now know how to do that in case anyone wants it. I liked shooting the gun a lot more than I thought I would. I think I like that. The clothes sucked. Oh my God, it was awful. Mark was like bundled up in jackets and wet suits and coats and turtlenecks and I was in a leather bustier and black pants and 5 inch heels."

Chris Bridges: "Well, it looked good. It was sexy."

Mark Wahlberg: "She needed to understand actor safety. She’s swinging that stick at me like a wild person. You’re not supposed to hit somebody in the movies."

Mila Kunis: "You kind of liked it."

Mark Wahlberg: "It’s just make pretend. Only I get to hit for real."

For each of you, can you talk about what attracted you to this project and what you enjoyed most about making this film?

Chris Bridges: "Well, I’ve already said what attracted me to the project was being able to point a gun at Mark Wahlberg and get away with it and live to tell about it today. So, you know, that’s definitely why I signed on to do this movie. Just to point a gun at this man."

Mark Wahlberg: "I thought he liked me."

Chris Bridges: "No, I’m just messing with him. But honestly, I try to pick those diverse roles and things that I haven’t done before. This is my first time getting a little piece of the action and then playing on that side of the law. You know, I love surprising myself and of course everyone else that watches. So Jim Bravura, Internal Affairs Agent, my first time actually playing that role and enjoyed doing it. It was actually written for a 60-year-old white man. I went to audition for it. I got the call from John Moore two days later saying that I got the part and I was extremely excited. I’m even more excited for this to come out on October 17th."

Mila Kunis: "I just really wanted to beat Mark up and I did and it was really great."

Mark Wahlberg: "I'm a parent."

Mila Kunis: "It was really empowering. I got a lot of my anger out and angst and yeah, that’s it."

Beau Bridges: "I had never heard of the game, Max Payne, but I have five kids. When I told them, I said, 'I’m going to be in Max Payne," they said, “Max Payne! Oh, man!' So I knew it was a game that had a big following, so that was exciting. And then I read the script and you could just tell by the descriptions that it was going to have a real high sense of style, and John Moore really brought that. It’s always exciting to be in something that has that going for it. He’s from that whole technical side and brought that understanding to it. But apart from that, we also in the very beginning talked a lot about the human element to the characters and I always like that, you know, getting into background.

We didn’t rehearse so much all the words but just really talking about where these people come from and why they do what they do. I think it’s a real strong story – this guy who’s going off to find the killer of his wife and child. That’s something different from a lot of movies that come out of games and the play’s the thing, like Shakespeare said a long time ago. So I’m glad to be a part of it. I enjoyed it thoroughly."

Mark Wahlberg: "I just did it because they offered it to me. (Laughing) I just played a science teacher in The Happening, I played an accountant in The Lovely Bones, and it was time to go back and do what I think best suits me, busting some heads and having some fun and kicking ass on the bad guys."

Chris, were you looking for a role like this? It’s very different from what you’ve played before.

Chris Bridges: "I always look for something that I haven’t necessarily done yet because I like to, of course, expand my body of work. I think that this adds to the resume of me continuing to do different roles. So absolutely, I was looking for a role like this."

Mark, there are some signature Max Payne moves that you get to do, like the devil guns and the slow motion. How did it feel to act those out?

Mark Wahlberg: "The idea of it was fun, but I'm not as young as I used to be. It wasn't like we had a gigantic budget so we were on a green screen with wires and everything. We basically shot all the action on film. But no, being able to do those kinds of things and especially the third act of the film when he finally actually takes the drug and really goes crazy, it's what every kid dreams about doing."

Beau Bridges: "He'd come to work every time, he would probably never talk about this, but he'd have some new band-aid on him, a new thing wrapped up. He does some pretty remarkable physical feats in this."

Mark Wahlberg: "Yeah, John is a very demanding director, you know, and he knows exactly what he's doing. We wanted to make it look real so we just basically got in there and tried to do as much as possible."

Page 2: On Stunts and the PG-13 Rating

Max Payne Press Conference

Can you talk about your character's darker side?

Beau Bridges: "I still haven't seen the film. I'm seeing it for the first time Monday night at the premiere. I'm really excited to see it but I've seen snatches of it and I think what hopefully will set it apart for an adventure film, because that's really what it is at its heart is an entertainment film, but these characters are very lifelike and nothing is as it seems.

None of the people are what you think when you first meet them, who you think they are, and they turn out to be maybe something a little different. But I was really attracted to the whole kind of father/son relationship that my character had with Max Payne. And we hit it off pretty good at the beginning. I have great respect for him. He comes really loaded for bear…"

Mark Wahlberg: "Well, that was mutual for sure."

Beau Bridges: "And I know he's a family guy. He's a dad, and I responded to all that. So it wasn't much of a stretch to get into that part of our relationship and I think it was real key to tell the story, the movie that we did. But I think BB, my guy, he just really wants Max to evolve to his fullest potential. I think that's really his, that's where he wants to take it. Max just doesn't see the light, fortunately."

Is there any correlation between Vincent Chase playing Aquaman and you playing Max Payne?

Mark Wahlberg: "No. No, there will be if they ask me to do the sequel. Chris Bridges is going to play Max Payne in the sequel. We've already discussed that. No, Vince is not so smart when it comes to making his choices and obviously in this business, it's all about making the right choices. Me and Chris have talked about it quite a bit, both coming from the music world.

No, Vince is, hopefully he'll rebound. It's going to be a long journey. People have enjoyed this season more than anything because they like seeing people down. He's going to go to a pretty dark place before he gets to rebound, so I hope you guys enjoy it."

Is there a continuity error between when you hit Chris O'Donnell and only later he has the injury?

Mark Wahlberg: "Yeah, it's called trying to make a PG-13 so you can't hit him and then see the blood coming out, but later on if he's a little bit bloodied up, then it's okay. It's called trying to trick everybody into giving you a PG-13 because we want more people to see this film. If not, if we weren't making a PG-13, you would've heard a lot of f-cks from me, that's for sure. You only get one and they gave it to this young lady. I was f-ckin' pissed, believe me. I said sh-t every chance I got. No, again, we were trying to make a movie that was entertaining and driven by emotion so the F-bomb really, I think all that stuff would have kind of diluted it anyway. Too much of it just kind of makes it into something else. But yeah, there were little tricks that we had to do. Like you see very little blood from the gunshots and stuff like that."

Was there a mishap between Mark and Mila on the set?

Mark Wahlberg: "With this wild one here? She's just swinging that f-ckin' thing like a mad person. I told her, 'You know, you're not supposed to hit.'"

Mila Kunis: "I'm a method actress so I took my job very seriously. I insisted on practicing a lot. What mishap?"

Mark Wahlberg: "I thought I was a pretty sympathetic guy. Chris wants to pull guns out on me, she wants to hit me, Beau liked me but then again he turned into a wild person at the end. They're making fun of me on Saturday Night Live. What's going on here? I'm a father now. I got three kids. Come on, give me a break."

What was your reaction to the SNL skit?

Mark Wahlberg: "You know what? It's flattering. It wasn't obviously as funny as the Tina Fey Sarah Palin thing so I don't know. Maybe it's a little jab because I've refused to do the show so many times, but I don't know.

Yeah, it was funny. 'Say hi to your mother for me,' is my new catch phrase even though I never really said that before. But I'll take it and run with it. No, it was not as funny as Hot Rod the movie but kid's gotta do what he's gotta do to make a living. I ain't knockin' it. It's all good."

Was it harder to go to that dark place since you have your own family?

Mark Wahlberg: "Definitely. I'm not one of those Shakespearean actors that thinks about the color blue or goes to that place, or thinks about that place when I wanted to hide and be alone as a kid. I have my past, which has got a lot of stuff to draw from, and I have children so I think about something horrible happening to my family. That's why I can't wait until the last day of shooting so I can go home and hug my kids and get those thoughts out of my head."

Was it fun on set or did you stay in that dark place?

Mark Wahlberg: "Did it look fun? It was not, no."

Beau Bridges: "It was cold."

Chris Bridges: "Bone cold, yeah."

Beau Bridges: "Yeah, it was a raging snow storm when we first started there in Toronto, but that was great and I'm sure that's one of the reasons they chose that place. The snow storm is a big character in the game and it is in the movie. Then afterwards we had to recreate that snow, so then it was a different problem. We had these big, slow-moving flakes that would sit in your hair and people would have to come up and…"

Mark Wahlberg: "Swallow it."

Beau Bridges: "But the guys in the crew, the ladies and men in the crew, they were the ones that had the toughest go because we would be able to go in these little huts and they'd have some heaters in there but even so, I'd come out and, you know, if I had a long spiel or something, I could hardly get my jaw to move in the cold to say the words."

Mark Wahlberg: "And John [Moore] also, right before we started shooting, if a big storm was coming in, he'd call the crew up in the middle of the night and say, 'Let's go, get the cameras.' You know, we'd go out there and shoot some additional footage. They definitely were thrilled that they had those kinds of conditions."

Page 3: On Rappers Turning to Acting and Mila Kunis' Sense of Humor

Max Payne Press Conference

Chris, did you have conversations with Mark about Samuel L. Jackson's comments about rappers moving to acting and taking jobs from real actors? Did you mention him in your song to get back at him?

Chris Bridges: "I mean, nobody ever, like actors, I only hear about it through other people. No one has ever said anything to my face."

Mark Wahlberg: "Sam was mad for a little while.

I think he's come around now. Sam lives right around the corner from me. Sam is mad at the supermarket when I see him. People come up to him and they're like, 'Mr. Jackson.' 'Nah, nah.'"

Chris Bridges: "I actually just had a party at Comic Con and he came through there, so when I said that in that verse, it was kind of just poking fun. That's all it was. It was a play off words but at the end of the day, like he said about the actors and them griping about some rappers taking their jobs, I hear about it through other people. But no one's ever said anything directly to me."

Mark Wahlberg: "Well, the thing is, certainly when I started, it was an extremely difficult thing to become a respected actor and not many musicians had done it. But if you look at Chris's approach, it's not like, 'Okay, I'm kinda coming in and out, taking a couple of paychecks and not really respecting the art form and trying to grow as an actor and trying to be taken seriously.' We've talked a lot.

We have a lot in common. He's asked me advice. He's not too cool to say, 'Hey, what do you think about this? What do you think about that?' I think he's going to have a long, lengthy career."

"But before me and Will Smith, there wasn't many people who had done it successfully. So, you know, if you got a bunch of guys just coming in, taking roles from great actors, a guy like Sam Jackson who's one of the finest actors in the business and didn't really get his break until late in life, so I can understand where he's coming from.

But you have to talk about the individuals that are doing it. And Chris is a guy who has much respect for the art form and has continued to try. I told him it's a marathon, it's not a sprint. And he's really choosing roles to continue to grow as an actor, work with people that he can learn from and become better."

Chris Bridges: "The check is in the mail."

Mark Wahlberg: "The next Will Smith, baby."

Mila, was there any room for levity in this?

Mila Kunis: "Oh, what were you going to say?"

Mark Wahlberg: "Nothing. No, she is very funny."

Mila Kunis: "Mark doesn't think I'm very funny."

Mark Wahlberg: "She's mean."

Mila Kunis: "See? See, that's funny. No, you know, no, Mona Sax wasn't very funny but coming off of Sarah Marshall, I got to laugh by myself in my hotel room plenty. No, I'm kidding. It was fine. It was different but it was fine. Yeah, I liked it, but it was very different."

Do you have to turn it off?

Mila Kunis: "Around him, yeah. Absolutely."

Mark Wahlberg: "She never stopped, she never stopped."

Mila Kunis: "I stopped. I stopped after like two weeks. I was like, 'Eh, f-ck this, I won't be funny.' See, they laugh. It's amazing what happens. No, I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I'm totally kidding.

I have this odd tendency to be really sarcastic when I'm uncomfortable and I don't really know why but it just comes out and it's come out since I was a child and Mark makes me incredibly uncomfortable so thus I do dumb sh-t in front of him and made dumb comments. And then halfway through he just looks at me and goes, 'What?' And then I was like, 'Aw, f-ck.'"

Mark Wahlberg: "Well, you'll be standing there and she'll come up and kick you from behind. She's like, 'Oh, that was really funny. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.' I'm like, 'Why was that…?'"

Mila Kunis: "That was different. No, no, that was different."

Mark Wahlberg: "Yeah, she cracks herself up. That's for sure."

Mila Kunis: "I do. I make myself laugh all the time. I think I'm really funny. I do."

What was the biggest challenge of the role?

Mark Wahlberg: "Well, the biggest challenge for me was going to that emotional place and having to imagine something horrible happening to my family.

And then the biggest physical challenge was keeping up the mystery and the façade that I'm actually tough and cool and that I can go and do all this action stuff and it doesn't hurt and I'm not scared, because I'm not the thrill seeker that I used to be. Having three children, I told Chris, you know, he says, 'Oh, I gotta get this new motorcycle.' I said, 'No, I gave my motorcycle away. No more jumping out of planes or off of buildings or any of that stuff.' I said in between movies, I tell them to wrap me up in cellophane so nothing happens because I want to be able to play with my kids. I've been very fortunate, very lucky. I've a bunch of close calls but a movie like this, you want to get in there and make it as realistic as possible. But anything too dangerous, I got a few guys that look exactly like me. Even when I'm driving down the street, if I see somebody who looks like me, I ask them if they're willing to jump out a window or get hit by a car. No faster than 35 miles an hour of course, but, yeah."

Page 4: On Sequels, Marriage, and Video Game Movies

Max Payne Press Conference

There was a sequel to the game. Would you do another Max Payne movie?

Mark Wahlberg: "If I don't, Chris will. We already talked about that, but my whole thing is if we can make it better than the first… And my other thing is I really love when this character takes that little blue drug, so if we could have him crazy the whole time then that'd be another thing that would appeal to me.

You guys, we've gotta do a Mona Sax spinoff, that's for sure."

Mila Kunis: "Yeah, I agree with Mark."

Mark Wahlberg: "Did you sign your life away in your contract for four sequels?"

Mila Kunis: "I did. My soul is now given to 20th Century Fox. No, I would absolutely do it. I liked working on this. I enjoyed working with Mark. If there were to be…"

Mark Wahlberg: "For real?"

Mila Kunis: "For real. For real."

Mark Wahlberg: "Awww."

Mila Kunis: "You're welcome."

Mark Wahlberg: "Thank you."

Mila Kunis: "But if there were to be a sequel, I'd like to have a scene with somebody else other than Mark. That would be nice too."

Mark Wahlberg: "See?"

Mila Kunis: "See, but that's funny. They kind of chuckled. Ugh."

Mark Wahlberg: "Because they don't want to make you feel bad. You're trying so hard."

Mila Kunis: "No, but seriously, I would want to work with Beau because you and I never got to do anything except hang out on set."

Beau Bridges: "It'd have to be a prequel."

Mark Wahlberg: "Do the prequel and Beau and you can have a love child. Beau would like that part."

Mila Kunis: "Maybe I am the love child."

Beau Bridges: "Ooh, there you go. Nice, call John Moore immediately."

Mila Kunis: "See, it can happen. And Chris and I met two days ago."

Chris Bridges: "Exactly, and I mean, being a black man that didn't die in the first one I definitely would be looking forward to the sequel, thank you. Thank you, yes, very much. I take pride."

Mark, you mentioned retiring at 40?

Mark Wahlberg: "I said a lot of dumb sh-t in my career. I've said a lot of dumb things. You know what? I have a family so I don't want to. I've been focusing on me and my career for quite some time and they are definitely the priority now, so if I can find a nice balance to work here and there on things that I'm very passionate about, but still be around to take my kids to school and pick them up after and drag them to the golf course with me, then I'd like to do that. But I can't be working at the pace that I am for much longer, but maybe 45 now. We'll see."

Are you thinking about getting married?

Mark Wahlberg: "Yeah, we're talking about getting married in August, yeah."


Mark Wahlberg: "Thank you. August. It's a good month."

Mila Kunis: "I think so."

Mark Wahlberg: "We're not inviting yet."

Mila Kunis: "Well, why don't you do it on August 14th?"

Mark Wahlberg: "What's that? Your birthday?"

Mila Kunis: "My birthday."

Mark Wahlberg: "Oh, cool."

Mila Kunis: "That way we can have a dual wedding/birthday party.

You pay for it, I'll totally come."

Mark Wahlberg: "Okay."

Mila Kunis: "I think it's so good. Come on, Mark."

Mark Wahlberg: "We'll think about that. That's a good date."

Mila Kunis: "I'll babysit."

Mark Wahlberg: "See, I don't trust you around my kids."

Mila Kunis: "What? I love your kids. They're great."

Mark Wahlberg: "Not a chance."

Getting into this boys club, do you have to out-macho them?

Mila Kunis: "I don't need to try to out-macho them. I mean, look at right here. Who's machoer? Me. I am very tough, as Mark will tell you. Yes, of course. I am so not a tough person. Yeah, it's a little hard but I'm used to, from '70s, being around so many boys all the time. I'm used to a different relationship. I'm just more used to being picked on and being like ha ha and just more funny versus trying to kick ass and pretend like I'm really tough and know what I'm doing.

Like I never had to do that in life. And this was definitely the first time ever where I was like, 'Okay, this is very strange and very unknown territory to me.' But I liked it because it was such a challenge but I did, I liked it a lot. I hated the clothes so much. What made me feel empowered was the gun, not the clothes. Like if I had the gun, it didn't matter what your size was, what your stature was. As long as I was holding the weapon, I win, so that was really great. But the heels sucked. Oh my God, it was awful. And like five inches of snow in five inch heels, you can't look sexy and you can't look like you know what you're doing because you're fall and I'm klutzy. It's bad."

Were you apprehensive about the stigma of video game movies?

Mark Wahlberg: "It wasn't really brought to my attention how many movies had actually been adapted from games. When I read the script, a bit of a red flag popped up only because I grew up playing Atari and Pacman and Asteroids and there's not much of a story there. But seeing this game and realizing how elaborate the story is and how cinematic it is and how much games have changed, I don't care where the stories come from as long as they're interesting and there's fresh ways to tell them. There's only so many stories to tell anyway, but obviously knowing how important this game is for a lot of the die hard game fans, we obviously wanted to satisfy them and then hopefully introduce a bunch of other people through the movie to the game."