Opening this weekend is director Michael Bay’s fantastic dark comedy Pain & Gain. The film is based on a crazy true story and stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson as two bodybuilders who get caught up in an extortion ring and kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong. Pain and Gain also stars Anthony Mackie, Rebel Wilson, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Ken Jeong, and Bar Paly. For more on the film, watch some clips or the red-band trailer.
Recently, I landed an exclusive phone interview with Johnson and Wahlberg. We talked about how the craziest stuff is true, the way they prepared for the role, whether they were nervous to play these characters, collaborating with Michael Bay, future projects like Ted 2, Hercules, G.I. Joe 3, and more. In addition, I asked Wahlberg if we can get Johnson walking around in the background of Transformers 4 so that there can eventually be a G.I. Joe/Transformers movie. Hit the jump for what they had to say.
DWAYNE JOHNSON: Thank you man. I appreciate it.
When you think of Michael Bay movies, you think crazy action and beautiful women, but not necessarily great performances. It’s more about the special effects. But I think the thing that really struck me about Pain and Gain was how great all the performances were, led by both of you. Talk a little about preparing for the role and your reaction to seeing the finished film.
JOHNSON: Okay, so in my prep for the movie I was coming off of GI Joe. My prep for the movie – I probably prepped for about 8-10 weeks – was to change my diet around, my training around. Now I’ll just talk about the physical prep. This guy spent a lot of time in prison. Those guys that spent time in prison, their diets are shit, the food is the shits. However, a lot of those guys who are in prison jack iron all day. When they get out, they’re big and dangerous. That’s what I wanted him to be. Then, from an acting standpoint, I read the material, I loved the material, and for me it was a great departure from what I generally played, characters I generally played in the past, so, one that was very complex and had a lot of shit going on in his mind, and continuously falling and tripping, making poor decisions. That type of type of practice, so with Michael, I’m very very excited to play that type of role.
Mark, do you have anything?
MARK WAHLBERG: Yeah. I read it on the set of Broken City where I was trying to be as dense as possible, and setting a record. And so, I tried to follow it as much as possible. I was just piling on the weight and eating as many meals as possible, taking weight gain, and all that good stuff.
One of the things that’s also gonna surprise people about the movie is that the craziest stuff that happens in it is true. And maybe you guys had a little more leeway in playing the non-crazy stuff. Can you talk about the fact that so much of what we’re going to see on-screen is true?
WAHLBERG: It’s pretty wild. I was reading an article today that the writers who wrote the articles in the Miami Times and they were talking about some of the stuff that they had to take out but they changed it because they were just too crazy and too outrageous and people wouldn’t believe it.
This movie is obviously based on a true story. Was there any apprehension from either of you about portraying these people or taking the role, or was this something you relished?
JOHNSON: I was down here in Miami when all of this went down. I was at the University of Miami when this went down. We knew a lot of individuals who were working out at the Sun Gym at the time. A lot of the Miami Police Department was working out at the Sun Gym at that time. It was a very infamous place. The events and the trial rocked the city. So I was familiar with it when I read it, and, honestly, excited at the challenge and the opportunity of bringing the story to life. Because at the end of the day, we have to remember that the individuals who committed these horrific crimes got what they deserved. Two of them are sitting on death row and will eventually die. It’s well deserved, and, the other ones have paid their price.
WAHLBERG: And I don’t intend to be insensitive to the victims and their families but, at the same time, as an actor, it’s our job, and we are obligated to portray the characters in the most realistic way possible. And playing characters that are so over-the-top outrageous is something that I look forward to as an actor. You don’t get to do it all that often so, you try to remain sensitive to the people that were hurt while also remaining true to the story.
One of the things about Michael Bay, which maybe neither of you knew before going in, is how quickly he works. Can you talk about collaborating with someone who just does not slow down and wants to get as many setups as possible per day?
WAHLBERG: It was great for me. I like working that way too. I don’t enjoy doing nothing or sitting in my trailer watching ESPN. I like being out at work so the pace was great for me.
JOHNSON: Working with a guy like Michael who, he comes as advertised, his reputation precedes him, like all of our reputations by the way. You get on set. He’s an intense shooter, very knowledgeable, extraordinarily proficient at shooting. As a technique, his job is leap-frogging where, as he’s shooting a scene, he’s prepping for another scene. He’s prepping for another shot at the same time. I liken him to some of the great coaches I’ve played for in the past who are intense guys, they get loud, and they pull out the best in their athletes, like Michael does.
I never asked this question, but because of this film and some of the shit you guys do and say, but was there a scene that was a favorite for both of you, just because there was some crazy shit?
JOHNSON: I would say, there’s a couple of scenes, but it would have to be, one where Mark, or Daniel Lugo is actually having a witness, what were you doing when we had that big meeting?
WAHLBERG: No, the neighborhood watch.
JOHNSON: It’s the gate. When Mark’s character has to actually hold the neighborhood watch – that shit with all the neighbors – and to think that that really happened, and that a man moved into another man’s house and took over his life is just unbelievable. Then the second part would have to be when Paul Doyle, my character, grilling the hands, on public.
Yeah, all that stuff is insane. It’s just crazy. I put on Twitter and Facebook that I’d be talking to you guys and I got a bunch of questions I’d like to ask a few. Some of my friends who live in New England have eaten at Wahlburgers and they speak very highly of it. So the question is, will it come to LA?
WAHLBERG: Eventually yes, but we’re starting by expanding in the New England area first. We plan to have 50 or 60 in that area before we go out west.
JOHNSON: It’s not possible for me because I’m shooting Hercules this summer starting in 6 weeks in Budapest so, optimally for them I’m not too sure. I haven’t heard anything from them. I’m pretty sure I would have gotten a phone call early in the morning if that was the real plan, not quite too sure though.
And obviously, what do you think will be the success of the next GI Joe, and Mark, what can you tease us with for the next Transformers?
WAHLBERG: Michael doesn’t want me to say anything about it (laughs). Just that we’re making it.
JOHNSON: Yeah man, we’re very excited about G.I. Joe. As you know, Frosty, because we talked about this a year ago, we took a risk by postponing it. We all thought that the movie could get better. Everyone went back to the drawing board and circled their wagons and made a better movie. We rolled the dice and it paid off and-
WAHLBERG: It paid off for both of us.
JOHNSON: (laughs) Oh yeah. Why, because you got Transformers?
WAHLBERG: No, then you moved up that date and Ted got bumped up two weeks.
JOHNSON: That’s right. See? We moved up that date, Ted got bumped up two weeks, and then opened with $50 million plus (laughs).
So let’s jump into two quick things about sequels. Mark, what are you looking forward to or what do you know about the sequel to Ted? And Dwayne, are you thinking about what you’d like to see in a sequel to G.I. Joe, which Paramount has said is going to happen?
JOHNSON: What we would love to do with the sequel to G.I. Joe, which will definitely happen. We set ourselves up really well with this last G.I. Joe, because we really paid attention respected homage to the mythology. And now that we’ve redesigned that foundation of the mythology, now there are many places to go. It’s phenomenal the G.I. Joe characters who we can bring to life. We’re all talking about it now and certainly using the 3D platform in even better ways for the next one so, I’m very excited about that.
WAHLBERG: Ted is gonna be outrageous. It gets crazier and crazier. We’re coming up with ideas now.
This will be my last question for both of you. What’s your 2013 looking like in terms of projects, producing, etc. Can you sort of lay it out for your fans?
WAHLBERG: Very busy (laughs). We’re gonna spend most of the time shooting Transformers and producing a couple pilots.
JOHNSON: Very busy as well. I second that motion. In the first 2 weeks coming out next summer, I hope we’ll be shooting an executive season of The Hero, getting involved in more television, producing more, working on a project with my good buddy here who still has yet to share with me any of his wahlburgers or his mark’s supplement line or his water line with P. Diddy I haven’t gotten a fucking thing. However, we will be working together on a really cool project for HBO.
Cool. I gotta go, but before I do, Mark, you gotta convince Michael to have an easter egg of Dwayne walking around in the background of Transformers 4 so that there could be in the future a G.I. Joe/Transformers movie.
WAHLBERG: I like that. That’s a possibility.
JOHNSON: I like how you’re thinking.
Yeah, I’m totally serious about this. Mark, you can pitch this to Bay. He might listen to you.
WAHLBERG: A good idea right about now.
Good idea on Pain and Gain guys, it’s really fantastic, and you guys have a great day.
WAHLBERG: Thank you.
JOHNSON: You too, buddy. Good talking to you.
For more on Pain and Gain, watch our exclusive video interview with Michael Bay.