BOSTON (CBS) — Actor/producer Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg have teamed up twice before for films that dramatize true stories of heroism–but the two said there was a lot of discussion about how to get Patriots Day, their upcoming movie about the Boston Marathon bombings, right.
On CBS This Morning Monday, Berg and Wahlberg said they had a lot of conversations about when and how to tell the story of the bombings, the manhunt for the suspects, and the journey of the survivors. Wahlberg said the feeling that it was “too soon”–only three-and-a-half years after the bombings–was a major concern.
“We felt like, because of everything that’s happening all over the world, that it’s really not soon enough, because this is a message of love and people coming together,” said Wahlberg.
Since he’s from Boston, Wahlberg said the pressure to tell the story in an accurate and respectful way was greater than any film he’d ever worked on.
“Of course, me being from Boston and knowing that I would be held accountable personally, it was a lot of pressure, certainly more pressure than I’ve ever felt,” he said. “Everybody knows somebody who was directly affected by this, it’s such a small community … but I knew from my work experience with Pete that he was the right guy for the job because of how much he cares.”
Berg, who Wahlberg called “an honorary Bostonian” for having directed the film, said he also felt that pressure.
“It’s the third film that we’ve worked on, and Mark, who’s one of the hardest-working people I know, he and all of us worked a lot harder,” said Berg. “I felt his pressure and all of us wanted so much to get it right for the men and women of that Boston community, the police officers and firefighters.”
The director also said that he and Wahlberg wanted to be unapologetic in their support of law enforcement in the film.
“Something we both feel strongly about, clearly there’s some issues with law enforcement, but I think that that brush has been a little too wide as of late,” said Berg. “We’re more than happy to push back and remind people that what we saw in Boston, or what we saw on 9/11 here in New York, what we saw in Tampa, or San Bernadino, are examples of the very best of law enforcement, and a reminder that when we’re in trouble, these are the men and women we call.”
Berg said that meeting the real people behind the characters in the film–like Dun Meng, who escaped from the Tsarnaev brothers after being carjacked, and quite possibly helped avoid another bombing in New York–“you can’t help but feel it.”
Wahlberg and Berg met with several of the survivors of the attacks in order to make sure the film was respectful and honored their wishes. One such meeting, with Bill Richard, father of youngest bombing victim Martin Richard, led to changes in the script.
“He was very clear about what he was comfortable with or not comfortable with,” said Wahlberg. “He didn’t want any people, any actors depicting him, his children. Initially that was part of the script, and Pete and I said absolutely, whatever you wish, we just took it right out of the script, we wanted to honor exactly what he was asking us.”
Wahlberg said he hopes audiences leave the theater with hope and optimism after seeing Patriots Day.
“I think that we’re living in a crazy time,” he said “These things may continue to happen, but if people continue to come together, love will always be the outcome.”
Also starring in the film are Michelle Monaghan as nurse Carol Saunders, John Goodman as Police Commissioner Ed Davis, Kevin Bacon as FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers, and J.K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese.
The movie will be released in theaters in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles on December 21, and will have a nationwide opening January 13.
Patriots Day is being produced by WBZ-TV’s sister company CBS Films.