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Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
July 17, 2010

In the action comedy The Other Guys, two marginalized detectives at the bottom of the food chain find themselves disrespected at every turn: pencil-pushing desk jockey Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) desperately represses his shady past as a campus pimp, while Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) belligerently works to shake his reputation as the laughingstock who accidentally shot baseball player Derek Jeter. But when a bookkeeping discrepancy hints at a larger conspiracy, Gamble and Hoitz are suddenly given a window of opportunity to redeem themselves through a case no one else cares to touch.

Directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights), The Other Guys also features Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson as the precinct's action hero alpha males, Michael Keaton as an unappreciated police captain who moonlights at Bed Bath and Beyond to put his bisexual son through college, and Eva Mendes as Gamble's illogically hot wife. Additionally, the movie lampoons various conventions of the genre, from the tactic of good cop/bad cop to the Hollywood stylization of flashy explosions.

In this interview, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, and Adam McKay talk about working on the project, and in particular, the action sequences.

MEDIA: Mark, did your previous experience in cop/action movies help in this role?

MARK: I obviously had a lot of fun making this movie. I certainly felt very comfortable when it came to anything coppish or action. But you know, with all the other stuff, I just basically wanted to follow their lead.

ADAM: It was funny, we'd be shooting a big giant action scene, and Will and I were like, "Wow, look at this, we're breaking a window!" And Mark would just come over almost yawning and be like, "Yeah, we did this one time, except I was being shot out of a cannon and I was on fire." "You know what, Mark? Let us have our fun, please."

How did you specifically approach the comedic aspects of Hoitz?

MARK: I basically just did whatever they told me--you know, I learned the lines, and I'd show up, and I'd say the lines, and then if they wanted me to try anything else, I'd certainly be willing to try anything.

MICHAEL: You know, let me say this, though...Let me jump in. Sorry...

MARK: Get in there, baby.

MICHAEL: I gotta tell you something: this guy's like ridiculously funny...

MARK: I'm killing it right now.

MICHAEL: Me and McKay and Will would go, "Who the f*ck knew this was in this guy?" You know what I mean?...Like, he does voices and impressions. I was knocked out. I was ready for this guy because when you look at him sometimes, you think, "He's nice enough, but he looks like he's going to kick my ass." And that doesn't feel, necessarily, you know...comfortable. But he's like ridiculously funny, and really funny in this movie.

MARK: Thank you, Michael.

MICHAEL: There's a scene where he starts to break down, and I'm doing this scene with him, and as he tears up... [laughs] You know, I'm like inside going, "This is crazy funny." And I gotta keep a straight face, and the guy has like tears in his eyes because he's so committed to his sickness.

Michael, you've done your share of cop roles in the past. Do you feel like you've come full circle having played the captain in this movie?

MICHAEL: Yeah, and if there was a higher rank, I think that would be even a more complete circle. That's what I really pushed for: commissioner. [laughs] You know, I've played a bunch of cops, but none on a set that was this much fun. They were all fun. I mean, I always have a good time on a movie, but this was...You know, I was talking to Letterman one day on the phone, and he said, "What are you doing?" And I said, "Oh man, I go to work in the morning, I start laughing, and then I come home thinking about the day laughing, and then I have a really nice meal, I stay in a really nice hotel, I wake up in the morning, and then I start it all over again." It's the most ridiculously great job in the world. It was just fun to show up...

Mark, did you have any input on the shooting of Derek Jeter?

MARK: No, but I was certainly thrilled to do it. And you know, I felt bad after because he's such a nice guy. But we are going to screen the movie in Boston on the third of August, and I cannot wait.

ADAM: It's going to be crazy.

MARK: I just became a legend in Boston.

Your character has an odd flair for ballet. Did you learn the moves?

MARK: Yeah. I thought it [would be] easier than it was. I trained with a guy for a while, and then when it came down to it, I just couldn't really deliver.

ADAM: That's not true. You're being a little hard on yourself. He actually did learn all the steps and had them pretty nice. It's just the jumps and the spins are--unless you're a world-class athlete--kind of impossible to do.

There's a great scene in which the cops are squabbling with each other, but trying to keep it quiet. What did you guys think of that "whisper fight"?

ADAM: Mark, do you want to talk about beating the crap out of Rob Riggle for three straight hours? Rob Riggle, but the way, a Marine--a special forces Marine who was in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo...

MARK: I choked the sh*t out of that big motherf***er. I choked the sh*t out of Will, too. [laughs]

What are some of your favorite cop films?

MARK: Probably The French Connection, or Serpico.

MICHAEL: It's not really a cop movie per se, but there's a little film that Dustin Hoffman did years ago called Straight Time. It's a really underrated performance. There's a scene where he looks at this gun and he's got to stay straight...It's awesome what he does in it, looking at that gun and knowing he wants to pick it up. It's really great.

ADAM: Homicide by David Mamet is another good one.

Mark, we understand you were quickly sold on this project...

MARK: Yeah, I didn't even want to read the script. They like said, "Would you be interested in doing a movie?" And I said, "Yeah." They said, "Well do you want to hear the idea first?" I said, "If you want to tell me. If not, we can just order dinner and drink some more wine." No, literally, I've always wanted to do a comedy, and to get an opportunity to work with these guys was just a dream come true.

Michael, did you want to read the script first?

MICHAEL: I read the script 77 times. No, I always read, then I get...not annoying, but I'm a tad thorough, and so I would have probably more conversations than were really necessary. [laughs] Because I really wanted to do it, but I'm a question asker. So I said, "Okay, let's do it, but I need to have certain things lined up." You know, it was really fundamental stuff: "How about this, how do you want to play that?" And then I was in.

Adam, both the movie poster and the conference room shootout scene seem reminiscent of a John Woo flick...

ADAM: Well, I think you can't do any action without in some way paying homage to John Woo. I mean, he's the guy who just invented that next level of poetic, nasty action. So yeah, the second we went slow motion...You know, our DP actually shot a couple John Woo movies, and my script supervisor worked on it. So we actually were talking about John Woo. The great thing he always does, too, is I love when he plays the beautiful song to counter the nasty action. And we could have done that for the whole movie. We did it with "Monday Monday" in the end. But I never got tired of it. So yeah, John Woo's around any action scene being shot.

What was the most challenging scene to set up and shoot?

ADAM: The opening chase was pretty crazy. There was a lot of things in that, so we storyboarded that over and over again. The one that was the most fun and tricky was the conference room shootout, because we shot that--first unit shot that. And that was another one where you had to storyboard. We had to go through dry runs like six, seven times, because once you shot that set up, it was done. And that was the most expensive set we had in the movie, was we re-created that whole Gehry building conference room. So that was both the most fun, and at the same time, the trickiest.

Related Material

Interview with Will Ferrell, Eva Mendes, and Adam McKay
Movie Coverage: The Other Guys


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