Director Antoine Fuqua and Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) were going to work together on a different film - By Any Means Necessary, which they still may do together at some point - when the script for Shooter caught Wahlberg's eye. Wahlberg was unfamiliar with the Stephen Hunter book the film's based on, but the story really grabbed his attention.
In Shooter, Wahlberg stars as Bob Lee Swagger, a retired military sniper who's called back into duty to try and help government agents stop the President from being assassinated. But things aren't as they appear, and Swagger's forced to defend himself by any means necessary while figuring out who framed him and why.
The Physical Side of Filming Shooter: Wahlberg says he didn’t really get hurt making this film. “Compared to Invincible, it was nothing. It was a walk in the park. But getting down to be as thin as I was for the movie, that was difficult. Then of course there was all the mental prep, learning everything that snipers need to know in the short amount of time that we had. It was a lot of running and jumping in this one.”
Mark Wahlberg Rates His Shooting Skills: “I could shoot pretty good before, but I had never gone through sniper training before. And yeah, I can hit a target at like 1,500 to 2,000 yards.”
Filming on a Glacier: The cast and crew actually worked on a real 7,000 foot tall glacier above Whistler, B C. “We were up there forever,” said Wahlberg. “It was scary, and I don't like flying in helicopters either, and you had to chopper up and chopper down. When the weather came in it was pretty scary.”
The glacier scene was a tough scene for Wahlberg, but he had a couple others that were equally as difficult. “Working and keeping a straight face with Levon Helm was extremely difficult and any time after getting shot up until when I get to Sarah's house was difficult. Playing up the pain makes you feel kind of silly always. It's like, 'What's going to be seen as real and what's not?' We didn't shoot it in order and we were kind of jumping around constantly, and being able to go back and look at stuff and remember what level of pain I was in at the time or how close to death he was getting [was difficult].”
What Drives His Character: “Honor and integrity definitely, and he won't compromise for anyone. I just love the character. I felt like I hadn't seen that in a while. I think that the audience can certainly relate, which is why I saw men and women cheering almost uncontrollably when I shot-gunned [spoiler deleted]. You should have seen the test screening. It was like, 'Yeah! F**king kill him! Yes!' I ran out of the theater because I couldn't be there at the end. But, wow, I can't wait to see it. I want to see it in like Times Square.”
Working with Michael Pena: “We just clicked. Spent a lot of golf time together. I really admire how committed he is to his work. It was a well-written part and a part that I would've loved to have played and that I would've chased five or six years ago. I thought that we were really lucky to get him because I know he's already been in some great films in a short amount of time. I feel like I can take some of the credit for his success. He's going to be a big star.”
Wahlberg’s support was part of the reason Pena landed the part. “They certainly asked me what my opinion was and we certainly read with a bunch of people. I just wanted the best person for the part. I wanted the best possible chemistry between myself and whoever was going to be in the part. We read with a bunch of people and he just nailed it, and everyone felt that strongly about him being the guy.”
The Film’s Political Overtones: Asked for his take on the tone of the movie Wahlberg replied, “I thought that it was great. I thought that especially if young people want to come in and see me kick some a** and get a little information at the same time, it just kind of makes you wonder if these things are really possible. They go out and ask some questions and demand some answers. And if you really want to go make some changes, maybe it'll inspire people to want to go out there and vote and do something.”
It’s All a Conspiracy: Shooter Wahlberg admits to being into conspiracies. “I am. I am, but that could be a dangerous game. David O'Russell has this other great idea. He wants to do this movie with me about this guy who - Gianni Russo - who was in The Godfather and played the brother-in-law, the one that came back, and he hung out with Sinatra and with the Kennedys and all of this stuff. He has a whole other take on what really happened to Marilyn Monroe, JFK and Robert Kennedy. It's crazy. So…I went to church today and I'm in a really good mood and giving people the benefit of the doubt, that people are honest and honorable, but ask me that again tomorrow or Tuesday and it might be different.”
If He’d Exhausted All Legal Means…: Would he be capable of taking care of the problem himself? “Again, it's Sunday. That's a Wednesday question. But no, I would hate to be put in a situation where I had to do something like that. God forbid, if something happened to my children or something happened to someone who couldn't defend themselves, I don't think that I would be that quick to be reasonable or be so forgiving. But that's what I'm supposed to do and that's what I practice.”