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Director Allen Hughes of the new movie ‘Broken City’ admits that as he read the script, he immediately saw Mark Wahlberg in the role of Billy. “So I went out to Mark and we sat down and started the journey of making ‘Broken City’,” says the filmmaker.
“Allen sent the script to me and said, ‘I see you in this part; do you want to do this thing together?” Wahlberg remembers. Moreover, Wahlberg felt such a connection to the character and material that he came onboard as a producer, working closely with Hughes to put together the project.
“One thing that I love about Mark’s acting is that he embodies the true spirit of the underdog,” reveals Hughes. “There’s an endearing quality about him and when he smiles he lights up an entire room. Mark had never before done anything quite like this, and that also was interesting to me. Mark has this innate ability to surprise audiences, and that’s what his role in ‘Broken City’ called for.”
“I love the fact that Billy is unapologetic,” says Wahlberg. “He does whatever it takes to right the wrong he committed years ago. From his private detective agency in Brooklyn he watches what’s going on in the city and the life that he used to have, and he misses that. Investigating the mayor’s wife offers not only a big payday, but a chance to get back his old life.”
But as Billy soon learns, the mayor’s offer hides a much more sinister intent, one that will require Billy to summon inner resources untapped since his days as a cop.
Ultimately, he and the mayor in the film, played by Russell Crowe, will face off in a battle that will put Billy to the test. Hughes knew that a Wahlberg-Crowe on-screen confrontation would be electrifying. During his first meeting with Crowe, Hughes found that Crowe could hold court at a dinner party as masterfully as any seasoned politician. “He’s a riveting storyteller and it was the biggest surprise for me to mine that, because that quality of Russell has rarely been seen.”
Crowe didn’t base his performance on a specific public figure, instead opting to study the lives of several New York City officials. He explains: “I went back for the last fifty years and I looked at their schooling, where they came from and how they connected to people. ‘Broken City’ s Mayor Hostetler is part Queens and part Wall Street. He’s an absolute populist with elitist lifestyle habits that he’s come to appreciate and expect. We all know the old cliché that power corrupts, but it’s very interesting when the person that’s doing the corrupting believes that this is benign corruption for a higher purpose.”
Crowe brought not only his impressive skills but his larger-than-life persona to the role. “Russell is one of the greatest living actors, and he’s also very charming,” says Wahlberg. “On set, he was the mayor. He certainly charms my character Billy, but once he realizes the mayor is corrupt, Billy has got to take him down. There’s no more formidable opponent than Russell and the movie is really about us going at it.”