In the crime drama “Broken City,” Mark Wahlberg plays Billy Taggart, a former New York City cop who left the police department under a cloud of suspicion and controversy after he shot and killed a man who was accused of rape and murder. Billy was kept out of jail by New York City’s corrupt Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (played by Oscar winner Russell Crowe), who clashes with police captain Carl Fairbanks (played by Jeffrey Wright).
Years after the shooting incident, Billy is now a private investigator whose business is struggling and in deep financial trouble. When the mayor hires Billy to investigate the mayor’s wife Cathleen (played by Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones) and her extra-marital activities, Billy jumps at the chance to repay the favor that the mayor granted him. It isn’t long before Billy finds himself embroiled in a scandal that goes much farther than the suspected infidelity of the mayor’s wife. Here is what Wahlberg, Crowe and Zeta-Jones and Wright had to say about “Broken City.”
Interview With Mark Wahlberg
What attracted you to “Broken City”?
Wahlberg: You immediately become engrossed in the story, all the layers and the characters. You’re trying to figure out who’s going to do what and to whom. It’s one of those complicated page-turners. These are the kinds of movies I grew up watching with my dad. And these are the kinds of things that inspired me to become an actor, playing these kinds of parts. I just found it fascinating.
How does the journey begin in “Broken City”?
Wahlberg: In the very beginning of the movie, the opening shot of the movie, he [Billy] is still a police officer. And then you cut to him in Staten Island, kind of schlepping around, spying on people who are having extramarital affairs. He’s not happy with what he’s doing.
And he when he gets the call from the mayor, he’s thrilled. The mayor promised him early on that when [Billy] resigned (and he was lucky that he was able to resign), and when he gets that call from the mayor he’s rally excited about the opportunity and the chance to get back into the city and make a difference again. And that’s not necessarily the case.
What can you say about the opportunity for Billy to be hired by the mayor for an investigation job?
Wahlberg: Billy’s very good at what he does. It’s just like when the system fails, the case like the one where you find out later on why Billy was forced to leave the [police] department, sometimes you have to take justice into your own hands. And he wants the opportunity to remind the mayor of how talented he is, how much he cares.
So there is that and just the ability to cross that bridge again, to be in the city. It’s a little bit more exciting; it’s a little bit more meaningful. But even though he starts to dig, that’s when the mayor makes a mistake and realizes that the mayor’s got another card up his sleeve that he’s got to do something about this. He’s not the guy who’s going to turn the other cheek.
Do you think Billy underestimates the mayor?
Wahlberg: I don’t think he necessarily underestimates him. I think he just trusts in him. He believes him — this guy who’s an elected official — is doing the right thing. He’s trying to make the city a better place for the residents of New York. He believes that.
Interview With Russell Crowe
What was it like working with Catherine Zeta-Jones?
Crowe: I love Catherine. I think she’s fantastic. We’ve known each other for a long, long time, since we were very young, but we never worked together. We’ve always had the desire to. For this to pop up. It’s so funny because many things had come up in the past, but it’s always been about us being a love interest. So here it is, we finally get to make a movie together, and we [our characters] are at each other’s throats
Interview With Catherine Zeta-Jones
What attracted you to “Broken City”?
Zeta-Jones: I read the script. And first of all, I went, “Who is this writer?” As you do, you read a lot of scripts, and it was just so well-written. And at the end of the day, as an actor, that’s what you look for. And then knowing that Allen Hughes was going to direct it, and Mark Wahlberg was going to be in it — this was before Russell [Crowe] came on board — it was a slam-dunk for me.
I just thought it was smart, intelligent. I always wanted to work with Allen, and of course with Mark, and Russell, whom I’ve known since I was a very young lady. When he was on board and all of those elements came together, it was just, “Tell me where to turn up.”
How does Cathleen’s relationship with her husband change?
Zeta-Jones: As the story unfolds, she turns on the mayor for personal reasons, with the knowledge about his corruption. And she’s trying to find the truth about her personal life and tell the truth about what’s going on to the outside world.
What was it like working with Russell Crowe?
Zeta-Jones: Russell, first of all, is a very powerful actor. I think, as versatile as he is, on screen, he has a strength — demanding and extremely charismatic at the same time. Working with him, he really has incredible charisma that he instills in the character that is very attractive. I think a great politician has great charisma.
Why do you think a movie like “Broken City” was made?
Zeta-Jones: Mark [Wahlberg] had a passion for it. Allen [Hughes] had a passion for it. The actors, myself included, fell in love with it. The writing is spectacular. It was all the elements that you want to see on the screen. It’s an adult movie. People talk intelligently. It’s edgy. It’s sexy.
Interview With Jeffrey Wright
What was it like working with the ensemble cast of “Broken City”?
Wright: There’s a lot of focused energy on the set among these actors. It’s really an ensemble I think that works in individual ways but works collectively to create a really powerful dynamic on screen. Certainly, we felt it on the set. It’s a very intense story, a gritty story, as you would expect from a kind of neo-noir detective story set in New York. All of the actors are bringing a lot to the table to make it happy.
Do you think of New York City as another character in “Broken City”?
Wright: Of course, New York is the greatest character actor ever. Any film that is shot in New York is elevated by the city.
For more info: “Broken City” website