Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Jack McGee talk ‘The Fighter’ at first industry screening

Posted by · 10:41 am · November 11th, 2010

David O. Russell’s “The Fighter” may have had its first public screening Tuesday as an AFI Fest “secret” event (with plenty of press in attendance), but last night’s SAG nominating committee screening on the Paramount lot has been on the calendar for most the past week.  Naturally, it was a packed house, which can be owed in part to the presence of the film’s cast for a post-screening Q&A.

I came late just for the Q&A, which was moderated by Deadline’s Pete Hammond.  Melissa Leo couldn’t be there due to a filming conflict in New Orleans but she passed along her apologies in an email Hammond read to applause from the crowd.  Much of the discussion naturally circled around performances, given the audience, and Hammond again made the (valid) point that the film is a character piece more than a “boxing movie.”

Mark Wahlberg talked plenty about the film’s long journey to the screen, the fact that he had to spring for it himself as producer in order to get it made and his long-time relationship with Micky Ward (who he’s known since he was a teenager).  Rather than take the cheap route with a Toronto shoot, Wahlberg was adamant that the film be shot in Lowell, Massachusetts, the story’s setting, because the environment is such a character in and of itself.

He also was having a hard time deciding who to cast as Ward’s half-brother, Dicky Eklund, until it clicked one day — his daughter goes to the same school as Christian Bale’s daughter.  Noting that Bale has gone to some dark places (physically, as well) in films like “The Machinist” and “Rescue Dawn,” he felt Bale would be perfect for the role.

Meanwhile, Bale (his hair strikingly long and full, contrasting with the bald spot he showcases in the film) actually pushed back a bit when it came to audience questions regarding those “dark places.”  Someone inevitably asked the tired query, “How do you come back from those places?  Are you ever afraid you won’t be able to snap out of it?”  For Bale, coming out of the morose performances is easy, because who wants to stay in that kind of funk?  But with Eklund (who Bale likes very much and says he plans to know for many years to come), the actor found a buoyant, light spirit who may have lived through some dark times but never lost that trademark levity.  So in fact, he almost didn’t want to snap out of it when filming was finished.

Adams said she was happy Wahlberg saw “that side” of her personality when he offered her the role of hard-as-nails girlfriend/bartender Charlene.  Adams, of course, is known for perky and precious depictions in films like “Doubt,” “Enchanted” and “Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day,” so for her to be tattooed, donning belly shirts and slugging it out in cat fight brawls with Ward’s colorful family, it’s a departure, to say the least (which ought to be great fuel for her awards cause).

McGee, meanwhile, was all laughs and jokes.  The New York firefighter-turned character actor endearingly called director Russell a “whack job” and seemed humbled and gracious to be a part of this cast and to be on stage with them last night.

It was a solid first stop on the circuit and the crowd really responded to the work.  We’ll see how it goes from here.  I’ve included audio of the Q&A below.


(Meanwhile, here is Mike Fleming talking to Wahlberg at Deadline.)

[Photo: Paramount Pictures]

→ 32 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

32 responses so far

  • 1 11-11-2010 at 11:19 am

    Jake G. said...

    I hope HEREAFTER gets best picture nomination!

  • 2 11-11-2010 at 11:22 am

    Tye-Grr said...

    ^Random as hell, Jake.

  • 3 11-11-2010 at 11:36 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yeah, let’s, you know, keep it on track.

  • 4 11-11-2010 at 12:17 pm

    Rob said...

    GET LOW sucks.

  • 5 11-11-2010 at 12:23 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Jake was obviously thinking about “The Fighter,” which got him thinking about boxing movies, which got him thinking about Clint Eastwood, which naturally got him thinking about “Hereafter.” Perfectly logical connection.

    Back on topic, really glad to see Adams switching it up a little — even her good-girl roles have been more interesting when laced with a little sadness and/or sourness, as in Junebug or Sunshine Cleaning.

  • 6 11-11-2010 at 12:27 pm

    Drew said...

    Oh now it all makes sense. Thank you Guy.

  • 7 11-11-2010 at 12:55 pm

    kel said...

    i believe, sadly, that adams and/or leo will push Jacki Weaver out of the Oscar race. therefore, we’ll have:

    Amy Adams, The Fighter
    Melissa Leo, The Fighter
    Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
    Barbara Hershey, Black Swan
    Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

    and if Lesley Manville gets bumped to supporting, she’ll likely replace Hershey

  • 8 11-11-2010 at 1:00 pm

    Michael said...

    I really liked Amy Adams in Sunshine Cleaning, I just wish that movie hadn’t been so much of a mess (no joke intended.) Christian Bale sometimes comes across when I read impressions of him from writers or see him in interviews as an extremely SERIOUS person. Not saying that is a bad thing (and I admire him as an actor quite a lot) but it kind of makes me uneasy when I try to watch an interview with him. I hope this film turns out to be entertaining and that good things come of it from everyone involved.

  • 9 11-11-2010 at 1:34 pm

    The Great Dane said...

    Does Christian Bale have a mission in life to just remain unlikable?

    Great to hear Wahlberg seem so enthusiastic, even though I don’t think he’s a good actor at all. I still shutter to think that he starred in a film opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga and Matt Damon – and he was the only actor nominated!

    Hoping to see Adams nominated. She should have been nominated for Enchanted. Can’t wait to see her land a Lead Actress nomination one day.

  • 10 11-11-2010 at 1:35 pm

    The Great Dane said...

    To Michael:

    No way Jacki Weaver will get pushed out. Haven’t you heard? She sets the screen ablaze. :)

  • 11 11-11-2010 at 1:47 pm

    RR said...

    @The Great Dane

    What does Bale say that makes him sound “unlikable”? He sounds quite relaxed during the interview and quite funny in several parts.

    I don’t think Bale has an accent put on for an upcoming role-he’s just slurring his words a lot for some reason.

  • 12 11-11-2010 at 1:53 pm

    RR said...

    I think he’s been hanging around the real Dickie Ecklund too much.

  • 13 11-11-2010 at 1:55 pm

    seanflynn said...

    Variety and Hollywood Reporter have now posted decidely mixed reviews – the former calling it a mess, the latter saying if Wahlberg really really promotes it hard it might get one or two nominations.

    It’s unusual to see such a disconnect between blogger reports and the trades, but most of the time in V & HR have the same opinion, that’s going to be close to the Metacritic consensus. And if that’s the case, this is likely to be far less of a contender than the hype so far has indicated.

  • 14 11-11-2010 at 2:02 pm

    tony rock said...

    What I find disingenuous about those two reviews is they conveniently don’t discuss the parts of the film that everyone else is raving about.

  • 15 11-11-2010 at 2:43 pm

    M.Harris said...

    As a movie lover and boxing fan; I am looking forward to this movie. I saw a documentary. On Dick Eglund. On HBO. A few years back.

    I’m interested in Christian Bale’s portrayal of him. Also interested in seeing if Mark Wahlberg
    captures the true essence of Mickey Ward.

  • 16 11-11-2010 at 3:26 pm

    Colin said...

    I actually thought the reviews were pretty accurate and bloggers have more been reporting the audience enjoying the film. I haven’t seen too many really passionately pushing it. Not ones I respect, anyway.

  • 17 11-11-2010 at 3:42 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “I don’t think Bale has an accent put on for an upcoming role…”
    Yes, he does. It’s not something I’d just write without confirming it.

    seanflynn: Let’s not forget that Variety is working with a new set. It’s not the Todd show all the time. But regardless, you’re putting way too much on the trades, which don’t mean much in this scheme. It’s a contender. I’ve heard two distinctly different crowds react enthusiastically to it.

    M. Harris: That doc is used as a way into the narrative, the film crew following him throughout the film. So consider yourself ahead of the curve going in.

  • 18 11-11-2010 at 3:46 pm

    Mr. Gittes said...

    Kris: What film is Christian Bale working on right now? Good ol’ IMDB says nothing.

  • 19 11-11-2010 at 3:53 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Didn’t ask. Think it’s a preparation thing. He’s quirky.

  • 20 11-11-2010 at 3:57 pm

    H said...

    “I actually thought the reviews were pretty accurate and bloggers have more been reporting the audience enjoying the film. I haven’t seen too many really passionately pushing it. Not ones I respect, anyway.”

    So what exactly is it that causes you to “respect” one particular reviewer and not another, other than having a prominent byline? I see no evidence that Peter DeBruge in Variety, for example, has any special insight or importance as a reviewer of movies, or is in any way worthy of an extra dollop of respect. It should be the talent that confers prestige on the publication, not the other way around.

    A person could be a blogger, an IMDB poster, or an anonymous reviewer, and potentially have more genuine ability as a film writer than someone who just happens to write for Variety. I read the Variety review, and nothing DeBruge wrote revealed any above-average gift for film analysis. I fail to see anything worthy of extra “respect” on your part, unless you’re simply easily, and unjustifiably, impressed by somebody’s “insider” status.

  • 21 11-11-2010 at 8:02 pm

    Mike said...

    With two supporting nominations (and a possible third this year), I think that as soon as Amy Adams knocks it out of the park and is nominated for lead, she’ll win. That could easily happen for the Janis Joplin movie.

  • 22 11-11-2010 at 11:16 pm

    SamIam said...

    Gotta agree with H! Well said.

  • 23 11-12-2010 at 6:05 am

    John said...

    Hey kristopher I watched the screening at AFI Fest and was completely blown away by everyone’s performance. Hopefully Bale gets nominated this time but I doubt he will win for some reason. Did Bale seemed annoyed when people kept asking him the same question?

  • 24 11-12-2010 at 10:10 am

    Colin said...

    No need to be nasty, H, was merely saying that the one really passionate review I read was by someone I don’t happen to respect because he frequently misspells and didn’t really critique the movie, talked more about how much he loves boxing. That’s all. I just happened to agree with the Variety and THR reviews. Maybe “take” it “easy” on the “quotes”.

  • 25 11-12-2010 at 10:13 am

    John2 said...

    Kris, my friend just interviewed Christian and he specifically said he had no other roles lined up and isn’t in preparation. She asked him about his accent and he said it was just “muddled” that night because he was thinking of Dickie and mixing it with his natural accent.

  • 26 11-12-2010 at 11:18 am

    John said...

    @ John2: Yeah I had a feeling Bale was just mimicking. His English accent wasn’t 100 % compared to his radio interviews. How did your friend interview Bale by the way? Was he/she at the Q&A?

  • 27 11-12-2010 at 12:06 pm

    OC said...

    Subsitute Vertigo for 2001 or Some like it hot…….those films grew in stature as the years went on and not Around the world in 80 days or Gigi.

  • 28 11-12-2010 at 12:07 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    John2: Then what, his team is lying? Weird. Total non-issue, in any case.

  • 29 11-12-2010 at 3:24 pm

    John2 said...

    I don’t know if she stuck around for the Q&A but she was interviewing him for a cover story for her magazine beforehand. She’s interviewed him 5 times now and thinks he’s the greatest.

  • 30 11-12-2010 at 6:05 pm

    John Makanuchi said...

    that’s cool that she said he’s the greatest. it’s a shame that people think bale is an ass because of his personal incidents. I’m excited for his potential oscar nomination. it’s about fuckin time

  • 31 11-15-2010 at 5:09 am

    tony rock said...

    Umm, of course Bale has a role lined up…The Dark Knight Rises is set to begin filming next April.