Hubbub: Mark Wahlberg, Extended Interview

When you work on a Boston movie, do you take a different level of pride in it? Well, certainly playing Irish Micky Ward [for The Fighter, out in December]. There’s an awful lot of pride in that, an awful lot of responsibility. But the story is so amazing, what he was able to overcome, growing up in Lowell and being able to accomplish his dream in becoming a world champion.

[sidebar] Did you have to do any boxing training for it in the gym? I trained for four and a half years to make that movie.

Did you really? Yeah, I mean, look, I wanted to, I wanted to look like a world-class fighter. Micky and his brother Dickie lived at my house for a while. I was doing other movies, and I’d wake up at 4 in the morning and go to the gym for 2 hours and go shoot for 12 hours. I lived and breathed boxing for four and a half years, trying to get this movie made.

Maybe if this acting thing doesn’t work out for you, you can get into boxing. Ah. It’s a tough racket, boy I tell you. Our goal was to make it the most realistic, believable boxing ever shot in a film, and I certainly think we did that.

Is part of you at least tempted to fight in a live match? Well I certainly got in there, mixed it up with a lot of great boxers. We were sparring, you know, 10 rounds a day, with 3 different guys, and then I’d do 15 rounds of additional mitt work, and jumping rope, running 6, 7, 8 miles a day. We trained. Micky Ward and I were in the ring a lot and those guys, they don’t play around.

My next big idea to make a fortune is to promote you and Micky Ward in a pay-per-view fight. I think we could sell that. Well, I’ve been trying to get my friend Tie Domi, the hockey player. I’ve been trying to get him in the ring with me.

That we could sell. Yeah, he keeps saying that he wants to do it, let’s do it at the Air Canada Centre, but you know, what he didn’t realize was that obviously boxing and fighting on ice — you know, holding a guy with one hand and punching him with the other — are two totally different things.

Right. I just tapped him with a body shot and the wind was knocked out of him. Nobody wants to get caught with that and then have an actor ruin his mystique. He’s obviously, in Canada and in the hockey world, considered one of the baddest guys to do it. But stepping into a boxing ring is a whole other animal.

You would not want to be responsible for puncturing Canada’s self-confidence. But you could probably pack that arena with pretty much every player in the NHL and get them rooting for you, from what I’ve watched over the years of Tie Domi. Oh, yeah. But he’s a great guy; he’s a good, good friend of mine.

So have you been in the ring much with him, or just sort of once, and you got him and he was like, enough? We weren’t even in the ring! We were just messing around; I’ve been trying to get him to the ring.