You're My People: Going Undercover
While neither Washington nor
Wahlberg are strangers to the action
genre, they knew that understanding the
world of deep undercover would take
expert educators. When the production
brought on board DEA technical
advisor RICHARD WOODFORK and
Navy SEAL technical advisor JAMIE
WALL, the cast and crew alike learned more about the
drug war than they could have imagined.
Recalls Washington: "Just observing Richard's
personality and his style was important. I was able to
ask him questions like 'How do you not get shot on the
job?' I think a lot of those men and women are, to a
degree, adrenaline junkies because they put themselves
in very dangerous situations. They thrive on that."
From Three Kings to Shooter, Wahlberg has spent a
good deal of time undergoing military-style training for
his film career. 2 Guns represents his latest effort, and
he was up for the challenge to train as and to portray
Petty Officer Michael Stigman. Wahlberg states that
it was Stig's commitment to his code that was most
reflective of the military the performer has grown to
know: "I had this mantra throughout the movie that I
wrote on the front of my script, which was 'duty, honor,
loyalty and trust.' Those things are very important to
Stig; there isn't anything that he wouldn't do for his
brothers, for his people."
With this project and the upcoming epic Lone
Survivor, Wahlberg shot two military-inspired films
back to back. About his experience, he offers: "I went
into Navy SEAL training immediately after shooting
2 Guns, and I'd been doing a lot of research into and reading about that world before this film. I've been
lucky enough to have played military guys before, and
I've had quite a bit of military training for other roles."
For her part, Patton shares that working for the DEA
is not remotely what she expected it to be. It turns out
her role as Bobby's controller, Agent Deb Rees, would
be one involving more intense questioning than action.
The performer explains a few steps in her preparation:
"I like to start in a place of truth because it's so difficult
to step in someone's shoes just on imagination. From
there, you also want to make it entertaining and put
your instincts into the character. Richard introduced
me to an incredible woman who allowed me to have
intense discussions with her about her job. She worked
for many years in the DEA and brought down many
narcotics syndicates during her time as an agent. I was
able to learn not just about the work, but about her
personal life as well."
As Patton surmised, a female undercover operative
gets nowhere with her contacts by simply cracking their
heads, although she has to be prepared for that distinct
possibility. The actress reflects: "A woman's experience
as a DEA agent is very different from a man's. It takes
a great deal of fearlessness to go into a dark room and
handle a drug deal. What I found fascinating about my
contact is that she has this very sweet voice. In order
for her to become friends with her marks and lead them
to believe that she's one of them, she couldn't be too
brusque or off-putting. This agent used her femininity
to help infiltrate these places, and yet she was fully
confident in her strength, intelligence and wit."
Learning how to think and act like a double agent
wasn't the only challenge on set for the performers.
Figuring out what they would do to get out of being
tortured was another matter entirely. All veterans of
action films, our players would be required to rob banks,
get thrown out of moving trucks and dodge bullets
raining down upon them. Artfully choreographed by
stunt coordinator DARRIN PRESCOTT and 2nd unit
stunt coordinator WADE ALLEN, these sequences
paled in comparison, however, when it came time to
maneuver around some very angry livestock.
As Papi Greco runs a steer ranch in Sonora, Mexico,
multiple scenes in 2 Guns -- from our introduction to the
drug kingpin to the film's explosive finale -- occur there.
Wahlberg walks us through what it was like to be strung
up by his feet and pummeled by the land baron with
a baseball bat. He laughs: "I didn't like being upside
down. Edward loved it because there are different times
in the movie where he has the upper hand, or we have the
upper hand; we were always pushing it a little too far.
He was milking it for everything it was worth. Denzel
didn't want to hang upside down too long either. So we
shot the essentials and got out of there. Working with
cattle is a completely different ball game."
Although bull handlers MARSHALL DeSOUGE
and REGINALD PURRIS kept the cast and crew out of
harm's way, Washington would have preferred the two
trainers were the ones with feet over heads during an
interrogation. He dryly adds: "My back is better now,
much better, but I had fun doing that scene. Mark and I
were both game and went for it. Still, with a bull snorting
at you, that's enough to tell your secrets." Washington
notes that they had a bit of unexpected competition on
screen: "That bull tried to steal the scene. He actually
kicked his feet and started snorting at us, but thank
goodness that the fence was between us. That was one
big, mean animal."
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