"Becoming the Gambler"
Wahlberg began preparing for The Gambler long before principal photography
commenced in January of 2014. "Intellectually, it was extremely challenging,
being a high school dropout and playing a professor in college," Wahlberg says.
"It was a bit of a stretch, but something that I was excited about. I'm never
one who shies away from a challenge. I jump at the opportunity to do something
different and unexpected, but I'm going to make sure that I'm prepared."
In order to familiarize himself with the character, Wahlberg met with the head
of the English department at the University of Michigan, sat in on lectures at
universities in Southern California, and read Monahan's screenplay twice a day.
Wahlberg's dedication paid off when he surprised a group of unsuspecting
background actors when he filmed his first scene as a professor. "Without
prompting, he delivered an eight minute monologue uninterrupted in one single
take to a student body of about three hundred. I watched them as much as I
watched him. I could just see in their faces this kind of look of complete awe,"
In addition to extensive character research, Wahlberg chose to lose weight to
properly embody Jim. "I was going to try to get as heavy as possible, but the
studio didn't like that idea all that much," Wahlberg jokes. "I changed my diet
completely. Jim is the kind of guy who's not very concerned with his appearance.
He is not the kind of guy who would be exercising or eating right, so it made
sense for the role."
Wyatt agrees that an underfed pallor made sense for the character. Says Wyatt,
"We made the decision early on that Mark should lose the muscular frame that he
has had in so many roles. We wanted to create a wolf like physicality about him.
He's still very much the handsome movie star that he's always been, but he has
this amazing, haunted look."
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