Mark Wahlberg Reflects on Filming ‘The Departed’: “I Was a Little Pissed About a Couple Things”

Mark Wahlberg has admitted he wasn’t entirely happy while filming Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film The Departed.

Wahlberg played Sergeant Dignam, who worked in the Special Investigation Unit of the Massachusetts State Police Department, in the Boston-set film, which also starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Vera Farmiga, among others.

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“I was a little pissed about a couple things but look, it all worked out in the end, I think,” Wahlberg said on the March 14 episode of Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast.

“Originally I was supposed to play another part. Originally, I was supposed to get paid,” he said, without elaborating. “And then even when we kind of agreed that I would play Dignam and I saw the advantages of playing that part and how I would approach the situation with everybody else playing opposite me, I then had another movie after.”

He said he had just finished filming Four Brothers and was about to start shooting Invincible.

“I was trying to grow my hair out, which is why I had that weird hair. You know, everybody’s like, ‘What was that wig about?’ I was like, ‘It was not a wig, I was just trying to grow my hair for the next film.'”

Wahlberg has been open about his clashes with Scorsese before and now says he understands his director’s point of view.

“I completely understand where Marty was coming from. He had to deal with Jack, he had to deal with Matt and Leo and Alec and everything in the studio and everybody else who was in the cast and then I was supposed to be in and out in five weeks,” he said. “And so I went off to go and shoot Invincible, got my hair extensions, came back and then they were like, ‘Oh you gotta take out the extensions. I was like, [this] shit took eight hours. I’m not gonna take this out.’ We had a couple of issues.”

Wahlberg ended up earning his first and only (so far) Oscar nom for the role (he lost to Little Miss Sunshine’s Alan Arkin, though the film won four Oscars, including best picture and best director). At the time, he came to realize he could “have some fun” with the character. Wahlberg — who grew up in Boston — previously said he had conversations with Scorsese about improvising.

“Ultimately, I think when I read that particular role, I was like, ‘OK, this is, this is a good role,'” he said. “This is an opportunity for me to really kind of go off and have some fun for me. Originally, I was just thinking, ‘OK, we gotta make this as realistic and credible as possible. It’s Boston, it’s gangster shit. You don’t see too many of that, those movies.’ And I was thinking kind of broad big picture, not necessarily my own individual goals or even the opportunity for me as an actor. And then when I read the part again, I was like, ‘OK, there’s something here.'”

Asked if Oscar nominations and other accolades matter, Wahlberg says it’s nice when it happens, but not something he’s focused on.

“Look, you want the movie to be recognized, you want to be recognized — it helps the ultimate success of the film,” he said. “I think it enhances the box office quite a bit, especially if you have a movie coming out at that time of year, but it’s not as high on the priority list as it used to be, let’s just say that.”

So, would he rather his “movie make a billion dollars or win an Academy Award?” as Horowitz put it.

“If I have a nice back end, I would rather [have the money],” Wahlberg said. “But that being said, look, I mean, you know, I’m a competitive guy. I work really hard and I try to make the best movies possible. I always want to be the best. I approach it as very much as an athlete, as a fighter, all those things. So I only wanna win.”

Horowitz also asked Wahlberg to set the record straight about turning down Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 hit heist comedy Ocean’s Eleven. Wahlberg said he’d already committed to starring in Planet of the Apes for Tim Burton and in The Truth About Charlie for Jonathan Demme and therefore was unable to do Ocean’s.

“I was asked to do the movie and what happened was we asked if they would wait for me, but I had already committed to working with Tim Burton and Jonathan Demme,” he explained. “And for me, it was even though those movies did not turn out to be good, those experiences were great. And you know what, at that point, I was still really trying to grow as an actor.”

He said some parts of the two films did not excite him at the time, but he still had a great experience working on both.

“I was thrilled about the opportunity to work with Tim, [but I] wasn’t thrilled about the idea of doing that remake, but it was worth going to take that risk to work with Tim Burton,” he said of 2001’s Apes. “Same thing with Jonathan Demme when I read the script, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, is this Philadelphia? Is this Silence of the Lambs?’ No, it was a kind of loose remake of Charade. So, no, I was not, like, thrilled when I was in the beret and the scarf, the baguette, but had one of the great times in my career, my life, off set. I had a great time working on that movie. I really learned a lot, worked with some hugely talented people.”

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