If you take Denzel Washington, pair him with Mark Wahlberg, add Paula Patton, guns, millions of dollars, double-crossing and more guns you would only scratch the surface of their most recent movie, 2 Guns. In a summer full of superhero brawls, full throttle sequels, and monsters vs. robots, it would be hard for any buddy cop action film to stand out from the crowd, but with this badass duo taking lead, the mission is accomplished. Directed by Baltasar Kormákur this film is a great mix of comedy, action and drama that only Denzel, Mark and Paula could balance out. The chemistry produced between Mark and Denzel has audience members invested in the movie within its first 5 minutes.
YRB Magazine sat down with the stars of the film; Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington and Paula Patton to discuss working together, bonding, lamaze class, the removal of shirts, and why with great acting, generous humor and a wonderfully written script 2 Guns is one of the most entertaining movies of the summer.
YRB: With this being the first time you two have worked together, was there anything about the other person that surprised you?
Mark: We’ve known each other for a while, but I think what surprised me was how willing Denzel was to just try anything. Also how giving he is as an actor. He was really supportive of me. I have been a big fan of his for a long time, and he let me do my thing. It surprised me how willing he was to try things, and put himself out there.
Denzel: Coming off of Flight, I was looking to do something to have more fun. When I read the script, and heard Mark was involved I was like okay. I knew I could be safe. I knew Mark was not just funny, but he has warmth and a heart about him that I loved. I watched Ted the other night, (looking at Mark) and wondered how did you do that fight scene? That was crazy.
Mark: That was embarrassing.
Denzel: You got spanked and everything. So all of that. I wanted to be apart of that. I wasn’t ready to get spanked yet, not right out of the gate, but he really allowed me to free up, to go for it, and not worry about being too silly.
YRB: What was appealing about this particular film that attracted you both?
Denzel: For me it was the opportunity to work with Mark. Without being cliché, we’re buddies. This is a buddy movie. To get a chance to do that, and have fun was great. Put it this way, I didn’t do months of DEA research.
Mark: I was attached to the movie first, and it was always about who is the other guy. It’s about the two guys no matter what they’re doing. If you look at Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid they were running from something that you never really saw. Usually, they’ll take the comedy guy and the very straight guy, and put them together. We didn’t want to do that. This film felt like it had to have two really formidable opponents who could earn that camaraderie, and earn that trust in one another. That’s really the movie. So once I heard Denzel was interested I was like we got a movie. We got the best possible version of that movie in my eyes.
YRB: How much improvising went into the film?
Mark: I worked with Baltasar before, so he was comfortable with me doing my thing. Improvisations can always make the scene better as long as it pertains to the moment in the movie. But we played and just played and played. Denzel would look at me and say, “Did you really just say that”.
Denzel: You know, people have always told me that I’m funny, and my response is always “I’m quick, but being funny on purpose take after take is new territory”. So by improvising, something might come out that might be good. Luckily its film so they can cut it if it isn’t good.
YRB: Was there anything you two did in particular to bond?
Denzel: We went to lamaze class together.
Mark: I have always admired him. We have known each other socially a little here and there. We got a lot in common. We both have four kids. I was able to constantly ask him for advice, and pick his brain about things both personally and professionally. We’re both professionals so even if we didn’t spend time hanging out we came and did our jobs. We are both serious about our job, so it just either works or it doesn’t.
Denzel: Marks a good guy. He is a regular guy like me. So, it was easy.
YRB: Many people may not know this film is based on a novel. Were you familiar with it prior to signing on to this project?
Mark: I knew it was from a graphic novel, but I hadn’t looked at it before hand. I had a copy of it just sitting around my office, and then as we were making the movie I started flipping through it. With any source material, once something is adapted you can’t fit everything into the movie especially with a story like this, but I enjoyed it.
Denzel: Mark mentioned earlier that he was attached to the film before I was connected with it, so I didn’t really know about the graphic novel. I just read the script, laughed and gave it to the people that I trust, like my kids and my barber. I always give him the script and ask, “What do you think”, and he was like “That’s funny, you haven’t done that D”.
YRB: Which is tougher: making audiences laugh or getting them emotionally invested?
Denzel: I have less experience with comedic roles so I won’t say it was harder. That’s why I wanted to go out there with someone who knew that territory better then me. It frees you up to try. Some of the stuff Mark was doing, I was like if he can do that, then I can just go for it.
Mark: I approach everything the same. I try to make it as real as possible. If you’re going to make people laugh or make people cry it’s always the same approach for me, but if I start doing pratfalls somebody please pull the plug on me.
YRB: Paula, this was your second time working with Denzel. What was it like working with him again?
Paula: I was fairly new to acting when I first got a chance to work with Denzel in Déjà Vu, and I have to tell you it was like talking a master class. It changed everything for me. I would just watch him, and you never knew what he was going to throw at you. So, for the first time as an actor I really felt like I was in the moment. The amazing thing about Denzel is he’s like a jazz musician. That keeps you on your toes, and it changed me as an actor. Going back to work with him again was like a refresher course, because he is one of the greatest actors of our time. It was an honor.
YRB: What was it like shooting the intimate scene that took place with Denzel and what did your husband Robin (Thicke) think of it?
Paula: The day before we were going to shoot the scene I was thinking about it, and how these are people who have been together before. They are having a conversation, and they have just made love. It seemed really phony of me to have a shirt on. I just kind of sprung it on Balthazar. I came to set and I’m like, I’m not going to be wearing a top. I said to Robin it doesn’t feel natural and he said “go for it babe, absolutely”. We don’t really get hung up on those kinds of things.
YRB: How did you hold your own against the two strong characters Denzel and Mark were playing?
Paula: I didn’t really approach it in that way. Preparation is the most important thing to me so that you can throw it all away once you get into the scene. Once I feel like I know that character I can show up on set, and whatever happens happens. At least I don’t feel nervous about that part. As far as holding my own, we’ll just have to see.
YRB: If the two lead rolls were cast as women, which one would you want to play?
Paula: That’s difficult. I don’t know. They both do a really great job in this film. I think people will be so surprised at the chemistry. I felt it when I was around them. They both have such interesting parts to play that either one would be an interesting roll for me to take on. I thought that they were very equal and balanced.
2 Guns hits theaters August 2.
By Hunter Weaver-Daniel