Actor-producer Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg have teamed up before for dramatic true-life stories -- with “Deepwater Horizon,” about the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil well disaster; and “Lone Survivor,” about a U.S. Navy SEAL mission to kill a Taliban leader. Their latest collaboration is “Patriots Day,” about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. It looks at the survivors and the police who tried to catch the terrorists behind the attack.
On “CBS This Morning,” Wahlberg said there had been a lot of debate about whether it was too soon to dramatize their story.
“But then we felt like, because of everything that was happening all over the world, that it’s really not soon enough,” he said, “because this is a message of love and people coming together. And so we felt like, it was very important to do this, but do it right.”
He said there was added pressure because, in such a small community, “Everybody knows somebody who was directly affected by this.
“Of course, me being from Boston and knowing that I would be held accountable personally, there was a lot of pressure, certainly more pressure than I have ever felt,” he said, admitting, “I like to go home and I like to show my face!”
Berg acknowledged the pressure: “When you meet the men and women -- like Danny Meng, a Chinese immigrant who escaped from those brothers and quite possibly saved a similar explosion in New York; or the police officers and the victims and the survivors -- You meet those families, you can’t help but feel it.”
He praised Wahlberg as “one of the hardest working people I know; he always works hard. I think on this one he and all of us worked a lot harder. I felt his pressure and all of us wanted so much to get it right for the men and women of that Boston community, [for] the police officers.
The film is unapologetic in its support of law enforcement, which Berg said was their intent: “[It’s] something that we that both feel strongly about. Clearly there’s issues with law enforcement, but I think that brush has been a little too wide as of late, and we’re more than happy to push back and remind people that what we saw in Boston, or what we have seen on 9/11 here in New York, and we saw in Tampa or San Bernardino, are examples of the very best of law enforcement, and a reminder when we are in trouble, these are the men and women we call.
“I think we both feel very thankful and appreciative and we are not ashamed of that message at all.”
The filmmakers were also respectful of the wishes of survivors, such as the family of Martin Richard, a little boy fatally injured by the blast. His sister, Jane, lost a leg.
Wahlberg met with their parents, and said of the father, “He was very clear about what he was comfortable with and not comfortable with, and he didn’t want anybody, any actors depicting him [or] his children. And initially that was part of the script. And Pete and I said, ‘Absolutely, whatever you wish.’ We just took it right out of the script. We wanted to honor exactly what he was asking us.”
The film also portrays Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and the FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Richard DesLauriers, and the tensions between local law enforcement and the Justice Department, as when the FBI said not to broadcast pictures of the bombing suspects, to which the police responded, “Yes, we must show it, and must show them now.”
“When something bad happens, the cliché is, ‘Thank God it didn’t happen on my watch,’” Wahlberg said. “It did happen on their watch. These were the two guys who at the end of the day, a horrific explosion goes off and the president and the governor call and say, ‘What do you need?’ and ‘You have to solve it.’ There was a lot of pressure.
“But we were just with them at a screening in Los Angeles and they are like bothers. At the end of the day, they put aside those differences and worked together, and it was an extraordinary job they did.”
Rose asked what the filmmakers hope audiences will take with them after watching the movie.
“Just hope, optimism, you know?” Wahlberg replied. “I think we are living in a crazy time … these things may continue to happen. But, you know, if people continue to come together, love will always be, you know, the outcome.”
Or, as Berg put it, “Love beats hate.”
“Patriots Day,” distributed by CBS Films, opens in theaters in select cities Dec. 21.
To watch a trailer for “Patriots Day,” click on the video player below.