ATLANTA -- Sharing the love seat in a hotel room at the St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta, actor Mark Wahlberg and director Allen Hughes bicker back and forth about cellphones.
"I just talked with my wife and daughter on FaceTime," Wahlberg said with a smile. He had just retired his BlackBerry and bought a new iPhone.
"Can you believe he still had a BlackBerry?" Hughes said.
Hughes continued to tease Wahlberg like an old friend. He insisted that he needed the new iPhone so he could FaceTalk with the Boston actor -- how romantic.
But the two weren't just sitting around in a hotel for kicks and giggles. Wahlberg and Hughes were in Atlanta to promote their new movie, "Broken City."
The film is about a disgraced cop turned private detective Billy Taggart (played by Wahlberg) who is hired by NYC's mayor (Russell Crowe) to tail his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), he uncovers a city-wide conspiracy of corruption, sex and murder. Billy tries to be a hero, but his past comes back to haunt him.
When Hughes first picked up the script, he knew he wanted Wahlberg for the lead role of Billy.
"I think Mark has an unpredictability about him, whether he is sweet, edgy or funny, but mostly that there is this life he has that a lot of movie stars, quite frankly, just don't have it," Hughes said. "He has a life experience to go with it."
Wahlberg is known for having a bumpy, hectic past when he was younger and was able to relate to Billy.
"I was attracted to the part because of the redemption aspect of the story," he said. "I loved that he's not a very apologetic character, but I don't think he should be living in the world and dealing with the kind of people that he's dealing with. He just reminded me of one of those great '70s character driven movies that they don't make any more -- the ones I grew up watching with my dad. Trying to fight do to the right thing against all odds."
The cast and crew filmed the movie in 40 days, instead of the usual 80 days. With the long hours and lack of sleep, Hughes relied on Wahlberg to keep his sanity.
"It was a brutal production," he said. "I would have not been able to do this without Mark. I can get negative sometimes -- he never does, by the way. He just puts his hands in his pockets and just smiles."
Wahlberg added with a laugh, "I won't get negative in my way of thinking. If I have to get violent, I'll get violent. But not negative; that's just a slippery slope."
During post production, Wahlberg was only available to work via phone due to other jobs. He kept Hughes' head on when he thought things had hit the fan.
"I would call Mark, 'Mark, we don't have this and the world's going to end,'" Hughes said with animation. "And there he was, 'Don't worry about it.'"
But they weren't the only ones pushing through the tight schedule. Both men raved about their co-worker Crowe, who put a lot of time and research into his fictional character, Mayor Nick Hostetler.
"(Russell) had a strong take on who he thought the mayor was, what he looked like, how he spoke ...," Wahlberg said.
"He went into his history. He knew what borough he came from, what college he went to ... it was very difficult for him to pull it off," Hughes said about the Australian. "I hope people appreciate what Russell did here because it's very nuanced and subtle, not obvious."
After all of the hard work, the two men were glad they were working with each other instead of answering to other bosses.
"Every day was challenging, but every day was blessing, too, because we got the make this movie the we wanted to," Wahlberg said. "It was Allen and I, doing our thing and no one was interfering or interrupting or trying to control us in any way, shape or form."
"Broken City" opens today.