Uncharted has been in the works so long that it was originally Mark Wahlberg who was going to play Nathan Drake, the young(er) treasure hunter who embarks on a global quest for Magellan’s gold the movie adaptation of the popular Sony PlayStation video game.
It was way back in 2010 that Wahlberg talked about his plans to star in the film alongside Robert De Niro as his father, and Joe Pesci as his uncle, with his The Fighter director David O. Russell calling the shots. Russell eventually decided to make Silver Linings Playbook (2012) instead, and Wahlberg departed soon after.
In the movie finally hitting theaters this weekend, it’s Spider-Man star Tom Holland leading the charge as Drake, with Wahlberg now playing his surly mentor, Victor Sullivan, aka “Sully.”
By extension, it’s Holland doing most of the film’s elaborate stunts, while Wahlberg follows behind. “I’ve got a bad ankle,” Sully says at one point in the film while lagging well behind.
“It was so funny because I was attached at one point, long ago, to play Nate,” Wahlberg, 50, told us during a recent interview where he was joined by Holland, 25. “I certainly embraced the idea of playing Sully and I loved the notion of being in a helicopter, looking out the window while [Tom’s] doing all this stuff, just barking orders.”
The “bad ankle” excuse, it turns out, was just one of many Wahlberg devised on-set so that he wouldn’t have to keep stride with his half-as-old costar.
“Every day we'd improvise some sort of new injury that I was dealing with in order to avoid pursuing something or somebody,” Wahlberg laughed. “It was a bit of a running gag.”
Holland, meanwhile, who has spent countless days on wires and in front of green screens making three Spider-Man movies and three other Avengers entries over the past seven years, says Uncharted presented him his most difficult stunt yet.
The film opens in a flash-forward with Drake clinging to cargo crates, then climbing up them while avoiding bullet sprays and fighting henchmen — and while dangling from a moving plane.
“It took months to film that,” Holland says. “We had these things called cougar arms, which are like the robotic arms you see used to make cars… and then they would attach these big boxes to the robot in a row and then they shot it vertically. So most of the sequence was shot that way so we could simulate the notion that we were flying through the air. And basically all I had to do was hang onto these boxes and make my way up. And then we designed fight sequences with various different stunt guys throughout the route. The hardest part of it was that we were shooting small pieces at a time because the way the wire work was designed with the moving machinery was obviously very dangerous. So we had to take it really slowly."
He adds, "It's easily the hardest action sequence I've ever done, but I think it's equally as rewarding. I haven't seen an action sequence like this in a movie for a very long time.”
See our full interview with Holland, Wahlberg and costars Tati Gabrielle and Sophia Ali above.
Uncharted opens Friday.
— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jimmie Rhee
Watch the trailer: