'The Fighter' at 10: Mark Wahlberg recalls how pro boxers he faced in film 'couldn't get out of bed' the next day

Director David O. Russell has been seen and heard making life difficult for his actors on set. But to hear Mark Wahlberg tell it, it was the actor who put himself through the wringer on the boxing drama The Fighter, which turns 10 today.

Wahlberg was also a producer on the passion project in which he starred as troubled Irish-American light welterweight Mickey Ward, and had considerable clout in his reunion with the Three Kings filmmaker. So it was Wahlberg who helped make the case for shooting the movie’s major three bouts on the first three days of the film’s production.

“Everyone thought [that] was impossible,” Wahlberg told Yahoo Entertainment during a 2014 Role Recall interview (watch above, with The Fighter starting at 3:40). “But [I had] years of training and preparation, and I basically convinced everyone that the way to do it is to just film it like they film any fight on HBO. They don’t know what’s gonna happen. There’s a fight, you have 12 rounds, you have to walk in the ring, you’ve got eight or ten cameras. You don’t know what’s gonna happen, but these guys are experts.

“So we got the actual cameras, the actual director that shot [Ward’s famous trilogy of fights against rival Arturo Gatti]. HBO gave us all their equipment and everything. They came and we just shot them in sequence.”

The Fighter costarred Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, all of whom scored Oscar nominations for their roles, with Bale and Leo winning. While Wahlberg was left off the ballot, he still took sharp pride in his training regimen, which he began in 2005, a full five years before the oft-delayed production was released. That put him in as good — if not better — shape than the professional boxer-actors he faced in the ring.


“We did each fight 12 hours a day and thankfully I was in the condition I was because even the pro fighters that we had were not used to that. If you got a 12-round fight with a minute in between rounds, that’s not a long time. And you got eight weeks, 12 weeks of training camp, but you’re not doing it for 12 hours a day. And the next day they couldn’t get out of bed.”


Watch the trailer:

The Fighter is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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