Actor Jeffrey Wright says he sees in his "Broken City" co-star Mark Wahlberg elements of beloved Hollywood screen icon Humphrey Bogart.
Directed by Allen Hughes, the film casts Wahlberg as Billy Taggart, a New York City police detective who loses his badge after killing a man acquitted of murder and rape.
Wright plays the police commissioner who wants him fired and Russell Crowe plays the mayor who hires him as a private detective several years later because he suspects his wife, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, is cheating on him in the midst of his re-election campaign. However, a simple infidelity investigation soon spirals into a complicated murder mystery tied to a lucrative real-estate deal.
Asked if he consulted any New York City cops in his preparation for his role and whether the officers suggested the impact politics had on how they get their jobs done on a daily basis, Wright told UPI at a recent Manhattan press conference: "I don't think the movie is so much an expose. At least when I read it, I didn't read it that way. I read it more as a genre film, set within a contemporary landscape. ...
"I read it as a contemporary Humphrey Bogart story," he explained. "New York City here could be Chicago, could be Los Angeles, could be Metropolis, as I read it. And it brings into play larger ideas about corruption that is not specific to New York. It's something else about the confluence of politics and capitalism, that's not just an issue here. So, I read Humphrey Bogart. And then getting to know Mark a little better as we worked on this, I realized this guy has the elements of kind of a contemporary Bogart. He's got kind of that similar authenticity and the accessibility to audiences and the intensity and all that stuff and I thought, 'Oh, this is very interesting.' So, I thought I'd try and do a little bit of my own Claude Rains."
Rains was Bogart's co-star in the classic films "Casablanca" and "Passage to Marseille."
"I've played New York City police officers on a number of occasions, so I have had time to spend with a lot of cops both in New York and Boston, but the script was so well-written and the characters were so juicy, it was like the writer really did most of the work," Wahlberg, who was sitting beside Wright at the press conference, told UPI. "And being a producer on the film, as well, I was spending a lot more time with Allen and [casting director] Sheila Jaffe casting and getting everything else prepared. ... You want to be particular about details. ...
"Allen and I were talking about it a lot that we were making... it was kind of a gangster movie with these characters -- whether it be the politics or police department as the backdrop," Wahlberg said.
Co-starring Barry Pepper and Kyle Chandler, "Broken City" is in theaters now.
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