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WAHLBERG, MARK: PLANET OF THE APES

HEíS WILD ABOUT HAIRY ARI
Mark Wahlberg admits he fantasized about lovemaking with a hairy Helena Bonham Carter as Ari the ape, on the set of Planet of the Apes. Jenny Cooney Carrillo reports.

This is a huge film that comes with great expectations. Can you talk about the meaning of this film?
Well, I really need to see this film again. This was the first time I have ever watched a film that I was a part of and felt so disconnected from it while watching it. Usually by the first two minutes into a film I am picking it apart, criticizing what I should have done, or what I would do differently if I could go back. But with this film I was literally just sucked in. Thereís so much to offer and so much going beneath the surface, I really need to see it again. I would love to watch it again with Tim sitting next to me and a remote control in my hands so that I could pause or rewind certain things. But the first time I saw it, I was in awe.

On screen you and Helena Bonham Carter, who plays an ape, have a certain chemistry. How did you feel about that relationship?
Well, Iíve always said, she has a lot of the qualities I look for in a woman, aside from the facial hair (laughing). You know, I was willing to go anywhere with the part. I told Tim, when he explained the relationship to me, this was going to be difficult for me to believe, let alone convince an audience. But with Helena Bonham Carter being cast in the role, and what she brought to the part, and Rick Bakerís make up, she kind of looks like Janet Jackson. I donít want Janet to get upset; I like Janet Jackson. But she was just phenomenal in the part. I mean, I was very attracted to her. So were a lot of other guys on the set, actually. I remember Kris Kristofferson came up to me one day and tapped me on the shoulder and said ďDonít think Iím crazy, but would you do it with her?Ē And I said ďOf course I would!Ē He started laughing because he thought he was the only one who was fantasizing about her. In this film we donít go far, but the potential is there, you know, to take it farther in the next film.

What is your commitment to the role? Are you going to return in a sequel? And what was it like to meet Charleton Heston, the originator of the role?
I am not under contract for any more movies, but I am certainly willing to do it if Tim is doing it. I would love to work with Tim again either on a sequel to this or something else. As for Mr. Heston, I did meet him the day he was shooting. It was one of my few days off but I went down to the set to witness the truly historic moment. I heard the voice before I saw him, and he was in full make-up. He came up and we started to talk, I introduced myself, and he paid me some really nice compliments that I didnít believe, but I took them anyway. And, um, he ripped off half his nose appliance because he had been in full make-up all day which is really uncomfortable, from what Iíve heard. But we just spoke for a short while, and it was really nice for me. Iíll be interested to hear what he thinks.

This film is a re-make of a classic, as is your next project, The Truth About Charlie which originally starred Cary Grant. How do you feel about taking over these roles that were originated by such legendary actors?
Well, if it had nor been Tim Burton directing this and Jonathan Demming doing The Truth About Charlie, I would never have thought about doing it. I am very much driven by filmmakers and guys that Iíve admired for a long time. I am trying to learn as much as I can, so I find working with guys of their caliber, I will do pretty much anything. I had asked them if they were really sure, because I had seen both films after taking on the roles and before we started production, and I just wanted to make sure they really wanted me for these roles, since Charleton Heston and Cary Grant both have very different styles of acting from me. In both cases I never really saw myself as totally right, but Tim and Jonathan certainly did, and I think they know a few things, I certainly trust their judgments, and I knew with each of them I would have a wonderful experience, and at the same time, learn a lot.

How do you choose your roles, then? What are your criteria?
It really depends on the filmmaker. I have always talked about, you know, really wanting something completely different from the last or anything Iíve done up until that point. But I would re-visit certain things to work with the right filmmaker. I would play small parts. I would put the make-up on to work with Tim Burton, You know, itís the filmmaker first and the material second, part third and supporting cast fourth. And you know people say you canít make a great movie without a great script. I think you can make a great movie with a great director, and I would be willing to sacrifice my own wants and desires in order to work with a major filmmaker.

If you were to play one of the apes, would you have the patience to go through the make-up every day?
That was something I was concerned about. When I met Tim we didnít talk about a specific role. I just expressed my interest in and willingness to do whatever he wanted me to do. If that would have been playing an ape I would have done it. If that meant wearing a loincloth I would have done it. Tim fortunately didnít want to see me in a loincloth.

Actually you were pretty adamant about not wanting to wear the loincloth, correct?
You know, I am not comfortable wearing the loincloth. Barefoot with a loincloth, I mean, you know people say they want to see me in that, and Iím like I would love to see Estellaís chest all the time too, but itís not fair. Why canít people understand that I just prefer to be clothed? I mean, youíre running around being tackled by gorillas, itís not going to be very comfortable. And it was not about getting away from the whole underwear thing, as people have said, itís just not very comfortable. I prefer to be clothed like most people.

So how has your fame affected you?
I would rather do without it but I can deal with it. I mean, I think itís a little easier for me than most people. Everybody already knows my business and Iíve been through it, Iím just doing my own thing. So itís okay. I just have a hard time reading about my personal life in the newspapers. But itís part of the gig. There are advantages and disadvantages. You get free clothes, you get into a club for free, but with me once I get in there is usually someone who wants to start a fight. Everyone knows who I am but I donít know anybody, or what anybody it capable of. You kind of feel like youíre in a little box and everyoneís peeking and poking at you.

What do you feel about monkeys, after working on this film? Do you believe they have a soul?
Well, I think that yes, they do. I think they are a couple of genes off from being able to talk and be very much like us. I spent a lot of time with a couple of chimps and theyíre really, really strange. Itís scary how close they are to being human and how smart they are an how much they really know. I had an opportunity to be alone with them as well as with the trainers. And when theyíre alone theyíre different. I mean, theyíre smart. They know what they want and how to get it. And itís weird. Then, in terms of the rest of it, I am religious and have to listen to the Bible, so you know, you never really knowÖI know that probably sounds kind of cold, but thatís just how I feel about it.

In real life you recently broke up with your girlfriend. What did you learn from that and how does it feel to be back in he dating game?
Well, you know, the places I am going to right now because of work, thereís probably a good chance I am not going to find, you know, the marrying type. Itís unfortunate that because of work and stuff I donít have the luxury of going to places, aside from church, where you find the kind of woman Iím looking for. The last relationship was not the right one for me, so now, maybe when I take some time off, Iíll find Mrs. Right. What will make her the one is a lot of things, but mostly her intelligence, her convictions, her willingness to stand up for what she believes in. Sheís pretty solid.

Published August 9, 2001

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