Broken City: Allen Hughes on Going at it Alone

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For the first time in his career, director Allen Hughes is helming a movie, Broken City, by himself, without twin brother Albert by his side. We met Hughes and he told Movie Fanatic that he believes this particular film was perfect because Broken City is more conducive to a single helmer.

Mark Wahlberg Allen Hughes Broken City

“This is a one woman, one man gig directing. That’s the way it’s always been and there’s exceptions whether it was the Zuckers, the Wachowskis -- there’s obvious exceptions. And the Cohen brothers who get different credits, but they really direct together,” Hughes said.

The brothers burst onto the scene 20 years ago with Menace II Society and have garnered legions of fans since with their work on The Book of Eli, Dead Presidents and From Hell.

He also said he’s found that there is still a hierarchy on the set with filmmaking siblings, based on age. “There’s always a bigger brother and a little brother and those roles have been established like, ‘Yo, do this little brother!’ Twins, everything is like communism,” he said, laughing.

The Hughes brothers' sharing of responsibility harks back to their childhood.

“From the day we were five years old, when my mother poured Kool-Aid for us, she had to make sure it was equal. And we were so nuts, ‘No! He got a drop more!’ So my mom gave us the same amount of cookies, same amount of whatever -- so we grew up where it was always even. That’s where it’s kind of cool I guess, but it gets to be challenging,” he said.

Even from the first Broken City trailer, it was clear that this Hughes brother was ready to step out on his own in the telling of the tale of a former cop (Mark Wahlberg) who is hired to do some dirty work for the Mayor of New York City (Russell Crowe).

“I felt great directing by myself,” he said. “It’s a natural thing, because when you look at like the NBA, you gotta have one coach. You can’t have the team looking over and seeing two different guys.”

Don’t get Hughes wrong, he will be reuniting with Albert soon as the two plan on making movies together for the foreseeable future. Heck, from the sounds of pitch meetings, it’s great to have your twin get your back. “Everyone in those meetings tries to tell you how the movie should be creatively,” Hughes said.

“When the Hughes brothers are together, it actually becomes a different entity. It’s yin and yang, and it’s just like we can have fifty people in one room and we’re going to lay every one of them down -- just by sheer whatever that thing is twins have.“

In our Mark Wahlberg interview, the Broken City star said he met the filmmaker two decades ago at a Menace II Society screening and said he wanted to work with him. What took so long?

“Quite frankly, Mark is an interesting dude because he’s constantly been evolving just to overcome some of the ‘bad boy’ stuff in his past. Not to mention the career in music he had and the perception of that -- the perception of the Calvin Klein thing -- so there’s all of this morphing going on with him,” Hughes admitted. “But he is so focused and so good at this business.”

Hughes shared that it wasn’t just the meeting at Menace II Society -- Wahlberg would greet him with the hugest embrace whenever he saw him many times over the last two decades. “He would come up and embrace me. It was like five times throughout the last 20 years! There’s a conversation being had, but not with words. So I was always struck by him,” Hughes said.

So when Hughes was first reading the Broken City script, one face kept dominating his mind. “Mark Wahlberg’s face kept popping off the page – 20 pages, 30 pages – I’m like, ‘What the (expletive)? I don’t understand this!’ I just wouldn’t let go of it. By the time I got to the end, I said, ‘This is perfect for Mark.’”

Russell Crowe Allen Hughes Broken City

The film plays to Wahlberg’s strengths, some of which remind Hughes of a silver screen star of yesterday. “There’s a Steve McQueen quality to him. There’s a salt to earth, real man. He’s coming into that everyman/Steve McQueen zone,” Hughes admitted.

“So I went after him -- didn’t know if I was going to get him but because of that love over the years, I was banking on that! Cut to a week later, he’s right there in the room and still had that love.”

For a filmmaker that has only made five movies since his debut with his brother two decades ago, Hughes stresses that he and his brother have to have a story speak to them. But, look for the two to work more in the future than ever before.

“My brother and I are going to work consistently like we haven’t before. The gift and curse of success at an early age is you haven’t lived life and you get spoiled. It never went to our heads because we’re twins,” Hughes said.

“I know we can do action movies, or sci-fi movies, or rom-com movies and horror. I go, ‘This is good, but I don’t want to do this (expletive).’ It’s not even a matter of I don’t want to do it, I know what I do well. I do crime and character well. I don’t know why.”

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