It makes perfect sense when watching the 2 Guns trailer that director Baltasar Kormakur was influenced by some of those gritty 1970s movies where two alpha males went at each other to the delight of the audience. When we spoke to Kormakur for an exclusive interview, he stated just that… but his 2 Guns is much more than an ode to a film of another time.
He told us about how putting Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg together and challenging each to play against type was the true joy of filming the undercover cops who don’t know each is undercover movie.
Kormakur previously directed Wahlberg in Contraband, and lets us in on what is the secret to the Boston bred actor’s ever expanding success. The Icelandic director also chimes in about having Washington play someone totally different, the power of playing Bill Paxton for laughs and the explosive (and surprising) chemistry between his leads that truly makes 2 Guns go at full speed.
Movie Fanatic: What about the 2 Guns story most appealed to you to invest several years of your life?
Baltasar Kormakur: I love the tone, twists and turns that you don’t see coming. To have the opportunity to make a film that largely relies on the chemistry of the two leads is a joy. It’s fun to play those actors as those characters off of one another. The whole world that it happens in, I’ve been down at the (U.S.-Mexico) border. That too was very appealing. Also, I wanted to approach it in a different way. I think it had a little '70s vibe, which I liked.
Movie Fanatic: The chemistry between Denzel and Mark is explosive. It reminds me of some older movies…
Baltasar Kormakur: I’m a big fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and those kinds of movies with two alpha males. They are playing off each other. Over the years, that kind of thing has gone more comedic. I wanted to go more real, with two tough guys coming at each other.
Movie Fanatic: Denzel with gold teeth… come on!
Baltasar Kormakur: It doesn’t get any better than that!
Movie Fanatic: When did you fully get the sense that Denzel and Mark were going to be so good together?
Baltasar Kormakur: There was a bit of a process. There was a likeness between them already, just personally. They started working at it and soon enough I realized, “This is actually amazing.” When we got it, it was gold. Keeping that going, for me, was a challenge for two months. I realized soon that this is what this movie is truly about. I knew Mark and I know he loves to be challenged with the best to bring up his game. I knew he would raise it with Denzel. He would not lie down next to Denzel and give him a fair fight.
Movie Fanatic: This is your second movie with Mark Wahlberg after Contraband. If we had said 15 years ago that Mark Wahlberg would become a huge movie star, it would not have seemed real. Yet, he’s everything you want out of a movie star. What is so special about Mark?
Baltasar Kormakur: He’s street smart and there’s no (expletive) with him. His ego does not get in his way. He’s there for the project. I think that’s why he’s become such a big movie star is directors like me love working with people like that. I remember when I saw him in Boogie Nights -- there was something real and raw about him. There was something about the scene with him and his mother, it was so real. When you see that in an actor, you know he or she is the real deal.
Movie Fanatic: What was your biggest obstacle to getting 2 Guns in the can?
Baltasar Kormakur: The whole movie was a big challenge because we didn’t have a big budget and lots of days. We only had like 50 days, so every day was a challenge. But, I’d say the biggest challenge was the scene with the bull. Nothing like stringing up two big stars upside down for two days [laughs]!
Movie Fanatic: Bill Paxton is also in 2 Guns and as we can even see in the 2 Guns clip, he’s kind of slimy in this one…
Baltasar Kormakur: The idea came up for Bill Paxton to play that part and I loved the idea that it was something different. It’s the same with Denzel and comedy -- it’s something you have never seen before. That’s why this movie is refreshing. It’s very challenging, but it’s really rewarding if you pull it off. This movie does not take itself too seriously, and that’s part of playing with the image of Bill Paxton. When you see someone you know do something different, it’s always great.