When Mark Wahlberg signed up to star in Patriots Day, a film depicting the heroism of the first responders to the Boston Marathon bombing, he wasn’t sure how his hometown would react.
“When we first mentioned that I was going to be involved with the movie, there was a bit of negative stuff in the local media, and so I didn’t know if that carried over to the community and everybody felt that way,” he told Entertainment Weekly Radio’s Jessica Shaw during a SiriusXM Town Hall with director Peter Berg.
Once in Beantown, the father of four wavered on whether to take his family to a Celtics fame as planned, but his wife convinced him to attend.
“We’re sitting there courtside and I think one of the players recognized me and he made a shot and pointed at me and they put me on the jumbo-tron and the whole TD Garden started chanting ‘Boston Strong,'” “They came back, they won the game, we started to leave a little bit early and the entire crowd came out and surrounded our car and was moving the car, shaking the car, chanting ‘Boston Strong.'”
“My kids were terrified,” he said as the audience laughed. “They didn’t know what was going on, and I said, ‘No, it’s okay,’ and I got out of the car and people were just chanting and screaming, and the level of support was overwhelming.”
“Everywhere we went people were just so excited but constantly reminding us to get it right, show them who we were and make them proud,” he added.
Patriots Day follows Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis in the aftermath of the 2015 terrorism attack. When Wahlberg, who was supposed to fly to New York on Sept. 11, 2001, returned to Boston the day after the marathon bombing, it was an all too familiar tragedy.
“I had never seen the city like that,” he said. “It was pretty much deserted, and it was a very eerie feeling in the air, and very reminiscent of 9/11.”
To be sensitive to the city, Berg said he recreated Patriots Day’s bombing scene offsite in an abandoned Navy yard, bussing in about 1,000 extras from Boston.
“It was pretty intense filming. And we knew that most of those extras were directly involved,” he said. “A lot of them told us they were there, told us that they knew people who were hrut, some of them had been hurt but they wanted to come out and see what we were doing.”
Between shots, the crew played Prince songs through speakers to honor the music icon’s passing — and the mood instantly shifted.
“Everybody started dancing and holding hands and singing along, and it ended up being eight days of real celebration in a way, which further reminded me kind of our theme of love and of community, and I’m thinking here are these people who were attacked savagely by these cowardly people, who three years later were out there recreating that attack, holding hands and singing, smiling, dancing,” Berg said. “It was a reminder of why we were making the film, and what I thought was going to be really heavy and painful ended up being really joyful.”
The Patriots Day Town Hall premieres Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on SiriusXM Entertainment Weekly Radio (Ch. 105).
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