'2 Guns' Interview: Denzel Washington & Mark Wahlberg on Being Buddy Cops

2 Guns Interview with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg

[Warning: Spoilers Ahead for '2 Guns']


2 Guns is, in many ways, a throwback film. It's a throwback to the films of Sam Peckinpah, it's a throwback to the '80s buddy cop comedy, it has some shades of film noir, and so on. It's also an adaptation of a little known comic book of the same name by Steven Grant.

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play Bobby Trench and Marcus Stigman - two undercover agents (DEA and NCIS, respectively) completely unaware of each other's undercover status - who get embroiled in a war between a drug kingpin (Edward James Olmos), an amoral CIA agent (Bill Paxton), a corrupt navy officer (James Marsden), and all their minions. Then there's Paula Patton's character, also a DEA agent and the (ex?) love interest to Denzel's character, who's sort of playing all the sides of this war against one another.Recently, Screen Rant attended a press conference and heard from director Baltasar Kormákur (Contraband), writer Blake Masters (Law and Order: LA), and the cast of 2 Guns - including Washington, Wahlberg, Paxton, and Patton - about the film's characters, its many cinematic influences, and the politics of making a film about the drug war.

Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington talked about working with each other for the first time:

Mark: "Well, we've known each other for a while. I think what surprised me was how willing Denzel was to just try anything. Because we wanted to add some humor [to '2 Guns'] and kind of shake it up a bit and combine comedic elements with the dramatic aspect of the movie."

Denzel: "Especially coming off of 'Flight,' I was looking to do something [...] more fun. So when I read the script and [...] I heard that Mark was involved, I was like, 'Oh, okay, I could be safe.' Because I knew Mark was not just funny, but he has a warmth and a heart about him that I've loved and ... I watched 'Ted' the other night. [Laughter.] That's a sick movie. How'd you do that fight scene? That was crazy!"

Mark: "That was embarrassing."

Denzel: "But you were willing! You got spanked and everything. So all of that - I was like, 'Okay, I want to be a part of [this sort of thing].' I wasn't ready to be spanked yet - not right out of the gate. But he really helped free me up, you know, to go for it, [to not] worry about being silly or being too - whatever."

There's a scene about three-fourths of the way through the film where Denzel and Mark captured by Edward James Olmos' drug lord character and are hung upside down in a pit with a bull. As they're being interrogated by Olmos, the bull continually charges at their heads and they have to pull themselves up to avoid being gored.

Mark and Denzel talked about that scene and the difficulties of shooting it upside down:

Mark: "Well, I thought it was no big deal being hung upside down. [Then] all the blood's rushing to your head [and] it's like, it was not fun. [Denzel] actually wanted to go up at the last second and I was just like, 'Oh, let's just go up now.' And then of course, I started complaining quite a few minutes before he started complaining. It's not a fun position to be in. But I think it's a really cool scene, it's really different, you haven't seen it before.

Denzel: "The bull enjoyed the scene."

Mark: "[Denzel] kept saying, 'The bull doesn't give a ****. He doesn't know we're making the movie.' "

Wahlberg and Denzel in 2 Guns

What appealed to Denzel and Mark about working on 2 Guns?

Denzel: "For me, we could have been mailmen, we could have been - whatever it was, it was the opportunity to work with Mark. Without being cliche, we're buddies. It's a buddy movie. So it was a chance to do that and have fun. I mean, I didn't do months of DEA research, let's just put it that way."

Mark: "I did."


Denzel: "I watched 'DEA Detroit,' a [reality TV] series. That was my in-depth research."

Mark: "I was attached to the movie first, and it was always about who is the other guy. It's about the two guys. [Like Denzel said], no matter what they're doing. You look at 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,' they're running from something that you never really saw. But with these guys, it's like ... usually they'll take the comedy guy, the really [...] out there comedy guy and then the very straight guy and put them together. We didn't want to do that. I felt like you had to have two really formidable opponents and to earn that camaraderie, to earn that trust in one another. And that was really the movie."

The movie does benefit quite a bit from that camaraderie and back and forth between Mark and Denzel. And even though Mark said he didn't want a "comedy guy" and a "straight guy" set-up, it's pretty apparent that Mark is the comedy guy in the movie and Denzel is the straight guy. While Denzel isn't humorless, his humor in the film tends to be dry, and Mark is basically his regular wacky self. Regardless, it works.

Wahlberg and Washington and a Whole Lot of Cash in 2 Guns

Did they improv any of their scenes?

Denzel: "We went for it."

Mark: "Yeah, there was a lot [of improv]."

Denzel: "Kicking the hat, stuffing the gun in the guy's crotch."

Mark: "Yeah, we just - you know, I'd worked with Baltasar before, so he was coming to the movie with me, kind of doing my thing. Improvisation can always make scenes better as long as it pertains to the moment in the movie. [A]s long as it kind of makes sense with the story and the scene ... we played. And just played and played. [Sometimes Denzel would] just look at me and say, 'Did you really just say that?' "

Denzel: That's why I said, for me, it was new territory. So by improvising, something might come out that might be good. And it's film, so they can cut it if it ain't.' [Laughter.]"


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