The Gambler, an existential drama/thriller starring Mark Wahlberg, Michael K Williams, John Goodman, Brie Larson and Jessica Lange, Directed by Rupert Wyatt and written by William Monahan is out on December 25th nationwide.
I attended the press conference for the film, the full audio of which can be found in the video below for your listening pleasure.
Here are some highlights though:
The Director, Rupert Wyatt, when asked the difference between this film and the 1974 original:
"Just to start off, the fundamental difference when I read the script - I knew the original and knew of the original - but I saw that it was less a study of addiction and more of what it means to be a gambler in this world today, especially in western society. That kind of win lose mentality, sink or swim. This is a guy who has everything, has all of these social trappings but is in a gilded cage and wants to escape.”
“It was an anti-materialistic movie. That’s what I found fascinating about it. It’s about an over dog wanting to become an underdog and I think that’s quite a rare gem these days”
The writer William Monahan on writing the remake:
“The '74 film that came out when I was 13, was about gambling addiction and I happen to come from a mindset where I think everything is voluntary. Like, right now, I really want a Marlboro and if I have one, I’ve made a choice to do it and if I have another one after that, I’ve made the choice to do it. So I don’t believe in addiction per se. There’s obviously substance dependencies of various kinds but those are also voluntary too. If you go off heroin, as I understand it, you feel just not top notch for about a week, you know… (laughs a little) so… I don’t believe in addiction and because I don’t believe in addiction, half of what there was to begin with, just fell away and I was able to run with it just as everyone else was able to run with it”
Brie Larsen on her character Amy: “I don’t think she does (have an agenda) I think that’s why I enjoyed playing her so much”
Mark Wahlberg: “I think that’s why Jim loved her so much”
Brie Larsen: “I think that, in my mind, when I read the script, I believed that these sort of seven days of soul initiation - when he lets go of things over the course of 7 days - that Amy has gone through those 7 days before the movie began and so she represents to him, this place to get to.”
Mark Wahlberg: “He recognises that that’s exactly what he’s looking for”
Michael K Williams: “I think Jim (Mark Wahlberg's character) is a mirror to Neville in some aspects, you know. Jim’s a man who from the outside looking in appears to have everything - status, money, education, good looks - and people look at Neville and think they imagine chicks, power, money, respect and um you know he sees they are both searching for something else out of life and the trappings of their world start to suffocate them and I think that’s what he finds attractive in Jim”
Rupert Wyatt, the Director: “There’s a specific line of dialogue at the beginning of the movie spoken by his grandfather ‘I need to know what you’d be worth if I leave you nothing’. That’s the challenge, that’s the thing that sets Jim off on this quest. He’s a guy who has everything and wants to get back to zero and without giving too much away, that’s his goal. So it is a redemption story, it’s quite an aspirational story in a funny sort of way. It’s a guy who is looking for a way out”
Mark Wahlberg on actor Michael K Williams: “I’ve known Michael for a very long time before I ever acted in a film. Michael and I knew each other through mutual friends. So it was great to finally get an opportunity to work with him, even though we worked together on Boardwalk (Empire), I’d never acted with him. He’s menacing in an effortless way but always very kind and gracious when we were on set “
The Director, Rupert Wyatt, on his design of the film: “I set this journey with the idea we started as far west in America as we possibly can, on the Pacific Coast Highway. Up high in this sort of neo-classical building with these statues that look like angels, all white marble and it had this very heavenly feel. So that’s where he starts, he starts in paradise. Then, through the course of the journey, he travels across Los Angeles and goes further and further east and goes more underground and by the end he’s entering the dragon, as Ulysses, or Dante, or whatever with this idea that in order to get out you have to go to hell first. So that was very clearly an agenda on my part.”
Mark Wahlberg on his acting career: Everyday I just wake up and pinch myself and feel so lucky to have found my true calling - what really drives me and pushes me, challenges me and allows me to learn, see the world - and this particular part (The Gambler) is another opportunity for me to do something different. You know, having missed out on my college experience, going back to various Universities, sitting with literary professors, going to lectures and wandering around UCLA…
...but you know I just remembered the first time being on set with Penny Marshall - even being in the room with Penny Marshall and Danny DeVito -Everyone else I’d met in the film world was just very different from me and I met them and they spoke the same language and they seemed to be from the same place that I was from.
...I remember being on set and it just reminded me ‘oh my god, all I ever did was watch movies with my Dad’ I had seen this movie when I was a kid, the first film I saw in the theatre was Hard Times with Charles Bronson. I knew who John Garfield was and Robert Ryan before I knew who Robert Redford was or certainly Tom Cruise, you know the guys who were THE stars of when I actually started making movies. I didn’t really know who any those guys were and so, really it was just a miracle, I found…”
Hit play below and listen to the whole event.
It was a fairly interesting half hour although derailed a little by a lot of follow up questions concerning William Monahan's slightly controversial statement about 'not believing in addiction' near the beginning. There was also a sense that everyone, both the audience and the filmmakers weren't entirely coming from the same place in terms of the film's message.
The highlights for me were the comments listed above and the excitement of attending my first press conference.
The Gambler opens nationwide on Christmas Day Dec 25th.
Leave your thoughts and feedback below!!