Donnie Wahlberg and Jason Gedrick are currently starring in the A&E original movie Kings of South Beach which is based on a true story of a Miami nightclub promoter who made South Beach a nightlife haven. His friend is an undercover cop with the assignment to bring him down. They recently sat down to discuss the project and their careers. The two men have worked together in the past on the TV series Boomtown. Last year Wahlberg starred in the short-lived series Runaway.
Donnie, can you talk about what it's like to play a real person instead of a fictional character?
Donnie Wahlberg: Well, it creates a great advantage sometimes, and it can also create a disadvantage sometimes. And what I mean is in Band of Brothers I had the same opportunity. I got to know the man that I was playing very well, and it puts a real burden on you in terms of your responsibility to that person. If you're playing a fictional character, you can create a character, you can sort of take certain liberties. And when you're playing a real person who's actually standing there watching you, you know, it's -- you do feel a weight. You know, you feel an obligation to not only be -- to give the best performance that you can, but to make sure that you represent this person.
And you not only leave the set every day or walk away from a scene wanting to feel like good inside that, hey, I did a good job, but then you've got to walk over and look at the man. To satisfy both of those things is really a great feeling, though. To me it is harder to play a real person, but when you do it and you feel good about it and the person feels good about it, I think that's doubly rewarding. So the challenge is greater, the risk is greater, but the reward is greater as well.
How was it to work together again?
Jason Gedrick: Well, I'll just jump in on that one. Certainly the relationship between Donnie and I in Boomtown was, on camera, quite different, almost a role reversal of what happens in this story. And Donnie was already involved and definitely gave me a sense of comfort to know that he was going to make sure that I'd be ready. He was going to ask me if I really thought I could do it. He was concerned in a way that he has to look out for his business. On the other side, you know, it was always a playful experience on Boomtown when we weren't shooting, and this was no exception. There were many occasions where, on our 14th hour, we'd be shooting spitballs, during the bar scenes, at each other and everyone else on the crew, or just telling each other private jokes and laughing continuously. So that definitely created a certain camaraderie that I think is evident in the show and is vital to make this story work.
Jason, you've done a lot of things that have been very well received, and yet none of them have ever taken hold. Do you ever allow yourself to wonder if you're snake-bitten?
Jason Gedrick: You know, sure, there's been a time when I thought is making what I thought the best creative choice in terms of what my options are - if that's really the wrong thing to do, you know. Because most of the things that I've loved and cherished the most, five, six, sometimes ten years later are showing up on other networks in re-release. And you know, and then I took a step back, and I thought I've been doing this 20 years, you know. And I'm still up on a podium, and I'm still in this business, and things are still working. And I'm working with great, great people. And I continue to do that. I'm appreciative that, you know, there's still a place for me. And I've never stopped working hard. And as far as things taking hold, it's all a roll of the dice, why certain things work. How many things have you read about, you know, were deemed a failure and then were put on because something else was lost, just on accident turns into a hit? It happens a lot. And maybe in terms of a show that sticks, maybe I just peak late.
This is a one timer - a TV movie. Are you still taking pitches for series, or would you prefer to continue doing these?
Jason Gedrick: You know, I don't think I'm going to change my course of action. As far as I'm concerned, you know, this being a true story with all the people that are involved in this project, it's a no-brainer. Working with, you know, Paul Haggis, Bobby Moresco, or Steven Bochco, I really have a great list of people I've worked with and very gratefully so. And it doesn't matter to me. To me, it's about could it really be something great? And I do everything I can to make it such.
Donnie Wahlberg: The thing that I admire most about him is -- it's a valid question, but he doesn't change. He comes to work. And as an actor, that's all we really can control. I mean, we did Boomtown together. Most of you guys loved it to death, and you know, I'm sure NBC would probably take those ratings now if they could have Boomtown on the air right now.
You know, but actors can only control what they can control. And that's really, hopefully, to have a few choices and make the right ones and to show up and do the work. And you know, for -- you could easily take the perception that Jason Gedrick has sort of been like a George Clooney and his ER hasn't come in yet. He's done a lot of pilots and a lot of quality stuff, but --
Jason Gedrick: Would you repeat that, please?
Donnie Wahlberg: Well, better-looking George Clooney. Sorry. But to me, I look at it as this kid is a veteran. And when I knew he was coming to work with me, I knew he was going to show up ready to work and to work hard and to do everything he can and to be humble, humble enough to, you know, confide in me, to confide in Andy, to confide in Sonny, and to humble -- to be humble enough to want to do the best and not to presume that he is the best. And to me, that's a sign of a true professional. You know, Paris Hilton is a huge star, probably bigger than both of us, and what does she do?
You can't control what people gravitate to and what they don't. We can only control the work that we do and try to give it the best that we can. And for me, it's an honor to work with him because he strives to be the best he can be, and that's what I do.
Jason Gedrick: Thanks.
Donnie, just on this general subject of being resilient in Hollywood, a show like Boomtown, the first drama on a new network and it just vanishes at a finger snap, did that kind of shock you that it went away that fast? How many episodes are still out there that haven't aired?
Donnie Wahlberg: It didn't shock me. Look, in this business nothing shocks me. Really, honestly. You know, you just don't know. I mean, a new network, you know, they're obviously going to try to find their legs. It's going to take time. You roll the dice. As I said, I've worked on the biggest networks and been totally bewildered by some of the choices I've seen. So working on a new up-and-coming network, I'm not going to be surprised by the choices that they make. And to me, it's all a risk. You just don't know. I mean, the network itself is taking risks. The question earlier, sort of trying to understand the network, you know, this network has a lot of viewers. And they want to be entertained in a lot of different ways. And you take some chances. You take some risks.
Every job in Hollywood is a risk. You know, you don't know, when you sign a contract, if something is going to pop, if -- you know, you don't know whether this network is going to support your show or this -- you just don't know. You just show up and do the best work you can do, gravitate towards the best material, you know, and try to make the right choices. And the rest of it is a roll of the dice. I know when I go to bed at night, I know I put it all out there on screen. So that's really all I can control. The rest is up to an audience or an executive somewhere who makes the right decision at the right time. It's beyond my control.
When you portray somebody who is real but is not known to the public, how accurate do you want to capture his characteristics, or do you just want to capture the spirit and create a whole different character?
Donnie Wahlberg: Well, again, you know, it's a thin line. It's a movie, so it has to be entertaining. But you know, I'm playing a guy who lived it, so there's no reason for me to come in and think that I know something more than him. I may know how to hit my mark better than him or how to take advantage of the lighting, you know, or I can suggest to the director how to make the scene better. But this is -- this guy and Sonny (Grosso, executive producer), I mean, these guys have done this for a living. And I'm trying to walk into their world and convince you that I can actually do that.
So it's only in my best interest to confide in them and to depend on them and to try to be as authentic as possible, you know, and every now and again make suggestions to them that may be cinematically more dramatic to maybe make a scene pop just a little bit more. But if they were to say, "No way, you just can't do that in this circumstance," I'd probably defer to them nine times out of ten because I feel a responsibility to them, you know. They're showing me -- they're teaching me about their world. Who am I not to listen?
Was it important to capture his idiosyncrasies and the way he speaks and moves?
Donnie Wahlberg: Well, we kind of did look alike a little bit down there. It was sort of unintentional. There's certain things that -- you know, he smokes cigars, and in the movie I didn't smoke cigars. I smoked cigarettes.
Kings of South Beach is currently airing on A&E.