Mark Wahlberg 'Contraband' Star: 'I'm Going To Play Gary Glitter'
"I'm going to play Gary Glitter," says Mark Wahlberg.
The Contraband star is sitting in a suite in Claridge's Hotel in London, next to a man called Howard who was, he says, the shamed pop star's manager. Wahlberg is talking about which role he'd like to play next, having made his mark in Hollywood playing a roll call of tough-men, including his acclaimed portrayal of pumped-up boxer "Irish" Micky Ward in The Fighter.
As his friend lets out an involuntary "oh no" at Wahlberg's Glitter gag, the enigmatic star quickly clarifies: "No, not really." Before adding: "I met Howard when Gary kicked him out of the house and I took him in… no, no it's all in fun."
So if he doesn't want to play the disgraced musician and convicted pedophile - what does the former rapper - then known as Marky Mark - ex-Calvin Klein model-turned-actor and producer want to tackle next?
"I just try to find new things that excite me and that I think people will enjoy watching me play," he answers, less confusingly.
Wahlberg's latest action flick Contraband sees him take on the role of a reformed drug smuggler. His likeable but hard character, Chris Farraday, works as a security alarm installer whose quiet life in New Orleans with wife Kate (played by Kate Beckinsale) is thrown into disarray when her brother's drug run goes awry dragging his family into a mob hunt.
Contraband's already a Box Office hit in America, taking $24m (£15.7m) in its opening week. What does Wahlberg think has attracted people to it?
"It's an action movie but it's also character-driven and plot-driven and I think that's what people were really excited about. They don't always do that in action movies."
The film is a remake of Icelandic film Reykjavik-Rotterdam, which Wahlberg says he "loved", however, he makes it clear Contraband is no carbon copy: "We did our own thing and kind of Americanised it, but the same guy that starred in the original and produced it also directed ours. I wouldn't say it's better - it's different, we tried to make it our own while also staying true to the original."
There are lots of tense, edge-of-your-seat moments in the action thriller, but one that was particularly difficult to watch involves Kate Beckinsale being buried alive, wrapped in plastic, while being covered in cement.
"That was her first day of shooting, talk about chucking her right into it. It was freezing cold, she is such a trooper getting right in there and doing it.
"It wasn't a dummy she got in there, when you weren't seeing her, it wasn't her in there but when I'm pulling her out and all that stuff, that's really her."
Although Wahlberg said he hasn't "really thought about" a sequel to Contraband, the film has inspired him to make a docudrama about the Port of LA. He explains, "it follows all the different law enforcement agencies that are there and trying to control some sort of order in this crazy world, with the container ships coming in out."
Wahlberg has been fortunate to have success as both an actor and a producer - his Hollywood comedy-drama Entourage ran for eight seasons and was nominated for 24 Primetime Emmy Awards and 14 Golden Globes - thus he's happy not to have to choose between being in front of or behind the camera.
"I like doing it all, it's really beneficial when you're producing a film that you're acting in, as you maintain a lot more creative control and you can fire people.
"I can't even fire an assistant. I have fired but I've rehired. I feel bad after."
The question on his fans' lips is usually: "When's Entourage the movie coming?" Wahlberg's not giving much away, but he does tease: "We're just waiting for the screen play."
Contraband is released March 16.