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Mark Wahlberg Recalls 'Aggressive' Fight With The Yards Co-Star Joaquin Phoenix

The Yards Mark Wahlberg Joaquin Phoenix

Mark Wahlberg is currently busy getting his ass kicked repeatedly in Spenser Confidential, his new movie that just released on Netflix. It brought up his history of giving and taking beatings on screen. On that note, Wahlberg just punched down memory lane, including that raw and real fight he had with co-star Joaquin Phoenix for The Yards.

Remember that? Mark Wahlberg sure does.

The Yards came out in October 2000, and featured a fight scene between Mark Wahlberg's Leo, Joaquin Phoenix's Willie, and -- briefly -- Charlize Theron's Erica. The conflict really started after Willie slapped Erica. Leo attacked Willie, and actors Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix took their fight down a flight of stairs into the street, rolling over each other, pulling up each other's clothes.

The fight got "aggressive," as Mark Wahlberg recalled to USA Today (opens in new tab):

It became one of the better fights that I have a been a part of. He didn't know what I was going to do. I didn’t know what he was going to do. I think he wished he knew what I was going to do after the first night of shooting because it got pretty aggressive. He's a gamer, he's a method guy. Between him and Ben Foster, they’ll beat their heads off the side of a tree to get into character.

Yes, Joaquin Phoenix is known for getting into character with intensity, which is part of why he just finally won an Oscar this year for Joker. Ben Foster has worked with fellow Boston native Mark Wahlberg on several films, including Lone Survivor, and he's known for his intensity too. Mark Wahlberg is known for being a scrappy working class native who got into the business on the music side first. No one really considers him one of Hollywood's greatest actors, although he was the one who earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination after The Departed.

Back to that scene in The Yards, though. Before watching the clip below, relive what Joaquin Phoenix said about it back in 2000, when describing the fight to The Guardian:

Mark and I blocked it out of ourselves. We wanted it to be an epic battle, falling down the stairs and out on to the street. We had elbow pads and knee pads, but on the first take Mark just grabbed me with his pinkie, flipped me into the air and I landed on my head. Man, did I have a bump. I was black and blue for days. But I sure as hell wasn't gonna do any fucking John Wayne-style punching. I wanted it to be sloppy and barbaric and painful, like I'm hugging the life out of this guy who's my friend while I'm pounding at him.

Watch how that scene played out in The Yards:

Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg obviously didn't carry over any hard feelings after the film, since they reunited for James Gray's We Own the Night. They probably earned even more respect with the commitment.

Now Mark Wahlberg is promoting Spenser Confidential, his fifth movie with director Peter Berg. He had to lose weight fast for this movie, which Berg had never expected from him before. Was it worth it? The reviews are out from critics, but it's not clear yet how fans feel. Have you seen it yet?

Gina Carbone
Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.