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Wahlberg Reveals Why Warner Bros. Turned Down Sequel for The Departed

In a radio interview for KFC Radio this week, acting giant Mark Wahlberg revealed why his hoped-for sequel to The Departed never saw the light of day after its release in 2006. Though the film won four Oscars, including one for Best Picture, a proposal for a second installment was received lukewarmly by the moguls at Warner Bros., said Wahlberg.

This despite the fact that some big names were suggested for the sequel, including Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt. Also, that the script would have been written by Bill Monahan, who scored one of those Oscars, for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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Wahlberg himself, who played the role of police sergeant Sean Dignam, won that year’s trophy for Best Supporting Actor.

Wahlberg had had an inkling from the start that his proposal was destined for the trash bin, describing the moment he and screenwriter Bill Monahan floated the idea: “Let’s just say the pitch didn’t go very well. [Bill] didn’t really have anything [fleshed] out.”

In a 2011 Monahan explained that he didn’t like to “do synopses” or pitches, two things that Warner Bros. executives like to see. “I know the film, I’ve got the film in my head,” he added.

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Describing his proposal in depth, he declared “My idea actually [was] to set the film before, during, and after the action of the first film, which I think would be extraordinary.”

This wasn’t the only time a pitch by Wahlberg and Monahan fell flat. Their hopes for Cocaine Cowboys and American Desperado likewise fell on deaf ears, though they would eventually collaborate on The Gambler, released in 2014.

As Ruth Coolidge points out on this week, Wahlberg’s film Spenser Confidential makes reference to The Departed, though of course it doesn’t qualify as a sequel. She writes:  At the same time, a totally fresh story with Wahlberg’s Dignam at the center many years after The Departed’s events could be quite interesting. … Although it looks like Mark Wahlberg’s concept for The Departed 2 isn’t destined to make it, it’s still a great idea in some ways.

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Edward Moran
Edward Moran
Edward Moran began his journalistic career many decades ago as a theater and cinema reviewer for Show Business and the New York Theater Review. More recently he contributed film reviews to and Movie Sleuth. His writings have appeared in publications as diverse as the Times Literary Supplement, Publishers Weekly, the Paris Review, and the Massachusetts Review. Moran also edited a memoir by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Christine Choy. He served as literary advisor to her film Hyam Plutzik: American Poet, which was the keynote film in the American Perspectives series at the 2007 Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.


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