A visibly pensive Mark Wahlberg threw his hat into the Best Actor race Tuesday night at AFI Fest, where the star of Peter Berg’s intense military drama Lone Survivor took the stage reluctant to go through the usual actorly rigamarole. Wahlberg plays Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the only member of SEAL Team 10 to make it home from the failed 2005 Operation Red Wings mission in Afghanistan in which 19 soldiers died. “For us to talk about what we went through up on that mountain is just so fake and so false considering what these guys did and what they went through,” he told moderator/AFI Fest Director Jacqueline Lyanga after the film’s TLC Chinese Theatre premiere where he, Berg, and Luttrell sat for an emotional Q&A. “Seeing the movie again tonight reminded me of what Marcus went through. Having a family and having a wife that I love more than anything, and having four kids I’d do anything to protect — or in my case, provide for — it hit me, the fact that those guys will never see their families again. For actors to sit there and say, ‘Oh, I went to SEAL training’ … I don’t give a fuck what you did. You don’t do what these guys do. For somebody to sit there and say my job is as difficult as somebody in the military – how fucking dare you?”

A more cynical Oscar-watcher might read Wahlberg’s declaration as self-serious awards-season posturing. But the AFI Fest audience — including servicemen, Luttrell’s own team members, family, and friends mixed in with the usual industry crowd — applauded the sentiment. Luttrell’s Texas charm and dashes of levity certainly helped raise the mood. He shared his initial apprehension at any filmmaker Hollywoodizing his 2007 bestseller Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwing And The Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 and recalled how he and Berg first met on the set of the director’s Hancock. (more…)