First on Wahlberg’s list of dream directors was Martin Scorsese. Luckily, the actor had just finished working with the auteur on The Departed. With an aim to start filming in Massachusetts in June 2007, Wahlberg asked Scorsese to read the script, citing his classic Raging Bull as inspiration. But Scorsese wasn’t interesting in directing another boxing movie.
In March 2007, Wahlberg found the ideal director in Darren Aronofsky, who had just finished up work on divisive sci-fi The Fountain. As another re-write was passed, this one from the desk of scribe Scott Silver, production looked good to go.
But then Aronofsky departed, favouring his own The Wrestler over Wahlberg’s boxing yarn. All was not lost, though, as Christian Bale had signed on to play Dicky (a role initially intended for Brad Pitt), and filming was pencilled in for October 2008.
Finally, Wahlberg called on his buddy David O. Russell to take the helm, the duo having worked together previously on Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees. “Russell really had a great view of the script,” says Wahlberg, “of this world and the people in it. David got that scrappy spirit of the movie, and we did exactly that.”