The Max Payne video game, which first appeared in 2001, was so successful that it spawned a sequel in 2003. Now it’s been adapted for the screen in a major action movie in which Mark Wahlberg takes the role of the cop determined to track down the thugs who murdered his wife and child, with Chris Bridges, aka music star Ludacris, in support as the internal affairs detective who gets on his case when his methods lead to more deaths. Both came to Dallas to talk about the picture.

“I didn’t know the video game existed,” Wahlberg admitted. “I got ahold of the script and read it. And I go with my instincts. I thought it was going to be a great movie and a great part, and where it originated didn’t really matter. They told me it was based on a video game afterward.” That’s when he took a look at the game, though when asked if he played it much, he said, “I didn’t. But my assistant is a game geek, so he started playing it, and I literally had to take it away from him. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t like Miss Pac Man that they’re trying to turn into a movie—because those are the kind of games I grew up playing. But video games have changed quite a bit, and this one’s very much like a movie. It’s got a very elaborate story. I was impressed, and I thought we could make a really cool movie, and satisfy the game fans and also introduce a whole bunch of other people to the character.”

For Bridges, the route to his part was a bit different. He’d come to acting almost by accident, when director John Singleton offered him a role in “2 Fast 2 Furious,” and now balances movies with his music. “I seek out different challenges, and I seek out great projects, and I love working with people that are going to put my game even further up,” he said, “because I’m in it for the long haul. It’s a marathon, it’s not a race. And it’s introduced a whole new fan base. I’ve got people coming up to me now who know me from my movies, and not my music.”

The detective role was particularly unusual because, as Bridges explained, it “was written for a sixty-year old white man. And it’s just crazy to me, because I went in and I really didn’t know the expectations, because I knew it was for a sixty-year old white man. But I went in and auditioned, and the next thing I knew, I got a call from the director saying I got the part.” He added with a laugh, “And I enjoyed it because I was able to point a gun at Mark Wahlberg. That’s why I wanted to do this role.”

Wahlberg embraced the many physical demands of the title role—to a point. “I love the idea of it, I love the first couple of weeks. And then, you know, a guy’s trying to beat the crap out of you every single day in the course of the production, and I’m like, okay, I should be doing a romantic comedy. And then the elements were extremely difficult. It was very cold in Canada. Max Payne in sunshine and palm trees just wouldn’t be the same, and they wanted it to be as cold and miserable and gloomy as possible. Part of me wanted to be on a warm sound stage, acting with Charlize Theron or someone.

“But these are the kinds of movies I like to watch, so I’ve got to tough it out. I’ve always wanted to be an athlete, I’ve always wanted to do Dirty Harry, so you’ve just got to tough it out. It was just never comfortable. But Max isn’t supposed to be comfortable. He’s supposed to be an angry, mean guy. So it did help me get into that.”

Wahlberg praised director John Moore both for his work with the actor and for his visual sense. “John and I had the same approach to the character,” he said. “I didn’t want to do the kind of brooding guy, man of few words, very one-note. This is a guy who’s driven by emotion—his wife and child have been brutally murdered—so I wanted to have a chance to raise my voice, get in people’s faces, and be funny at any time possible, to try to make it at least a little more layered. We were on the same page on that.” And when he queried the director about the huge sets for scenes described in the script on a much smaller scale, he recalled the reply: “My name is John Moore, not John less.” He added, “So right from the get-go I knew everything was going to be gigantic. He gives you bang for your buck. He knows how to stretch it and make it work. And he knew I was willing to go there.”

Both Wahlberg and Bridges predicted that “Max Payne” would be well received. “We went to ComiCon,” Wahlberg said, “and it was like a rock concert, man, people were so jazzed up. And then when they saw the clips, it was like a standing ovation. People were cheering. I didn’t know this whole world existed—it was my first time experiencing something like that. It was nice to know they were happy that I was playing the part. And with the level of action and intensity in the movie, people that are into this kind of thing are going to thoroughly enjoy it.”

Bridges also expressed amazement at the loyal fans they met at the convention. “They know when the movie’s coming out before we do, and we’re in it,” he said. He added, “I think they’re going to enjoy it. It’s ahead of the curve. They’re going to walk away wanting more.”

And that brought the thought that just as the game led to a follow-up, the movie might as well (a possibility the picture holds open). “There may be a sequel, and you see I didn’t die in the first one,” Bridges joked. “Mark said he’s never done a sequel. I’m hoping that this will be the movie that will make him do a sequel. That would be great.”