Throughout his career, Mark Wahlberg has repeatedly taken on acting challenges portraying characters that are based on real people -- in 'Invincible,' 'The Perfect Storm,' 'The Basketball Diaries' and, of course, 'Planet of the Apes.' (Just kidding about that last one.) But his latest role, playing aspiring boxer Micky Ward in 'The Fighter,' Wahlberg not only had to get into character, but he also had to get into some of the best shape of his life. Meanwhile, he also produced the film and shepherded it through the tumult of multiple co-stars and directors, ultimately recruiting his 'I Heart Huckabees' and 'Three Kings' collaborator David O. Russell to take the helm, and impressively, elevate it beyond sports movie conventions to become a powerful portrait of persistence, passion, and familial solidarity.

Cinematical recently sat down with Wahlberg at the Los Angeles press day for 'The Fighter' for an intimate chat about the struggle to get this particular story on the screen. In addition to dissecting the boxing clichés and bad accents of Boston movies past, Wahlberg examined his dual role as star and producer, and offered some insights into his career strategies as a guy who continues to take on new and different challenges.