A. Yeah, you know, there’s a much bigger problem going on. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But, yeah, I think about a lot of things, being a parent and a husband now. All of that comes into play when I think about what I want to do.
Q. You’re also a Catholic who goes to church regularly. Does that influence the decisions you make?
A. My faith and my family are the most important things in my life. I’ve made a lot of movies. I hope God’s a movie fan.
Q. You’ve had success doing comedies, with “Ted” and the movie you did with Will Ferrell, “The Other Guys.” You get a different audience with those movies. Do you find comedy difficult to do?
A. There have been comedic elements to my performances going back to “Boogie Nights” and “Basketball Diaries.” But doing a full-blown comedy is a different thing. It’s all a matter of finding the right vehicle. It really comes down to the material. My approach to doing comedy is the same as it is for drama: Play the part as real as possible. Comedy has got to come from the commitment to the absurdity of the situation. Playing it as straight as possible, which I did in “Ted.” That bear was real. He was my best friend. We smoked pot all day, and I tried to balance keeping my girlfriend happy and spending time with my best friend. You have to be, like, OK, this is really happening. How else are you going to get an audience to buy into a concept like that?
Q. It was also well written.
A. Absolutely. You can’t have me falling through tables and making funny faces.
Q. In addition to being an actor, you’ve had a very successful career as a producer. Last time we talked, you called yourself a businessman. What is the thing that makes you happy? Is it money? Awards? Recognition?
A. Awards and accolades are nice but it’s not why I make movies. I make movies to entertain people but also to be successful. Films have to be successful in order for them to give you more money to make more films. So I want to make great things that are enjoyed by everybody. Every time we make a movie, no matter what kind of movie it is, we’re trying to make the best version we can. So I’d say making successful films is the most important thing to me.
Q. You’ve done that.
A. It’s funny because when I started producing, I was always trying to find and develop material for myself so that I wasn’t waiting around for Hollywood or a studio to send me the script that was going to change my career. When I started producing, I had an in with television so I started producing television. And as the economy started to change and studios started crying poverty because the DVD business was going down the toilet, the only way to make movies was to do it with the television approach: less time and less money. So when ‘The Fighter’ was originally a $70 million movie, we were able to make it for $11 million, and the same thing with ‘Contraband’ and with this movie and with [the upcoming] ‘Lone Survivor’ and with ‘2 Guns’ with Denzel [Washington]. That movie was supposed to be north of $100 million and we figured out a way to make it for a lot less. So many people don’t know how to adapt. They think it’s impossible to make a movie in 40 days for X amount of money. It’s crazy. I try to explain to them the process, and they just can’t wrap their heads around it.
Publicist: I’m sorry to interrupt, but last question.
Q. Oh, we’re done? OK.
A. That’s what happens when studios get involved.
Q. You’re getting involved in a few reality TV projects, including one that’s based on the CBS show “The Big Bang Theory,” but at a local university. I must say, that seems like a brilliant idea. Tell me about it.
A. We’re working on it as we speak, and next time I go to Boston I’m going to try to meet with everybody so we can sit down and explain to [MIT] exactly what we want to do. I, too, think it’s a brilliant idea, but it’s all in the execution. I want [the university] to know they’ll be in good hands and our intentions are coming from a good place. People hear “reality TV” and they get crazy. When they hear docu-series, which is what we’re interested in doing, it’s all about quality and integrity. So we’ll articulate that message to them in person.
Mark Shanahan can be reached at shanahan@ globe.com.