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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Mark Wahlberg; Interview With Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard; Interview With Jimmy Fallon

Aired January 28, 2012 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, the fighter Mark Wahlberg battles his way up from the mean streets of Boston.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK WAHLBERG, ACTOR: As soon as I ended up being incarcerated, I said, you know, this is not the life for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Rapper, underwear model, movie star and producer. He's a sex symbol who promises his wife no sex scenes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAHLBERG: It's just uncomfortable and awkward. You know, I wouldn't want to see her doing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Plus, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard. Their remarkable movie about heroic black pilots from World War II. A film that even George Lucas had to fight to make.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRENCE HOWARD, ACTOR: Until he tried to make a, quote/unquote, "black film" or for black stars in an action movie, he didn't really understand what it was like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(SINGING)

MORGAN: Mark Wahlberg has had an extraordinary career going from a tough kid on the mean streets of Boston to a net worth of $150 million. He's been a rapper with the platinum album, an underwear model plastered up in Times Square and an Oscar-nominated actor and producer.

My favorite Mark Wahlberg's movie is "Boogie Nights." He's even retained his hard-fought status at the advanced old age of 40.

And he joins me now.

I see you're raising your eyebrows at your estimated net worth.

Did we -- did we get it too low?

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: No.

Is there a check on what someone has been withholding?

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: My gosh.

MORGAN: Are any of these figures ever true that you read about?

(CROSSTALK)

WAHLBERG: Not -- not usually, unless it's a divorce settlement.

MORGAN: But you --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: You've -- but you're -- your movies have grossed $1.5 billion.

WAHLBERG: That's good.

MORGAN: So you're not exactly on the -- on the breadline, are you?

WAHLBERG: No, no. I'm very fortunate and very blessed. Thank you.

MORGAN: Now, you said, famously, when you got to 40, you would retire and play golf.

What happened?

You're 40.

WAHLBERG: My golf game is crap.

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: It really is. It's bad. And, you know, I am -- I was just working at such a pace that I really felt like, you know, I need to figure out ways to spend more time with my family. And, you know, being off on location is very difficult. And, you know, 50 is the new 40, so talk to me in 10 years.

MORGAN: Do you feel like -- I mean, looking at you now, it's hard to remember the rapper, Marky Mark. There you are in your very immaculate suit, you know, the executive haircut -- all looking pretty grown-up, if you don't mind me saying.

WAHLBERG: I have a large team that made me over --

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: No, I just, you know, I've just grown up. You know, I've been very fortunate --

MORGAN: But do you feel you have?

WAHLBERG: Yes, in many ways. And certainly parenthood and -- and being a husband, you know, forces you to.

MORGAN: You've had an extraordinary upbringing, as I said at the start there. I mean, I -- I actually went to Dorchester in Boston once.

WAHLBERG: And you made it back. Surprise.

MORGAN: And I made it back.

And it was, you know, it felt like tough streets. And, you know, you've been very honest and open about those days.

When you look back on it, how tough was it, in reality, do you think?

WAHLBERG: Well, you know, it -- it depends. You know, I always wanted to be one of the guys. So in order to be one of the guys and have that kind of respect, you had to do things that were, you know, a little bit more dangerous. But as soon as I ended up being incarcerated, I said, you know, this is not the life for me.

MORGAN: I mean you -- you were a brawler. You got in -- you were a coke addict at sort of 13, 14. You got into gang stuff -- just about everything imaginable.

And then you had almost what looks like, from the outside, to be this kind of huge epiphany. As you say, coming from that prison experience, you were very lucky you met this Catholic priest who guided you.

Tell me about what was going through your mind, because for a lot of people, going to prison becomes the start of the rest of their life and it's not pretty.

How did you manage, do you think, to make that break, to get out of that culture?

WAHLBERG: Well, I had to make the choice personally. And then I had to focus on my faith. And my faith has really allowed me to overcome a lot of things, and hard work. You know, nothing comes easy, especially when you've got, you know, your back against the wall and you've got a lot going against you.

But I wanted to prove to people through my actions, not my words, that I was going to change and that I was going to make a positive impact on the community that I come from. And that's why I do so much youth work, and, you know, with our foundation and with inner city kids and partnering with Taco Bell and Graduate To Go Program. You know, I -- I could not forget about where I came from and find myself in this position without helping and giving back, so.

MORGAN: When that prison door shut for the first time and you were in the cell -- can you remember how you felt?

WAHLBERG: Of course. Of course. And I was -- I was 17 at the time and I was probably about 5'3," 115 pounds and it was -- it was -- it was pretty scary.

But now, again, I -- there was a lot of neighborhood guys there. I had a few confrontations and, you know, a couple of altercations. But, you know, it was really just a matter of OK, do I want to now get in jail, start getting high, doing that whole thing, or I am I just going to, you know, focus, start going to church and, you know, get out of here and never look back?

MORGAN: Did your behavioral pattern change dramatically when you came out?

WAHLBERG: It did, but it's also very hard because now you're back into that environment and it's not like all of a sudden I could say -- well, I grew up in this bad place and I don't want to be around these guys anymore, so I'm going to move to California or I'm going to move to New York. You're still in the neighborhood, so it actually makes it more difficult because now you're not one of the guys.

So if you're not with them, you're against them. And -- and that can be very difficult when, you know, going to the rain station to try to go to work and having a real job and, you know? But I had to -- I had to face them and, you know, you find out who your real friends are.

And now, looking back, you know, it -- those guys have to respect me for what I did, you know?

MORGAN: Rough though it was, and tough, what were the things that you got from that lifestyle which have been of benefit to you in the new world that you have?

WAHLBERG: Well, that real life experience is so much more powerful, I think, in my job, especially as an actor, than anything, and also in my business approach. You know, I was always a hustler. I was always a multitasker.

You know, even when I was doing stuff and selling drugs, I always kept a real job so my mother wouldn't question me where I got the money, how do I have a car, you know, how did I get a car the same day I got my license?

And -- but I have so much real life experience to draw on. Like with this role in "Contraband," you know, I always try to find some sort of personal connection to the part that I'm playing.

And like when I did "The Departed," you know, they were like do you want to meet the cops or something? I go I know these cops. I know this world better than anybody. Let me just do my thing. And so -- so that has been a plus, to be able to use those things now possibly.

MORGAN: Are you -- are you a very tough negotiator?

WAHLBERG: I'm not. I just make sure that my agent is.

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: And my manager. I'd say yes all day long. I don't say no to anybody or anything.

MORGAN: I mean, I've never met you, but I get a sense that you're, you know, I would imagine you can be pretty uncompromising.

WAHLBERG: In -- in my beliefs, certainly, and in my -- in my position when it comes to certain things in my creativity, yes. But, you know, I'm -- you do me a favor, I'll do you a favor. I don't like asking for favors, I like giving favors.

But, yes, look, you've got to whatever you've got to do to get the job done.

MORGAN: Do the streets ever leave you?

WAHLBERG: No. Absolutely not. You don't want them to. You have to -- you have to be able to that -- tap back into that, if need be.

MORGAN: You --

WAHLBERG: Especially now, being a father, four kids and two beautiful daughters.

MORGAN: Well, this is a fascinating way that your life has evolved, is that you're now in this very protective position and you have these two sons, these two -- two girls. And also you have your faith.

I've read that you go to Catholic mass every day. Is that right?

WAHLBERG: Yes. If I don't go to mass, necessarily, everyday, but I definitely go to the church every day. That's how I start my day. I like to get in there for about 15 to 20 minutes and say my prayers. And --

MORGAN: What does it bring you?

WAHLBERG: A very clear focus on what's important, expressing my gratitude for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, and a reminder everyday of what I need to do and what I need to focus on and what I need to stay away from.

MORGAN: When you pray, what do you pray for?

WAHLBERG: I pray to be a good servant to God, a father, a husband, a son, a friend, brother and uncle, a good neighbor, a good leader to those that look up to me and a good follower to those that are serving God and doing the right thing and people that it can look up to and, you know, try to emulate.

MORGAN: Let's take a little break.

I want to come back and talk about jct. I watched it the other night. It's an incredibly raw, visceral movie -- I mean, terrific to watch. But I want to talk to you about the parallels you said you drew on with your life and the character you play in the film.

WAHLBERG: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAHLBERG: You're going to have to talk me down who (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you better off?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One drink away from the worst day of my life. And I know I'm not the only one sitting in the circle that's had that same thought, right? That's all you got to do is work the steps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not doing another run, no way. So I can probably get us money, no problem.

WAHLBERG: It's not going away, Chris.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's a clip from Mark Wahlberg's new film, "Contraband." I mean, just to sum up the plot line, you play this reformed smuggler who gets sucked back into -- his relative has got sucked into this murky world.

WAHLBERG: Yes, his brother-in-law.

MORGAN: And so, you -- your character goes back into that murky world --

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: -- to try and save him.

WAHLBERG: Yes, which he actually -- my character actually loves the world. It's a thrill. But, you know, he has a wife and two children and his father is doing life in prison for smuggling.

And so, you know, but his brother-in-law is not the sharpest tool in the shed. And he's running some drugs for some very dangerous people. And when customs boards the boat, he has to dump it. And not only don't they want the money, but they want the street value of it, not the buy money back.

And so they threaten to go after me and my kids if he doesn't pay and kill him. And they've already killed his friend and hospitalized him.

So I end up going to Panama on a container ship and a lot of crazy things happen and I try to.

But what I loved about the character, he's very tough and very physical, but he's also very smart. And he has to do things in a very kind of practical way and all these different things that happen along the way. So I thought it was cool.

MORGAN: Yes. And he also, he goes through kind of moral, ethical dilemma every step of the way. You can almost live it with him.

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: But it's a very -- it is a very raw movie, isn't it?

WAHLBERG: Yes. And I love it that people start asking me, especially journalists, saying, well, I wonder why I started finding myself rooting for you and you're also a criminal. I say, yes, but I'm not as bad as the other guys in the movie, so if you want to root for me.

MORGAN: But also, because your character is being sucked in for ostensibly the right reasons --

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: I mean, he planned to help some --

WAHLBERG: I mean, would you do anything to protect your family and yourself?

MORGAN: It's an interesting -- well, it's an interesting moral dilemma, isn't it?

And when I'm watching the movie, you start thinking about stuff like that, how far would you go to help a relative who you loved and cared for in that position?

And I don't know the answer.

Do you know the answer?

WAHLBERG: You know, I -- I probably -- that would be probably the only reason why I'd ever go back to prison, if I had to do something to protect my family, you know, and there was no other -- there was no other means of doing it.

MORGAN: What do you family make of your career path?

WAHLBERG: It all depends on which part of my family.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: What are the positive parts and what are the negative?

WAHLBERG: Well, my kids could care less and they hate it when, you know, people come up to us when we're in public and, you know, and the paparazzi and stuff like that. And my family members are very proud of me. You know, my wife knows how hard I work to provide for our family and our future. And, you know, I -- and they're -- but most proud, you know, my mother and, you know, my dad, who before he passed away -- they're most proud of the fact that I was committed to my family first, to my wife and my children, that that was the most important part of my life.

MORGAN: You hinted before that your family, your parents in particular, when they brought you up -- you're one of nine kids, they -- they tried to sort of keep you in line, but clearly weren't that successful.

What have you learned as a parent from that experience? How -- I mean, obviously, it's easier for you.

WAHLBERG: Well, my parents -- yes, my parents both worked two jobs and were never hardly home. So we were left to our own devices. And, you know, you go outside and trouble is everywhere.

And for us, the -- the focus is, A, to keep them busy and to be involved in every aspect of their lives, you know, talk to them about everything and, you know, it's obviously the most important role that I'll ever play as father and husband. And I will not -- I will not fail.

MORGAN: Your wife doesn't like you doing sex scenes.

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: So your character --

WAHLBERG: Nor do I.

MORGAN: But the character was sort of probably had to have one and you did a deal not to have one, but the deal was you would still appear naked on screen, is that right?

WAHLBERG: Yes. How did you hear about it?

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: How did you hear about that?

MORGAN: Tell me about the deal.

WAHLBERG: Well, I waited until we were kind of in the film and I kept talking to the director. I'm like, you know, these guys have been going on for seven years, they don't really have that kind of sex anymore, you know?

And she's got -- she's a -- she's an actress in the movie and she has a sex scene with somebody else. That makes me go wild. I fall off the wagon, I ruin her evening and I basically become a complete mess.

But I was like I don't really think we need that, you know? Maybe a kiss, but they're not -- it's not like it's hot and heavy like it was when they met. And then he just kept -- he knew something was up.

So then they said, you know -- and then there was this other scene were, at the end, I have to take a bath, and it just supposed to be like a shot of me in the shower and you just probably saw my head and, you know, I'm trying to scrub away all this dirt and filth that I've just experienced and cleanse myself before I, you know, go to prison.

And -- and so the next thing you know, that -- that scene became this whole thing of me getting undressed and me standing there. And I was, you know, stark naked for a good eight hours in the --

MORGAN: But a deal worked in to keep your wife happy?

WAHLBERG: Yes. I don't like doing it either. You know, it's part of my job. She knows that I'm very professional.

It's just, it's -- it's uncomfortable and awkward. You know, I wouldn't want to see her doing that. And I don't like -- I don't like doing it.

MORGAN: And you've worked with some of the greats now in Hollywood. What have you learned about acting? I mean, who -- who do you really rate out there in the acting world?

WAHLBERG: Daniel Day-Lewis, Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington --

MORGAN: And what does it take to make a great actor? What makes a difference between a good actor --

WAHLBERG: Well, I think there are very different --

MORGAN: -- and a great actor?

WAHLBERG: -- kind of actors. You know, there are the kind of matinee idols, very, you know, beautiful actors. And then there are the kind of more real, gritty kind of guys that I identify with.

You know, I grew up watching Steve McQueen, James Cagney, John Garfield, Robert Ryan, you know, guys like that. I wouldn't really -- I couldn't really connect to the Cary Grants of the world.

But, you know, for me, it's -- it's just somebody that's -- that tries to make it real. I think less is more. I think you need to play parts that you're believable in. That helps.

MORGAN: Are you sad "Entourage" is over?

WAHLBERG: Very.

MORGAN: Because I'm distraught.

WAHLBERG: It was bittersweet, you know?

I mean, we never thought the show would last that long. But the fact that it did, you -- you almost felt like, you know, it will never end. But then it came to an end. But we are -- we're pushing hard to -- to get the movie made.

MORGAN: People say to me, it can't be like that. I say it is like that. I mean, that is the beauty of "Entourage."

WAHLBERG: That was really the toned down version --

MORGAN: Yes.

WAHLBERG: -- certainly of what my life used to be when I was young and crazy.

MORGAN: What do you think of the basic shallowness of Hollywood, the fact that if you're a hot star, everyone is crawling all over you, kissing ass, the moment it goes cold, boom?

WAHLBERG: That's why you need people around you that will keep you grounded. You know, people always say, why do you have your friends around? Like when I'm working on a movie, and I like to hire my friends. If we're going to hire somebody else to do the job, why don't I have somebody that I know and I trust, and has my best interests at heart?

MORGAN: What's the big dream role for you?

Have you got one out there that you think, if I get the chance, that's what I want to do?

WAHLBERG: I want to play you.

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: No, I --

MORGAN: Really? As high as that?

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: That kind of lofty ambition?

WAHLBERG: I don't know. I haven't really thought about it.

MORGAN: Let's take a little break and come back and talk about your foundation. I want to get really into the detail of this, how you're trying to basically stop kids opting out of school --

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: -- is the main tenet of it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAHLBERG: One of the leading factors in a teen's future success, a high school diploma. Too bad, nearly one in three U.S. teens fails to graduate. That's one teen dropping nearly every 26 seconds.

What can one person do to help? Takes just one dollar to create a lasting change in a teen's life. If there's one person can help empower those teens with the skills necessary to reach graduation. That's what one person can do.

Are you the one?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: A public service announcement for Mark Wahlberg's foundation. You teamed up here with Taco Bell and Graduate to Go. This is specifically the drop -- or it's to end the dropout rates in school. I mean, the stats are incredible. I mean, 7,200 kids a day drop out of school.

But what I found really absorbing was when you get down to the reasons that they give. The number one reason, getting a job supporting themselves or their families, not being able to keep up with school work, boredom, negative peer pressure, lack of support, motivation, safety and bullying. But down in that order.

So, the -- a third of these kids that drop out, actually, it's almost from necessity. They --

WAHLBERG: That's the reality.

MORGAN: They need -- they need money.

WAHLBERG: When I --

MORGAN: Now, how do you tackle that as a government?

If you're President Obama and you're trying to deal with this obviously huge problem, what do you do about that problem, that part of it, the need to finance a family?

WAHLBERG: Well, it's -- it's extremely difficult. I mean, you know, you look at the economy and the way it is.

When I -- when I was going to school, I knew how to read, write, add and subtract and I -- I basically said, what else do I need? I'm never going to be able to go to college. I'm not going to be able to afford to go to college. I'm not going to be able to get a scholarship.

So what am I going to do? I might as well just quit school now and start working. And so I started working at 14.

And, you know, a lot of families they, you know, they're faced with that on a daily basis, especially single parent homes, you know? And they have multiple siblings. So, it's -- it's -- you know, if -- I think if I had the answer to that question, I'd be in the office.

MORGAN: I mean, is it a slight problem for you when you face these kids and they know what you did and they say well, look at you. You dropped out, then you went to prison and now you're this billion dollar movie star?

WAHLBERG: And I say the odds of you doing that are slim to none.

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: So let's start with an education. Get an education so you have something to fall back on, because if I don't -- if I fail and my career ends tomorrow, I don't have anything else to fall back on, you know? I'm going to be sending my kids out to work.

And -- and, you know, but they get it. They know, because I talk to them very straightforward, you know, for -- there's my story and then there's 20 million kids and most of my friends are either dead or in jail. So -- and that's the reality. And they live in that world, so they get it. They know.

But I also tell them that, you know what, if there's anything you want to do, I am proof that you can do that. But I don't think by dropping out of school and starting today is the best idea, because, you know, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. If you can -- if you get your education, if you can get the highest education possible, get it. And then figure out, you know, whatever you want to do. If you want to pursue your dreams, go ahead.

MORGAN: We were talking in the break about the -- the similarities with your life now and Matt Damon's, who I had the pleasure of interviewing. He has a big passion about education, too, as you know.

He also has four young kids and you say you get mistaken for him quite a lot. And he does for you.

WAHLBERG: Yes. Yes. We have this kind of thing that we laugh about, you know, the last time I saw him that, you know, if somebody else comes up and says, you know -- you know, hey, Matt, I loved you in "The Bourne," I used to say thank you, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: Or if they say, are you Matt Damon, I would say, no, Brad Pitt.

(LAUGHTER)

WAHLBERG: And then -- and then -- and then he says, God, you know, all the time, you know, with "The Fighter" and, you know, "The Perfect Storm" and this movie and that movie. But we both have a similar approach to our job. It's our job. You know, other than that, we want to kind of be left alone and, you know, be with our families.

MORGAN: He seemed a very well-adjusted guy to me, Matt Damon.

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: Like he'd worked out life. In a way, I think you have, too. He'd worked out what is most important in his life.

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: And he works hard to keep that, stay in his marriage, his kids and so on. And you seem to have come to that place, as well.

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: How important has your wife been to you?

WAHLBERG: She's the most important person in my life. You know, she's my whole world, you know? And she's a wonderful mother, a wonderful wife. All of her focus is on the kids. She supports me in every single way. And, you know, we have a great thing going.

MORGAN: What's the future holding for you? What's in the pipeline?

WAHLBERG: A lot of different things. You know, I'm trying to build up my business, both in producing film and television and working on a lot of business outside of the entertainment industry. I always felt like the careers can be very short-lived. You don't know how long they're going to last. And I want to build something that it can have for my family.

So we're doing -- we launched Wahlburgers. We have another restaurant out in Alma Nove. I have to -- actually, I have to come on your show in a couple of minutes to talk about my new sports nutrition line.

MORGAN: Definitely.

WAHLBERG: We're -- we're going to be in GNCs in the spring and then I think in the summer we'll be in select Mass stores. And --

MORGAN: And what's the idea behind that?

WAHLBERG: You know, we want people to live a healthy lifestyle, you know?

I've always worked out and tried to maintain a -- you know, keep -- keep in shape. And we want to motivate people to stay in shape and perform at their best.

And we literally, we have some of the best people in the business coming up and just helping us design these formulas. And it's all science-based. And we partnered up with GNC. It doesn't get any better than those guys.

MORGAN: When you look back over this amazing career you've had, with all the twists and turns, if I had the power to let you relive one moment again, what would you choose?

WAHLBERG: I would probably choose not quitting school because that's when everything started to go downhill. That's when the drugs and the violence and all that stuff started to happen. So I would have to say that.

MORGAN: And because you went -- WAHLBERG: Because if I -- I can't really pick one, other than that, because there was thousands that I should have -- thousands of things that I should have changed or --

MORGAN: But that moment ended up being one of the great pivotal moments for you in many ways, not least in which the -- the passion you now bring to stopping other kids making that decision, which turned out to be, in the short-term, ruinous for you.

WAHLBERG: Yes. No, I agree. It's just, you know, you asked me. It's a -- it's a tough question to ask somebody who's been through a lot.

MORGAN: How do you feel, having got to 40? You're alive. You're healthy.

WAHLBERG: Whew.

MORGAN: You're happily married.

WAHLBERG: Whew.

MORGAN: You've got lovely children. A lot of people you knew in the old days, presumably, are either in jail or dead. You've said that already.

How do you feel?

WAHLBERG: Blessed. Very blessed. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. And I'm happy.

I'm just -- if my career ended today, I would be -- you know, I'd be fine, because I'm so happy, I've seen, done so much, you know. And my family is the most important thing.

MORGAN: What do you think your dad would have made of the Mark Wahlberg sitting in front of me now?

WAHLBERG: You know what, he was around long enough to see me turn it around. His proudest moment was when I got nominated for the Oscar for -- for "The Departed." And I called him and he goes, you know, you used to call me and tell me that, you know, you got this amount of money to make a movie and this amount of money, but now you can consider yourself a real actor. That's an accomplishment, because he used to watch the Academy Awards all the time as a kid. And he just loved movies. So he was so happy --

MORGAN: So he -- he got it, then.

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: In that moment, he understood --

WAHLBERG: Yes.

MORGAN: -- you had become a bona fide success story. WAHLBERG: Yes. And he had came to the set of "The Departed" and met Jack. And it was a -- it was a thrill for him.

MORGAN: It's been a thrill for me, Mark. It's an --

WAHLBERG: Oh, it's my pleasure.

MORGAN: -- amazing, inspiring story.

Thank you very much.

WAHLBERG: Thank you. I appreciate it.

MORGAN: And come back in and we'll talk about nutrition.

WAHLBERG: Yes, for sure.

MORGAN: God knows I need it.

When we come back, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard on the latest movie about a famous Tuskegee Airmen and how hard it was to get it made.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUBA GOODING JR. ACTOR: Sign up, you have shiny boots, a uniform. And that would be the end of 100 years of bigotry. You're colored men in a white man's army. It's a miracle you're flying fighters in Italy and not mopping latrines in Milwaukee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's Cuba Gooding Jr. in "Red Tiles," the extraordinary story of the Tuskegee Airmen heroes in World War II. They were the first ever black U.S> military pilots.

Joining me now is Cuba Gooding Jr. and his co-star, Terrence Howard. Welcome, gentlemen. I love this story. Because what I love about it are the parallels to actually the making of this movie.

GOODING JR.: Right.

MORGAN: Because here you had George Lucas, a very famous, very white, Hollywood legend.

TERRENCE HOWARD, ACTOR: Has a little bit of a tan.

MORGAN: With a tan, almost playing the role of this very brave colonel, Noel Parish (ph), in the movie, who decides to break the mold, to put black pilots into the military, into the air. George Lucas -- I think, Terrence, you've said this very eloquently recently about this movie -- the parallel is similar.

He's put a lot of well-known black actors into this movie and Hollywood instinctively was like this isn't going to work. And he's saying, I'm going to back my judgment. I'm going to back my money. I believe this will work.

Exactly the same kind of audacious move that Colonel Noel Parish took. When you made the movie, did you feel that, as you were making it, that this was life coming forward? In a different way, but a similar kind of struggle?

HOWARD: One of the things that he said when he first arrived in Prague, he said, remember, I'm not making a civil rights movie right here. I'm making a film about heroes. This is not about victims. This is a film about heroes. That was what he impressed us with.

GOODING JR.: It's an action movie with an all black cast, you know. And it is -- there's an audience for it.

MORGAN: But that shouldn't matter, should it? Why are we still saying things like that? There's a black president, for God sakes.

GOODING JR.: That's right.

MORGAN: Why would that even come into the equation? But it has. And the battle goes on. The movie's coming out. It's a 58 million dollar movie.

GOODING JR.: Oh, it's more than that. Visually, it has 16,000 visual effect shots in it, OK. It's a huge budget.

MORGAN: Cuba, tell me what you feel about George Lucas in doing this.

GOODING JR.: I would kiss him right in the mouth. I'd be one man kissing another man right in his mouth. I'm serious.

MORGAN: A big thing for this man to do.

HOWARD: What he lent himself to -- I mean this was a 23-year-old -- 23-year passion project.

GOODING JR.: That's right.

HOWARD: And then after making this film and taking it to the first studio and then they say no, he goes to the other six studios and hears the same thing.

MORGAN: For people watching this who haven't seen the movie and don't know much about the Tuskegee Airmen, tell me, in a very short way, why they are so important.

GOODING JR.: They're so important because they represent African- American's contribution to the war efforts of World War II. They did bomber -- bomber escort over the skies of Berlin.

HOWARD: And they ultimately had their own bomber squadron.

MORGAN: But the significance was, until they went up, there had been no black U.S. military pilots. GOODING JR.: At all.

HOWARD: Ultimately this led to the integration of the U.S. military.

GOODING JR.: That's right. They kicked off the civil rights movement.

HOWARD: What was so good the Tuskegee Airmen, whereas most white pilots, they would have three months of training before they would be shipped out into the middle of a fight. But the black pilots, they didn't have anyone that would take them. So they had 2.5 years of training.

GOODING JR.: Years.

HOWARD: So the moment that they got into the air, they were aces.

MORGAN: They shot down 100 German planes.

GOODING JR.: That's right.

HOWARD: Mind you, they didn't go into the war thinking -- they didn't go into school thinking, I'm going to become a pilot. They went to school to become doctors or lawyers. They just happened to, for the sake of contributing to the country -- decided to become pilots and happened to be marvelous --

MORGAN: Let's watch another clip from this remarkable film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We count our victories by the bombers we get to their targets, by the husbands we return to their wives, by the fathers we give back to their children.

What has not changed, what will never change, from the last plane to the last bullet to the last minute to the last man we fight, we fight.

CROWD: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's "Red Tails." I hope everyone goes to watch this, because I think it's important they do. Does it shock you that Hollywood is still so antiquated? I would say even borderline racist in the way that it has treated this movie so far? Is it shocking?

HOWARD.: No, it's par -- it's par for the course. Anytime you're trying to change barriers, break barriers, you know, and break a fiduciary established means of trading money or saying who should receive money --

MORGAN: I guess in the case of this movie, an excuse to not take the risk.

GOODING JR.: That's exactly right. MORGAN: And the easy excuse is we can't sell a black movie. Let's be honest, that's what they're basically saying.

GOODING JR.: Because no matter what color you are, being American is cool. It really is cool. And our history -- these boys explained how something like a Barack Obama -- President Barack Obama can happen. A lot of time -- we were saying this earlier --

MORGAN: Actually, I'll tell you what, hold that very thought. Let's have a quick break and come back and talk about Barack Obama. Because his anointment as president of this country should have been an incredible transformatory move. Was it? That's what I want to know after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: Show me the money.

GOODING JR.: That's it, brother, but you've got to yell that (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

CRUISE: Show me the money.

GOODING JR.: I need to feel you, Jerry.

CRUISE: Show me the money!

GOODING JR.: Jerry, you better yell.

CRUISE: Show me the money!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's Cuba Gooding Jr. in "Jerry Maguire," delivering one of my favorite movie lines ever, one that I scream at my own agent every night. He rightly won an Oscar for that role. And Terrence Howard was nominated for an Oscar in his breakout role in the 2005 film "Hustle and Flow."

We were talking before about this ground-breaking movie you made. Shouldn't really be ground-breaking. Are you surprised that we're three years after President Barack Obama is elected, and you're still having to have this kind of battle in a place like Hollywood?

GOODING JR.: Absolutely.

HOWARD: You would think that since Obama broke the ground, that the world would be wide open. But once the ground is broken, you still have to plow that land. And that's what George Lucas is doing right now. He's plowing that land. Some of those rocks are still there. You've got to break them down.

GOODING JR.: That's right.

HOWARD: But the film stands for itself.

GOODING JR.: That's right.

MORGAN: I asked a lot of guests this when they come. Do you believe that since Barack Obama was elected, America has become more or less racist?

GOODING JR.: I hope -- you know, I'm an optimist, so I think less racist. If you think about it, when I grew up, I didn't know that there were Tuskegee Airmen. I didn't know that there were these stories of black accomplishment in America.

So, yeah, it would look like it's just -- you know you have "the Color Purple." You have "Glory." What other black stories are you being told on the grand scale?

This is the first of its kind. This is an African-American action film that tells about black heroes in history. I think that to me is why this film is so healing for our foreign brand.

HOWARD: I don't think that it's become more of a racist or less of a racist. I think now it's shown itself. Before, you didn't have to deal with --

MORGAN: That's my sense, is it actually -- it just brought it back to the fore. The race issue has become more wide spread, much more public, because there's a black president. That in itself may not be a bad thing.

GOODING JR.: Right, right.

HOWARD: Because now you can deal with it.

MORGAN: Now it can be publicly properly debated. How do you think Barack Obama's been doing as president?

GOODING JR.: You know, it's a hard job. He was put in the White House with the economy falling apart and a bunch of troops over there fighting a losing battle. And he said, I'm going to bring them home. He did. All right? He's bringing them home. He's doing -- you know, and I'm not -- to me and politics, it's, like, I'm an actor first. So I'm not taking any sides --

(CROSS TALK)

HOWARD: He's been forced to make so many compromises. And still because of trying to clean up the mess that was before him, he hasn't been in a position to do the things that he had set forth in his campaign. Now if he got another opportunity, perhaps he'll be able to handle that. But with all the things that these new bills that's been passed, I mean, he even has me wondering. And I've been the biggest Barack Obama supporter from the start. But I know that his heart is in the right place.

But, my God, how do you deal with all of the pressures coming from every possible place?

MORGAN: It's almost an impossible job. I don't know why anyone would want to be president. He has been a bit diffident. He hasn't dealt, I don't think, with the Republicans in a strong enough way. He hasn't dealt with getting stuff done. He hasn't really had his own mission statement and driven it through.

I suspect if he does win the election, you'll see a very different Barack Obama.

GOODING JR.: Absolutely. I don't agree with everything he's said and done. But, you know, you can't deny the accomplishments.

HOWARD: His heart is in the right place.

GOODING JR.: -- as an African-American man, what he has accomplished.

HOWARD: I believe where his heart is at. But, you know, when you're dealing with a bipartisan world, it's not even just America in itself. It's not even the government. You're dealing with a bipartisan world, where everyone seems to be pulling at each other.

I think we all need to either stand behind him or grab somebody and stand behind them. We need to do it as a whole.

MORGAN: Doesn't the movie that you've made here -- doesn't that absolutely -- and, indeed, the making of this movie, doesn't that show you that you have to have courage?

GOODING JR.: Right.

MORGAN: You have to have an instinct for taking a big gamble and for pushing against that kind of partisan view, doesn't it?

GOODING JR.: Well said what you just said. The movie starts the healing process, absolutely. That's why you should all go see it.

MORGAN: I think you should all go see it. It's been fascinating talking about it. Best of luck with it. I think it's a terrific movie. "Red Tails." opens in theaters on Friday, January 20th. Please go and see it. It's an important film.

Thank you both very much. It's been a real pleasure.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)