Arthur the King’s Mikael Lindnord on Mark Wahlberg Portraying the Former Adventure Racer

John Nguyen

Based on the true story of an adventure racing team’s captain who befriends a wounded stray dog named Arthur, Arthur the King stars Mark Wahlberg (Family Plan, Ted) and Simu Liu (Barbie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings). Their journey will have them trekking a 435-mile endurance race through the Dominican Republic. The Lionsgate film will be released in theaters on March 15th.

Wahlberg portrays Michael Light, who is based on the former adventure racer Mikael Lindnord. The film is adapted from Lindnord’s non-fiction book, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home, which covers how the athlete offered meatballs to Arthur and the bond that formed during their adventure.

“Arthur is also inspiring a lot of other Arthurs,” Mikael Lindnord tells Nerd Reactor. “I think that’s the core of the movie. With that said, Mark Wahlberg was fantastic, and to be portrayed by him is a huge honor. I told him before that I think you’re good for the Oscars.”

Director Simon Cellan Jones has worked with Wahlberg before on Family Plan, and it’s a working relationship that is continuing with Arthur the King.

“Mark is very, very easy to work with,” said Jones. “When I first started, I was going, ‘Oh my god, it’s this huge movie star. They are so eccentric, they’re so demanding, they’re so difficult.’ And he’s super straightforward. He’s very empowering. He’s very collaborative. He likes to be professional. I would certainly try to do my homework each day before I go to work. But, there’s a shorthand there. He doesn’t mess about. He cuts to the emotional core of it. He cuts to the physical core of it. And he just gets that quickly.”

The film and the story speak to how dogs are very keen, and how the spirit of humans and dogs is strong when they have to overcome obstacles and challenges.

“I think dogs and humans are tougher than we think,” Lindnord said. “You can’t measure distance like this. Because in the normal world, like 10 miles, 100 miles, 200 miles is a long way. But as an adventure racer, you kind of are used to doing that. And so you don’t really think that way when you have a dog with you, because they also are used to long distances.”

“I work very closely with Mikael, and we wanted the aspects of the race to be very similar to how they are both sort of emotionally and physically,” Jones explained. “We got Bear Grylls in late in the day to be our sort of onscreen commentator, which was a fantastic addition. I mean, he kind of sums up this endurance stuff. I did research but I had the ultimate research assistant with me, which was Mikael.”

About Arthur the King

The film is directed by Simon Cellan Jones and written by Michael Brandt. It’s based on the book Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord. It’s produced by Tucker Tooley, Mark Canton, Courtney Solomon, Tessa Tooley, Mark Wahlberg, and Stephen Levinson.

It stars Mark Wahlberg, Simu Liu, Juliet Rylance, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ali Suliman, with Bear Grylls as Himself, and Paul Guilfoyle.

Synopsis: Over the course of ten days and 435 miles, an unbreakable bond is forged between pro adventure racer Michael Light (Mark Wahlberg) and a scrappy street dog companion dubbed Arthur. Based on an incredible true story, ARTHUR THE KING follows Light, desperate for one last chance to win, as he convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes (Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Ali Suliman) for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team is pushed to their outer limits of endurance in the race, Arthur redefines what victory, loyalty and friendship truly mean.

Lionsgate presents, in association with eOne, a Tucker Tooley Entertainment / Mark Canton / Municipal Pictures production.

Featured image credit: Carlos Rodriguez / Lionsgate

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.