Mark Webber is a celebrated actor with over 40 films under his belt, and his directorial work has been shown at Sundance Film Festival, LA Film Festival, and Tribeca Film Festival, to name a few. Chrono24 was fortunate enough to have Mark star in their “Father Time” campaign. Chrono24 editor Thomas Hendricks sat down with Mark to talk about his career, what it was like to work with Jessica Alba, and to find out more about his passion for watches.
[The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.]
Thomas Hendricks: I know you just got off the plane. Where did you come from?
Mark Webber: I did. I’m coming from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’m making my sixth feature film that I’ve written, directed, and am starring in.
Thank you! It’s been really challenging, you know. I have a very small crew. I work with limited resources, but it’s super fulfilling. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I like to keep the plot and things under wraps until it premieres.
OK, OK. Well, I know that’s not the only project you have in the works. There’s one hitting Netflix pretty soon starring a childhood crush of mine, Jessica Alba – a very talented actor as well. What can you tell us about that?
That’s called Trigger Warning, and it’s coming out on Netflix probably sometime early next year, I’d say. It was really cool. It’s an action movie. I think it’s my first – yeah – it’s my first action movie that I was in. I play a dirty cop.
What was really cool about it is that the film was directed by a woman, the producers were all women, the stunt team and stunt coordinators were all women, the [Director of Photography] was a woman. Going into what typically used to be an all-male, kind of bro environment to make an action film, it was really cool doing it this way. I had a blast, and Jessica’s amazing. She kicks serious ass in this movie, and I think people are going to really dig it.
I want to play a quick game with you. Tell me about some of the characters from the film, and I’ll see if I can maybe suggest some watches that they might wear. So, you play a crooked sheriff, right?
Yeah, he’s a corrupt sheriff in a small town.
OK, and what time period are we talking?
OK, so he probably needs something a little rugged with blue-collar roots, but a little jazzed up. Maybe a two-tone Rolex Submariner or something like that. You get the military angle, but with some gold thrown in there as well, and an extra ten thousand dollars over retail.
Yeah, I like that.
Who else can we do?
Let’s see. This might be a challenging one. What about the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World I was in? I play the singer Steven Stills (named after the real Steven Stills). I’m the lead singer of this grungy punk rock band that’s not that great, but they’re trying really hard. It’s contemporary-ish, 90s, but kind of bounces around different time periods.
What age is he?
- I would say he has money to spend on things that aren’t watches, like band gear, for example, or going out.
That’s why it’s challenging – not a lot of money, probably not very much at all.
OK, so I would go for something like a Seiko diver or probably a G-SHOCK.
I think it would probably be a G-SHOCK, yeah.
Great watches. I have one; I think everyone has one.
I used to love my G-SHOCK.
Yeah, you can pour a beer on it, and it’ll be just fine. Totally fine. Bang it up in a guitar case, and we’re all good.
You actually did a film about your own upbringing, a semi-autobiographical film. I know you have a pretty modest background, not a particularly luxurious one. So, I want to know, were watches present when you were growing up, and how has your taste or perspective changed as you’ve gotten older and traveled more?
They were around. I remember being younger and seeing what I thought were cool watches on a few key figures in my life. I thought they looked cool, important, and shiny. I kind of fell in love with watches when I was little.
I had my Casio calculator watch, and G-SHOCK was a very big deal when they first came out. But the idea of owning a Rolex or something like that from where I came from was a really big deal – and it is still. For a bit of background, I’m a Midwestern guy. I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but then I moved to Philadelphia when I was 10. It was interesting to go from the Midwest to east coast life – a total culture shock. I learned a lot really fast when I first moved to Philly. Everyone called me a farm boy. I didn’t know I had a Midwestern accent until I was there, so it was an interesting transition.
I’m sure they meant it lovingly.
Haha! No, far from it, far from it.
You direct a lot of films now, and I know that time is a major narrative that a lot of directors use. Looking back over your work, both films where you’ve been in front of the camera and behind, how has time worked its way into those stories and affected the trajectory of what’s going on?
It’s interesting when you make feature films, right? It’s almost like you have this set amount of time already. You have around 90 minutes. Anything over two hours risks feeling slow or indulgent, and so I try to hit the 90-minute mark. It’s interesting when you have that kind of that framework laid out for you. You’re like, “OK. I need to tell this story in 90 minutes.”
Of course, you look at things in a three-act structure, but that also boils down to time. Within the first 15 minutes of your movie, you effectively need to convey enough information, and then in the second act, things have to take a turn, and then how do you resolve it in the third act? But you can also break that rule wide open.
I want to talk a little bit about the “Father Time” campaign that you starred in. We put you through a lot of different scenarios and a lot of different time periods. You were in a casino, you were on a boat. I wasn’t lucky enough to be on set for any of it, so I just wanted to know about your experience and what your takeaways were.
It was so fun. We really approached the campaign and shoot like we were making a film. I had extensive meetings and talks with Adam, our director, about this character and what we were trying to do. I took it very seriously. It was really important for me to nail this. I thought it was such a cool idea to put out a character representing a brand that has such a big following and that people come to in this very specific way. Playing a character who can go into any time period, literally, that was really cool. It was so much fun to make.
As someone with a very busy schedule, when you’re flying across the country at the crack of dawn, how do you find those little moments to just stop and reflect?
I have to remind myself sometimes. I can get – I think we all can – we can start worrying about the future, that can cause anxiety or anxiousness. If you’re too obsessed about what’s going to happen, it pulls you out of the present moment, and the present moment is where you find real joy. It’s where I feel the most alive, and if I’m thinking about the past too much, that can bring some sadness, some depression, right? If you’re stuck in the past and thinking, “Oh, I would have, could have, should have done this, that, and the other,” it can bring you down. So, I like to try to stay as present as possible.
Interestingly enough, when I have a timepiece on my wrist, it can serve as a little reminder every now and then. When I’m wearing a watch, I check in. I look down, and I’m like, “Oh yeah, take a breath, be here. Where are we? What are we doing?” I’ll catch myself in this train of thought thinking about the nine million things I need to do tomorrow, and it’s a little reminder [to stay present].
My last question for you, Mark: We talk a lot in the watch world about having timepieces that can outlast you and things that you could pass on. Are there any things in your life – watches or otherwise – that you think, “I know I want to have this around to pass on to my kids later on”?
I don’t have a particular thing or item. All we have are moments together. I think for me, for my kids, what I would want to pass on is the things that I’m talking about right now. I would love it if my children could learn to stay as present as possible. I really truly feel like that’s where we find the most joy in life. And if my kids can pass on compassion and openness and kindness and love, that’s what matters to me most.