“Joe Bell” depicts the real-life story of a bullied teen who took his own life. His father set out on a journey to keep it from happening to anyone else. Mark Wahlberg plays the title character, a grieving man doing his best to commemorate his lost son, Jadin Bell. For Wahlberg, however, the role was personal.
As a father to teenagers himself, the actor approached the true story with immense sensitivity. His parental experience gave him a perspective that helped him get into the mind of Joe Bell. In 2013, Joe set out to walk across the country on foot, from Oregon to New York. He planned a two-year trek. But in reality, he only walked for six months before he was struck and killed by a truck driver.
“Bullying and cruelty for any reason is wrong. We made this movie for the Joe Bells of the world. My hope is that you leave the theaters with more understanding and support for those around you: your child, your coworker, your community member,” Wahlberg wrote in the caption of the Instagram post.
Mark Wahlberg Tries To Depict The Character As He Really Was
According to Wahlberg, the movie’s handling of Joe and Jadin is as honest as possible. Like most humans, Joe was complicated. He supported his son’s sexual orientation. But he didn’t really know how to be a father to him all the time.
“He was a tough individual who had a very difficult and abusive childhood. And he was doing the best that he could with what little skills and experience he had as a dad. And dealing with a situation like this was just something that he was not prepared for,” Wahlberg told Fox News.
Surviving Joe and Jadin, however, are Joe’s wife Lola and his other son Joseph. The fact that the two members of the family are around to witness the telling of their loved ones’ story meant Mark Wahlberg, the rest of the cast, and director Reinaldo Marcus Green had to handle the story with extreme care.
Through an accurate depiction of what Joe and Jadin really went through, however, the movie hopes to raise awareness of bullying and increase tolerance. Though, Mark Wahlberg mentioned that he specifically wants to reach parents who are unaware of how their children are feeling.
Whether or not they completely understand it, Wahlberg sees it as crucial for parents to listen to what their kids are going through. Sometimes, being heard is enough.