"Marky Mark" redirects here. For the Brazilian musician, see DJ Marky.
For the American television host, see Mark L. Walberg.
Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg (born June 5, 1971) is an American actor, producer, and former model and rapper. He was known as Marky Mark in his earlier years, becoming famous for his 1991 debut as frontman with the band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Wahlberg later transitioned to acting, appearing in films such as the drama Boogie Nights and the satirical war-comedy Three Kings during the 1990s. In the 2000s, he starred in the biographical disaster drama The Perfect Storm, the science fiction film Planet of the Apes, and the Martin Scorsese-directed crime drama The Departed, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In the 2010s, he starred in the action-comedy The Other Guys alongside Will Ferrell, the biographical sports drama The Fighter, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination, the comedy Ted, the war film Lone Survivor, and the sci-fi action film Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Wahlberg has also served as executive producer of three HBO series: the comedy-drama Entourage (2004-11), the period crime drama Boardwalk Empire (2009-14), and the comedy-drama How to Make It in America (2010-11). He will also executively produce a fourth show for HBO, the comedy-drama Ballers starring Dwayne Johnson, set to premiere in June 2015.
Wahlberg was born in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest of nine children, with siblings Arthur, Jim, Paul, Robert, Tracey, Michelle, Debbie (died in 2003 at age 43), and Donnie. Wahlberg's mother, Alma Elaine (née Donnelly), was a bank clerk and nurse's aide, and Wahlberg's father, Donald Edward Wahlberg, was a Teamster who worked as a delivery driver. His parents divorced in 1982 and from that moment he divided his time between them. His father was of Swedish and Irish descent, and his mother is of Irish, English, and French Canadian descent. Maternally, Wahlberg is distantly related to author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Wahlberg had a Roman Catholic upbringing and attended Copley Square High School (but never graduated) on Newbury Street in Boston. He received his high school diploma in June 2013.
Wahlberg had been in trouble 20-25 times with the Boston Police Department in his youth. By age 13, Wahlberg had developed an addiction to cocaine and other substances. At 15, civil action was filed against Wahlberg for his involvement in two separate incidents of harassing African-American children (the first were siblings, and the second incident was a group of black school children on a field trip), by throwing rocks and shouting racial epithets. At 16, Wahlberg approached a middle-aged Vietnamese man named Thanh Lam on the street and, using a large wooden stick, knocked him unconscious while calling him "VIETNAM FUCKING SHIT". That same day Wahlberg also attacked a second Vietnamese man named Hoa "Johnny" Trinh, punching him in the face. He believed he had left his victim permanently blind in one eye. Trinh was interviewed in December 2014 by the Daily Mail, who revealed that he had already lost his eye during the Vietnam War, was not severely injured by Wahlberg, and did not know the identity of his assailant prior to being contacted by the media. According to court documents regarding these crimes, when Wahlberg was arrested later that night and returned to the scene of the first assault, he stated to police officers: "You don't have to let him identify me, I'll tell you now that's the motherfucker who's (sic) head I split open." Investigators also noted that Wahlberg "made numerous unsolicited racial statements about 'gooks' and 'slant-eyed gooks'."
For these crimes, Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder, pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to two years in Suffolk County Deer Island House of Correction. He ultimately served only 45 days of his sentence. In another incident, the 21-year-old Wahlberg fractured the jaw of a neighbor in an unprovoked attack. Commenting in 2006 on his past crimes, Wahlberg has stated: "I did a lot of things that I regret, and I have certainly paid for my mistakes." He said the right thing to do would be to try to find the blinded man and make amends, and admitted he has not done so, but added that he was no longer burdened by guilt: "You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn't until I really started doing good and doing right by other people, as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don't have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning."
After going to prison for assault, he decided to improve his behavior. According to Wahlberg, "As soon as I began that life of crime, there was always a voice in my head telling me I was going to end up in jail. Three of my brothers had done time. My sister went to prison so many times I lost count. Finally I was there, locked up with the kind of guys I'd always wanted to be like. Now I'd earned my stripes and I was just like them, and I realized it wasn't what I wanted at all. I'd ended up in the worst place I could possibly imagine and I never wanted to go back. First of all, I had to learn to stay on the straight and narrow." Wahlberg first relied on the guidance of his parish priest to turn his back on crime. He told his street gang that he was leaving them and had "some serious fights" with them over it. The actor commented in 2009: "I've made a lot of mistakes in my life and I've done bad things, but I never blamed my upbringing for that. I never behaved like a victim so that I would have a convenient reason for victimizing others. Everything I did wrong was my own fault. I was taught the difference between right and wrong at an early age. I take full responsibility."
On 26 November 2014, Wahlberg filed an application in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requesting a full and unconditional pardon from his prior convictions. His pardon application has engendered some controversy. According to the BBC, the debate about his suitability for a pardon is still ongoing with the arguments on both sides being far reaching and complex. There is also an ongoing petition to the Massachusetts governor to deny Wahlberg's pardon. One of Wahlberg's victims, Trinh, has pledged to make a written statement supporting a pardon.
Wahlberg first came to fame as the younger brother of Donnie Wahlberg of the successful boy band New Kids on the Block. Mark, at age thirteen, was one of the group's original members, along with Donnie, Danny Wood, Jordan Knight, and Jonathan Knight. However, he soon quit after staying three months in the group. It was his departure that eventually allowed Joe McIntyre to take his place as the fifth member of the group.
In 1990, Wahlberg began recording with dancers/rappers Scott Ross (aka Scottie Gee), Hector Barros (Hector the Booty Inspector), Anthony Thomas (Ashley Ace), and Terry Yancey (DJ-T) as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, earning a hit with "Good Vibrations" from their debut album Music for the People. The record, produced by brother Donnie, hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100, later becoming certified as a platinum single. The second single, "Wildside", peaked at No. 5 on Billboards Hot Singles Sales chart and at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was certified as a gold single. Marky Mark opened for the New Kids on the Block during their last tour. Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch also had their own video game, titled Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Make My Video, which despite the band's success was a huge flop. The second Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch LP, You Gotta Believe, was not as successful as the prior, yielding only a minor hit single in the title track.
Wahlberg later collaborated with the late reggae/ragga singer Prince Ital Joe on the album Life in the Streets. The project combined rap and reggae vocals with strong eurodance music (as in the singles Happy People, German No. 1 hit United, Life in the Streets, and Babylon) courtesy of Frank Peterson and Alex Christensen as producers.
In 1995, he released a single titled No Mercy in support for his friend Dariusz Michalczewski whom he had befriended in earlier 1990s. Dariusz also appears in the music video of the song. Wahlberg and Ital Joe released another album in 1995 for Ultraphonic Records. It was titled The Remix Album and was a remix album featuring remixed from the duo's previous album, Life in the Streets, as well as the Mark's solo track, "No Mercy". In 1996, Wahlberg released a solo single titled Hey DJ. This was followed by the release of another solo song titled Feel the Vibe in 1997. Another solo track titled Best of my Love was released the same year. All the solo tracks along with another song titled Here With Me were released on an album titled All Around the World in 1997 that also included the remixed versions of the songs.
In 2000, he was also featured in the Black Label Society music video for "Counterfeit God", as a stand-in for the band's bassist.
Wahlberg first displayed his physique in the "Good Vibrations" music video and most prominently in a series of underwear ads for Calvin Klein (1992) shot by Herb Ritts, following it with Calvin Klein television advertisements. Magazine and television promotions would sometimes feature Mark exclusively or accompanied by model Kate Moss. Annie Leibovitz also shot a famous session of Mark Wahlberg in underwear for Vanity Fair's annual Hall of Fame issue. He also made a workout video titled The Marky Mark Workout: Form... Focus... Fitness (ISBN 1-55510-910-1).
In 2012, he launched a line of sports nutrition supplements called "Marked".
Further information: Mark Wahlberg filmography
In 1993, Wahlberg made his acting debut in the TV film The Substitute. After this appearance he dropped the "Marky Mark" name. His big screen début came the next year, with the Danny DeVito feature Renaissance Man. A basketball fanatic, he caught the attention of critics after appearing in The Basketball Diaries in 1995, playing the role of Mickey alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, in a film adaptation of the Jim Carroll book of the same name. He also starred in the 1996 James Foley thriller Fear.
He has earned many positive reviews after successful movies like Boogie Nights (as Dirk Diggler), Three Kings, The Perfect Storm, The Italian Job, and Four Brothers. His performance in I ♥ Huckabees was voted best supporting performance of the year in the 2004 Village Voice Critics Poll. Wahlberg was originally cast as Linus Caldwell in Ocean's Eleven; Matt Damon played the role instead. The two later worked together in The Departed. Wahlberg was also considered for a role in the film Brokeback Mountain. It was originally intended to star Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix (with whom he appeared in the 2000 film The Yards) as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, respectively, but both actors were uncomfortable with the film's sex scenes. The roles ultimately went to Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, both of whom were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances.
Wahlberg starred in the American football drama Invincible, based on the true story of bartender Vince Papale. He was also the executive producer of the HBO series Entourage (2004-2011), which was loosely based on his experiences in Hollywood. In 2006, he appeared as a foul-mouthed Massachusetts State Police detective in Martin Scorsese's critically acclaimed thriller, The Departed, which netted him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, and an NSFC Best Supporting Actor award. Wahlberg has confirmed that he was approached to star in a sequel to The Departed, but it is still early in development. The sequel would reportedly revolve around the Staff Sergeant played by Wahlberg.
To prepare for his role in Shooter, Wahlberg attended long-range shooting training at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute near Pahrump, Nevada, and was able to hit a target at 1100 yards on his second day, a feat which usually takes weeks to achieve. He had said in a number of interviews that he would retire at the age of 40 to concentrate on parenthood and professional golf. However, in early 2007 he indicated that the latter was no longer the plan as "his golf game is horrible". He played Jack Salmon, a leading role in Peter Jackson's film of The Lovely Bones. In 2007, he starred opposite Joaquin Phoenix in We Own the Night, a movie about a family of police officers in New York City.
He starred in M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening as Eliot Moore, which premiered in movie theatres on June 13, 2008. The same year, he played the title role in Max Payne, based on a video game of the same name. While promoting Max Payne, Mark became involved in a playful feud with The Lonely Island's Andy Samberg and threatened to "crack that big fucking nose of his". Samberg had done an impression of Wahlberg in a Saturday Night Live sketch titled "Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals". Wahlberg later appeared in a follow-up sketch parodying the original one, Samberg's impression of Wahlberg, and his own threats to Samberg.
In a February 2007 interview with Empire, updated in 2010, Mark Wahlberg stated that there might be a sequel to The Departed focusing on his character, Dignam, with Robert De Niro potentially playing a corrupt senator. He also stated that William Monahan was writing the script. The film is said to be on hold, because producer Brad Grey is now the head of Paramount Pictures and the film is a Warner Bros. project. In June 2010, Wahlberg and Monahan continued to express interest in a sequel, then said to be projected for 2012. Nothing further has been announced.
Wahlberg later starred as Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell in the war film Lone Survivor (2013), based on Luttrell's 2007 book of the same name. The film received strong commercial success and mostly positive reviews, and Wahlberg's performance was highly praised. In 2014, Wahlberg starred in the remake of The Gambler, the 1974 James Caan film that was loosely inspired by the Dostoyevsky novella.
In July 2013, Wahlberg became an equity interest of the Barbados Tridents cricket franchise. As a team within the Limacol Caribbean Premier League, Wahlberg became involved through colleague and personal connection Ajmal Khan, the founder of Limacol CPL. Following the announcement Wahlberg stated: "I am a huge cricket fan now," he said. "I'm excited to be a part of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League because I know cricket is huge in the Caribbean and a rich part of the region's heritage," Wahlberg said in a statement. "Sports and entertainment are a powerful combination, and the LCPL will appeal to a huge audience worldwide."
In 2014, Wahlberg was the producer of the reality show Breaking Boston, which was pulled off the air after its premiere had 311,000 viewers.
In the early 1990s, Wahlberg dated former child actress Soleil Moon Frye. Wahlberg has been in a relationship with model Rhea Durham since 2001 and they were married on August 1, 2009 at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills. The couple have four children. In a 2011 interview with USA Weekend, Wahlberg stated that he had taken his children to visit his old Dorchester neighborhood: "I want them to know that not everyone is as fortunate and how important it is to work hard and give back."
Wahlberg's father, a US Army veteran of the Korean War, died on February 14, 2008.
Wahlberg is a committed Roman Catholic and attends church daily. His wife converted from Baptist to Catholic. While he is impressed with Pope Francis, he has said he does not agree with the church's view on gay marriage, which Wahlberg supports.
Actively involved in charity, Wahlberg established the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation in May 2001 for the purpose of raising and distributing funds to youth service and enrichment programs. Wahlberg is active with The Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children. Wahlberg served on the Honorary Board of Jerry Sandusky's The Second Mile children's charity before Sandusky's 2011 arrest on child sex abuse charges.
In 2012, Wahlberg was quoted in a magazine interview regarding what would have happened if he had flown aboard American Airlines Flight 11 on September 11, 2001. He had been booked on Flight 11, but his plans changed the day before the scheduled flight and he cancelled his reservation. Wahlberg received public criticism for stating "If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn't have went down like it did", and "There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, 'OK, we're going to land somewhere safely, don't worry'". Wahlberg issued a public apology after family members of those killed on the flight expressed outrage for his statements.
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