These days Mark Wahlberg, 38, is known as one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, appearing in films such as The Italian Job, The Perfect Storm, Three Kings, and The Departed, for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2008. His acting career kicked off after making his big screen debut in 1994 with Renaissance Man.
From there he starred in and received critical acclaim for The Basketball Diaries (1995) with Leonardo DiCaprio. But the film that really cemented him as a certified actor was Boogie Nights (1997), when he played young porn star Dirk Digler, alongside Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore. The film picked up rave reviews and Mark’s performance was praised as standout.
In recent years Mark has added successful producer to his list of credits, for his work as executive producer on the Emmy and BAFTA award-winning HBO TV series Entourage (2004-present).
Mark is married to model Rhea Durham. The couple have four young children (sons Michael, 3 and Brendan, 1) and daughters (Ella Rae, 7 and Grace, born January 2010) .
Mark Wahlberg has the kind of background that many would have determined that he wouldn’t have amounted to much. He grew up in the Dorchester, a tough area of Boston, Massachusetts, in a big Catholic family with eight other siblings. The family were quite poor and father Donald Snr and mother Alma divorced when Mark was about 11.
As a 15 year old he was already running the streets, bunking school, joy-riding and getting high on drugs.Needless to say he had several run-ins with the law. Then after being arrested for attacking and permanently blinding a man while high, he was sentenced to two years in prison. This was his first real stint in jail and even though he was still a minor he was tried as an adult for attempted murder. He was released after 45 days.
His time locked up was enough to make Mark realise he had to change his life for the better. Ironically his early teens years could have taken an entirely different path if he had made some different decisions, like sticking it out in the local music group he had auditioned for as a 13-year-old. He had tried out with his older brother Donnie, but while Donnie reveled in the opportunity, Mark decided it wasn’t for him and left. The group happened to be 80s/90s boyband New Kids On The Block, who went on to be a huge global success.
However, back then Donnie had promised his brother that he would one day help him to do the kind of music he wanted to do if he ever got the chance. A few years after Mark’s release from prison Donnie did get the chance, and produced Mark and his group the Funky Bunch’s debut album Music For The People.
The album scored a number one hit Good Vibrations and went platinum. I was one of those million who bought the record, I’m not ashamed to admit and still bump it to this day! yup!
Music for the People turned 21-year-old Mark into a household name, and famed fashion designer Calvin Klein decided to take advantage of this popularity. He signed Mark up to be the face of his men’s underwear line, after seeing him drop his trousers as part of his stage show. One of the infamous ads (below) featured Kate Moss and Marky topless.
Mark’s second album You Gotta Believe, (another a classic in the Adenitire household) also produced by his brother Donnie, was a lot grittier than his previous offering, and was not as well received by his mostly pop audience. After the first single (the title track), not much more was put out. Mark then released a couple more albums, this time without the Funky Bunch, and instead hooking up with ragga singer Prince Ital Joe.
I was a bit sad when that happened mainly coz I really fancied Funky Bunch member Scotty Gee, aka Scott Ross, and I could no longer see him dancing alongside Mark. True story, I once got a picture taken with Scotty Gee and cut it out and put it inside the sleeve of my bus pass cover. I told my friend, who was obviously not into them, that he was my boyfriend who lived in America, and she believed me – even though I was about 14 at the time and he looked 21!
With the music seemingly petering out, Mark’s next career move was going to set him on his most successful journey yet. After doing a made for TV movie, he was tapped to star in the comedy Renaissance Man with Danny Devito. He was reluctant at first as he hadn’t had much acting experience, but he was encouraged by director Penny Marshall (of Lavenre and Shirley fame) and actually did a good job.
It helped that the character he played was similar to himself in many ways, cocky, rough around the edges; basically a good kid prone to getting into trouble. The role gave him the acting bug. And the rest… is at the top of this post!
DID YA KNOW?
- Mark was originally offered the one of the lead roles in Brokeback Mountain (Joaquin Phoenix was originally offered the other lead) but chose not to take it, after reportedly being uncomfortable with the films sex scene.
- Mark dropped out of school at the age of 14, but did his GED (General Education Development and UK equivalent of his GCSEs) as an adult.