Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg in Contraband

Mark Wahlberg in “Contraband”

Little did rapper Marky Mark know that one day he would be considered a well-respected, Oscar-nominated actor working for such elite directors as Martin Scorsese. Indeed, the performer of “Good Vibrations” would ultimately become a reliable leading man and successful executive producer, but as a kid growing up in Boston, all Mark Wahlberg was concerned about was being the tough guy in the neighborhood – and dealing with the Boston PD.

As his older brother Donnie found fame with New Kids on the Block, Mark formed Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch in the early 90s. He made a couple of appearances on screen, including “A Basketball Diaries” with Leonardo DiCaprio, and it was Leo who then recommended Mark to director Paul Thomas Anderson for the role of Dirk Diggler in “Boogie Nights.” Surrounded by an all-star cast, Mark delivered a tour-de-force performance, effectively shedding his musical past. He is one of the “Three Kings” in David O. Russell’s Gulf War film alongside George Clooney and Ice Cube. Teaming with Clooney again on “The Perfect Storm,” Mark took the leads in the 2001 films “Planet of the Apes” and “Rock Star,” displaying Mark’s ability for action blockbusters as well as character driven pieces. The actor easily bounced back and forth between these kinds of movies, showing his range in “I Heart Huckabees” to the action picture “Four Brothers” the next year. He seemed poise for another major breakthrough similar to “Boogie Nights.”

In 2006, Mark provided much depth to the real-life character Vince Papale in the Disney football movie “Invincible.” 2006 also marked the year of his first Oscar nomination. As Staff Sgt. Sean Dignam in Scorsese’s “The Departed,” Mark was on par with the major talents of Leo, Damon, Nicholson, Baldwin, and Martin Sheen. It is undoubtedly not the last Oscar nod he will get. He only seems to be getting better, and when not tearing up the screen with his “less is more” approach, Mark has also found time to executive produce one of the most successful shows in HBO history: “Entourage.”

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Mark on the Screen

He started as Ryan Westerberg in the TV movie “The Substitute” in 1993, followed by the Danny DeVito comedy “Renaissance Man” in 1994, and plays Mickey in “The Basketball Diaries” the next year. He’s David McCall in “Fear,” Pat O’Hara in “Traveller,” and Dirk Diggler in “Boogie Nights.” He followed that star-making performance with action flicks like “The Big Hit” and “The Corruptor,” as well as alongside big names like Clooney, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron, and James Caan in “Three Kings” and “The Yards.” In 2001 he’s Captain Leo Davidson in Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” and Izzy Cole in “Rock Star,” and one year later he stars in the “Charade” remake “The Truth About Charlie.” in 2002. He’s Vincent Papale in “Invincible,” one of the survivors in “The Departed,” Bob Lee Swagger in “Shooter,” and Joaquin Phoenix’s brother in “We Own the Night.”

Boogie Nights” (1997)
This Paul Thomas Anderson film helped to propel Mark’s acting career with the high-profile role as Dirk Diggler, working with an all-star cast that included Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore and Heather Graham.

Mark Says

On athletes:
“Tiger Woods is the only sports star who’s worth every penny he makes.”

On George Clooney:
“Clooney is just a pretty boy, man, and that’s it, OK? I carried him on my back long enough. I’m on my own.”