Here is an interview Mark did with The Guardian (UK).
Mark Wahlberg: family man, business man, renaissance man
Mark Wahlberg has just got off a plane from Australia – and he does not want to do this interview. It shows in his limp handshake, his lack of eye contact, and in the way he punctuates our time with either a monosyllabic answer, or a comically protracted yawn.
All of which is fine – he's a jetlagged father of four, after all – if a little tedious. But then, Wahlberg must be used to tedious. Nearly every interview he's done since his remarkably sensitive breakout role in 1997's Boogie Nights has started with his shady past, and ended with a touching portrait of the young man as father. So the Guardian asks him straight: is there anything he's sick of speaking about?
"I'll let my interpreter answer that," he says dismissively, sinking into an armchair, leaning back and closing his eyes. His "interpreter" is Howard, an affable long-time friend with a severe speech impediment whom he's known since the early 90s. He's an odd choice of entourage; a cynic might suggest he's there for Wahlberg to genially employ as an occasional human shield against conversational topics he'd rather not delve into.
But quite why Wahlberg – named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2011 – should need any such protection is confusing. He's made it clear since his cocky, Entourage-style days as rapper Marky "brother of New Kid Donnie" Mark, that he doesn't much care what anyone thinks. And to be fair, why would he? Here's a man who beat the odds on a past filled with violent crime, jail time, drug-dealing and street hustling followed by redemption to become an A-list actor and heavyweight Hollywood TV producer. Frankly, I'd be taking a nap too.
Over the next 45 minutes, Wahlberg snaps out of his torpor only when the subject matter piques his interest. I ask about his children, and instantly, he's a different man; animated, alert and brimming with adoration.
"Look at this guy," he says, showing me his son Brendan. "He wants me to sleep in his little race-car bed, and he keeps watching to make sure I don't leave till he falls asleep."
Mark Wahlberg, family man – it's clear this is the role that comes easiest to him, and that the press obligations surrounding his work are nothing but distractions. A few weeks ago, a comment he made about 9/11 in a interview with Men's Journal ("If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn't have went down like it did") placed him in the line of media fire from hair-trigger patriots and the general outraged masses.
"I just don't understand that reaction," he says wearily. "Do I regret it? Yes. But it was clearly taken out of context. The journalist was asking a bunch of inappropriate questions about sex interspersed with more serious questions, and I was trying to articulate how far I would go to protect my family. It was just … nonsense."
Does he care what people think? "Not much at all. After the age of 40, who gives a shit? I want people to come see my films and enjoy them but at the end of the day you can't control what people think. You can only apologise, which I did. Listen – there's a lot of things I wish I hadn't said. This is not my favourite part of the job, as I think you probably can tell," he adds, with the wryest of smiles.
Playing it safe doesn't appear to be on his list when it comes to opening his mouth – he later makes a joke about being on cocaine, then tells me rather seriously, "You know I was kidding, right?" – but it's something of a disappointment that since his multi-layered, hugely charismatic portrayal of genitally blessed porn star Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights, he's been widely more cautious with his roles – a big bag of heavily muscled cops, reformed bad boys, security guards and boxers. Which is not to say that some of them don't run a little deeper, like his deservedly Oscar-nominated turn as a foul-mouthed cop in The Departed or his extraordinary Micky Ward in The Fighter. But by and large, does he play it safe?
"I can always see something of myself in the characters I play. Sure, I enjoy playing just a straightforward guys' guy. I think that's what people expect and that's what people enjoy seeing me do," he says, neither irritated nor particularly interested in the comparison. "Why not? I have a lot of real-life experience with both cops and villains, so I channel that. I did The Departed, all the other guys were like, 'Let's go do some research', and I was like, 'For what?' Eighteen years of dealing with cops. I know how to act like one."
What film stars did he idolise when he was growing up? Here, Wahlberg doesn't hesitate.
"James Cagney, Steve McQueen, I loved all those guys. I grew up loving the movies but had no desire to be in them. I didn't think it was possible considering where I came from. I used to go to the movies with my dad. We saw Hard Times with Charles Bronson when I was seven and I remember thinking, 'Cool.' But I wasn't thinking, 'I wanna be a movie star'; I was thinking, 'I wanna be a bare-knuckle fighter like the guys in the movies.'"
The alpha-male fetish resolved, it's his emerging role as a credible producer of such hugely successful shows as Boardwalk Empire, In Treatment and latest movie Contraband that's genuinely intriguing. His first venture was 2004's Entourage, an enjoyably shallow comedy-drama about life in the fast lane for a young Hollywood actor and his friends. It was based loosely around Wahlberg's early days in Hollywood. "I don't want to give any details of my experiences. Take creative liberties, make something up," he says; he's far more interested in what the show has achieved for its stars than its over-analysed genesis.
"What I love about Entourage though, and what I love about producing in general is how it gives me the ability to put others in a position to do great work. Look at Jeremy Piven: he never had a place to showcase his abilities, till Entourage came along. He always had it in him, but he just needed that vehicle and I was able to provide it. It's a great thing to do."
His latest film, Contraband, is a perfectly enjoyable, if predictable, action thriller, adapted from the 2008 Icelandic film Reykjavík-Rotterdam. Wahlberg flexes familiarly as Chris, a reformed smuggler on one last job to protect his family; once again, hardly a stretch. What's striking about the film are its high-calibre stunts and effects, achieved on an impressively tight budget.
"A film like this would usually cost about $60m," Wahlberg says, with a notable glimmer of pride "But we had a great cast and crew, and we filmed it very much like an independent film, shot the whole thing in 40 days, for $25m. We did a lot of the stunt stuff ourselves. I don't mention that in an 'aren't we cool' way, I just liked that we did it because it saved money." I'm beginning see what it is about film that Wahlberg's truly passionate about. He's a good actor but he's a great businessman.
"I have a lot of other businesses outside film: property, wellbeing, and construction," he agrees. "Producing suits me because I have a business mind and a business sensibility. I was a street hustler. I did whatever it took. I sold whatever I could sell. I'm a good organiser."
As a man who revels in creative control, and has worked with everyone from Martin Scorsese to Tim Burton to Peter Jackson, he wants to direct, of course. "What would you like to direct?" I ask, and suddenly, he clams up. "Films," he says moodily, as though I'm asking if he's tidied his room; I'm half expecting him to add "Duh!" I roll my eyes, and he concedes this round of the game with a smile: "I enjoy all kinds of films, except musicals. When I find that particular story that I want to tell, I'll let everyone know."
Perhaps a move into comedy is next? For the first time, he's less surefooted in his approach.
"I wasn't exactly uncomfortable when I did my first comedy," he says thoughtfully. "I was just very aware of the risks; if you do a comedy that sucks and you suck in it then you won't get a chance to do it again." With typical savvy, he placed himself in the safe hands of Will Ferrell in The Other Guys, and Steve Carrell in Date Night, a film in which he maintained a state of shirtlessness at all times. A self-deprecating pastiche of his modelling days, I ask? And fair's fair: now it's his turn to roll his eyes. "What do you think?"
He's palpably excited about his upcoming film, Ted, directed by Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane, a project which sees him move beautifully from alpha to beta male, playing a grown man whose best friend is a malevolent talking teddy. I love the image but it's a struggle to see how it's something he's able to relate to from personal experience.
"I said I can always see something of myself in the characters I play, and you assume that means I can only play big tough guys," he says. "But look, here's this bullied little kid, a guy who has no friends and gets beat up a lot, and he makes his bear his best friend. It's a buddy movie. It's a childhood friendship that changes, and the character is this guy who grows into the man he needs to be for the people in his life. I was the youngest of nine kids. There's always something I can relate to. I don't always need to be beating someone up!"
"So you're definitely not a method actor?" I ask teasingly. At this, Wahlberg hoots with laughter.
"Let me tell you something," he says. "I was in a rehearsal for a movie that never got made with a very famous actor and director. And they decided to do this acting exercise. 'Think of water. Think of the colour blue. Think of a place that you used to go hide when you were a kid when you wanted to be alone.' I thought, 'This is a practical joke!' So I opened my eyes, and they were all just sobbing their hearts out! I was kind of in shock. And that's when I thought, 'OK, I guess I'm pretty lucky I have a lot of real-life experiences to draw my sad emotions from so I didn't have to think about where I wanted to 'be alone as a boy'. Give me a break."
He uses his best "insufferable ac-tor" voice for emphasis. And I realise that Ted is probably going to be very, very good; perhaps the dark and meaty role Dirk Diggler fans have been waiting for. Because even when he's jetlagged, spouting ill-advised platitudes, or being just plain stubborn, Mark Wahlberg's actually kind of funny.