Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg (born June 5, 1971) is an American actor, producer, businessman, and former model and rapper. He was known as Marky Mark in his earlier years, as frontman with the band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, releasing the albums Music for the People and You Gotta Believe. Wahlberg later transitioned to acting, appearing in films such as the drama Boogie Nights and the satirical war comedy-drama 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 neo-noir crime drama The Departed. In the 2010s, he starred in the action-comedy The Other Guys alongside Will Ferrell, the biographical sports drama The Fighter, the comedy Ted, the war film Lone Survivor, and the science-fiction action film Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Wahlberg has also served as executive producer of four HBO series: the comedy-drama Entourage (2004–11), the period crime drama Boardwalk Empire (2009–14), How to Make It in America, and Ballers. He is co-owner of the Wahlburgers chain and co-stars in the reality TV series about it.
Wahlberg was born in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest of nine children, including actor Robert and actor-singer Donnie. His mother, Alma Elaine (Donnelly), was a bank clerk and a nurse’s aide, and his father, Donald E. Wahlberg, Sr., was 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 ancestry. 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 first came to fame as the younger brother of Donnie Wahlberg of the successful boy band New Kids on the Block. Mark, at the age of 13, 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. His departure 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 (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 number one on the Billboard Hot 100, later becoming certified as a platinum single. The second single, “Wildside”, peaked at number five on Billboards Hot Singles Sales chart and at number 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 first, 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 vocals, electronic-infused ragga, and “European dancefloor” music, delivering the singles “Happy People”, German number one hit “United”, “Life in the Streets”, and “Babylon”, with Frank Peterson and Alex Christensen as producers.
In 1995, he released a single titled “No Mercy” in support of his friend Dariusz Michalczewski, whom he had befriended earlier in the 1990s. Dariusz also appears in the music video of the song. Wahlberg and Ital Joe released another album in 1995 for Ultraphonic Records. Titled The Remix Album, it featured remixes 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.
In 2012, he launched a line of sports nutrition supplements called Marked.
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 had his first starring role in the 1996 James Foley thriller Fear.
He has earned many positive reviews after successful movies such as Boogie Nights (as Dirk Diggler), Three Kings, The Perfect Storm, and Four Brothers. During the early 2000s, Wahlberg appeared in remakes of 1960s films such as Planet of the Apes, The Truth About Charlie (remake of Charade), and The Italian Job. 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 National Society of Film Critics 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 f#cking 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 2015 he starred opposite Will Ferrell in the comedy Daddy’s Home.
In July 2013, Wahlberg became an equity interest of the Barbados Tridents cricket franchise. A team within the Limacol Caribbean Premier League, Wahlberg became involved with them through colleague and personal connection Ajmal Khan, the founder of Limacol CPL. Following the announcement, Wahlberg stated, “I am a huge cricket fan now. 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. Sports and entertainment are a powerful combination, and the LCPL will appeal to a huge audience worldwide.”
He co-owns Wahlburgers with his brothers Donnie and Paul. It was Mark’s idea to expand Paul’s restaurant in Hingham, Massachusetts, into a full-fledged chain with a reality show to promote it. Rich Vanzura, formerly of Panera Bread, is the CEO.
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. He executive-produced one episode of Wahlburgers, while co-starring in it.
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.
Named one of “People” magazines 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. [May 1992]
His older siblings are: Arthur Wahlberg, James, Debbie, Michelle, Paul Wahlberg, Tracey, Robert Wahlberg and Donnie Wahlberg. Robert, Donnie and Mark are from their mother’s third marriage with Donald Wahlberg. Half-siblings from his dad’s side of the family are Scott Wahlberg, Buddy Wahlberg and Donna Wahlberg.
Was originally cast as Linus Caldwell in Ocean’s Eleven (2001) but dropped out.
His music group, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, debuted on The Arsenio Hall Show (1989) in the late 1980s.
He said in one of the featurettes in The Italian Job (2003) DVD that he thought about doing the movie because it was going to be his third remake in a row (if you don’t count Rock Star (2001)) after The Truth About Charlie (2002) and Planet of the Apes (2001).
Narrated the documentary Juvies (2004) along with The Italian Job (2003) co-star Yasiin Bey (Mos Def supplied poetry).
His older sister Debbie passed away on September 2nd, 2003, leaving behind a teenage son. She died the same day Mark’s first child Ella Rae was born.
Martin Scorsese directed Wahlberg to his very first Academy Award nomination as “Sgt. Sean Dignam” in The Departed (2006). Wahlberg has said that it’s one of the roles he is most proud of.
He and some friends were actually booked to fly on one of the planes that crashed in to the twin towers on September 11, 2001. Originally planning on flying from Boston to Los Angeles but at the last minute they decided to charter a plane to Toronto, Canada for a film festival and then from there to Los Angeles. A near brush with death that he still dreams about today. “We certainly would have tried to do something to fight. I’ve had probably over 50 dreams about it.”
Ranked #1 on VH1’s “Hottest Hotties of the 90’s”.
His father, Donald E. Wahlberg Sr., a veteran of the Korean War, died on 14 February 2008.
While performing as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch he often wore nothing but underpants on stage. Calvin Klein consequently asked him to model for Klein’s underwear line.
Was originally a member of New Kids on the Block, but left the band before they had their big break.
Had to spent about 60 days in the House of Correction in Massachusetts when he was a teenager.
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 29, 2010.
(August 1, 2009) Married long-time partner, Rhea Durham, at a private Catholic ceremony in Beverly Hills, California. They have four children together — Ella Rae Wahlberg (September 2, 2003), Michael Wahlberg (March 21, 2006), Brendan Joseph Wahlberg (September 16, 2008) and Grace Margaret Wahlberg (January 11, 2010).
Received his High School Diploma 25 years after dropping out of the Snowden International School in Massachusetts (previously known as Copley Square High School).
One of the ingredients of the cheeseburgers served at his family restaurant is “government cheese,” which was provided to welfare recipients when he was a child. Wahlberg has said he wanted the burgers to honestly and accurately reflect the working-class meals he and his siblings were raised on.