Wahlberg is the ultimate pro—whether he’s carrying an Oscar-winning film, producing shows on TV, or simply making us laugh our asses off. (See today’s Ted 2.) But there’s much more to this father of four; namely, a struggle for redemption.
A boxy figure in a blue suit, collared shirt, and no tie emerges backlit from smoke and shadow. He walks toward you, hands in pockets, fabric draping in symmetrical billows, his gait even, steps steady, and pauses, yellow light now hitting him full in the face. Mark Wahlberg nods once, then blinks, and asks, “How was that? Again?” He turns, walks back into the shadow and smoke, stands there, waits.
He’s here on a Hollywood sound-stage, filming a promotion for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. For pay-per-view watchers—in other words, all of us except the precious few who could afford the many thousands of dollars it cost to be in the MGM Grand Garden Arena that night in May—the first thing we saw before the big fight, after the preliminaries, before the ring walks and the cameras panning to the celebrities in the audience, was Mark Wahlberg walking out of the smoke and shadow, his familiar drawn, beseeching, hungry face staring at us and uttering with action-hero solemnity a kind of beat poem for the pugilistic set: “A rivalry, deeper than competition, so personal it transcends sports, it speaks to the very core of human nature.”
He goes on in this macho cadence for more than 30 seconds. It’s no easy task to stand there and spout this steroidal copywriting, but Wahlberg does it with aplomb, never wavering, in two quick takes. Like after a hard left and a hard right, this promo is down for the count. The lights come up and a few dozen camera, sound, light people, and a half-dozen guys in suits seated in armchairs, a phone in each hand, can finally stand up and stretch, talk full-throatedly into their phones. Wahlberg is a pro. He got here on time. He filled out his suit like a panther does his fur. And then nailed his lines. You can’t say the same for the other guy slated to do the promo, Sean “Diddy” Combs, who, as of Wahlberg’s nailed take, was already an hour late.
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