An Interview with Mark Wahlberg

Actor Mark Wahlberg, 43, had a spell in prison at 17 before reinventing himself as rapper Marky Mark. He made his Hollywood breakthrough in Boogie Nights in 1997 and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2006 for The Departed. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Rhea Durham, and their four children.

Being the youngest of nine kids taught me survival instincts. I tell my youngest son, “Don’t worry, just keep playing, don’t quit – one day you will beat your brother, and from that point on you’ll beat him every time.” When you’re the youngest, you have to work that much harder to get respect, to be taken seriously. That’s why I’m in the position I’m in today. I was relentless.

I say my prayers every day. When I was younger and got into trouble, I would run back to my faith as a crutch, but now it’s the most important part of my life. I don’t try to shove it down anyone’s throat, but nor do I try to hide it. It is who I am and that’s not going to change.

Anything is possible in America. I’ve gone from being in prison at 17 to being in this situation right now; in one generation, I’ve completely turned it around. You can’t do that in many places in the world.

I’m not sure I’m easy to live with. I’m a very disciplined, very routine person.

If you catch me right after church. I’m the nicest guy in the world.

Embrace getting old. I’m married with four kids and I don’t think I’ve looked in a mirror in ten years.

If having a daughter doesn’t change you as a man, then you have a problem. I was a young guy and I got my feelings hurt. From that point on, I was never going to be loyal, so I became a bit of a jerk. Having my daughter made me really appreciate, understand and respect women in the way I should. I’m very, very protective of her. Dating is inevitable, and hopefully she’ll find a nice guy and that will be it. As for the guy that breaks her heart: I enjoy my freedom, so I don’t want to have to do anything too crazy.

I know what it is to be broke. I never forget where I’ve come from, and I think that’s part of the reason I work so hard. I appreciate my job. Some people take it for granted – they have a sense of entitlement.

Anything that comes easy is probably not going to last. Or you’re not going to appreciate it the way you should, to protect it and nurture it. Earn it; don’t take short cuts. Hard work pays off.

Pope Francis is a blessing. It’s still early, but he’s done some pretty incredible things. He’s a welcome change, and seems to be going in the right direction.

Kids think they know it all. People have asked me what advice I would give my younger self. I tell them he wouldn’t listen. He would think I was old and out of touch. I would probably end up just saying to him, “You’ll see.”

What keeps me grounded is my upbringing and my faith. I come from the real world – growing up with nothing, but having a really strong family foundation. Understanding that, at any moment, this could all be gone.

If I’m not leading the pack, I like to be there for whoever is.

If I wasn’t in the movie business, I would still be a man who takes pride in working hard. I would try to do my best, make an honest living, provide for my family, feel good at the end of the day.

Don’t spend too much time thinking about what other people think of you. I can’t think about the good or bad. I care what my wife thinks, my kids think and the good Lord thinks.

Credit: Helen Alexander / The Times / The Interview People

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