Wahlberg has also served as executive producer of four HBO series: the comedy-drama Entourage (2004–11), the period crime drama Boardwalk Empire (2010–14), and the comedy-dramas How to Make It in America (2010–11) and Ballers (2015–present). He is co-owner of the Wahlburgers chain and co-stars in the reality TV series about it. Wahlberg received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 29, 2010. He is known for his "tough guy" action persona, frequently portraying police officers, military personnel, or criminals in his films. He is also known for his collaborations with directors David O. Russell, Michael Bay, and Peter Berg.
Wahlberg was born in 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 afterwards, 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 on Newbury Street in Boston. He never graduated, and so did not receive his high school diploma until June 2013.
By age 13, Wahlberg had developed an addiction to cocaine and other substances.
At 15, civil action was filed against Wahlberg for his involvement in two separate incidents of throwing rocks and shouting racial epithets at African-American children; the first incident was against two brothers and their sister; the second incident was against a group of school children on a field trip.
At 16, Wahlberg approached a middle-aged Vietnamese man named Thanh Lam on the street, and using a large wooden stick, bashed him over the head until he was knocked unconscious while calling him a "Vietnam fucking shit". That same day, Wahlberg also attacked a second Vietnamese man named Hoa "Johnny" Trinh, sucker punching him in the eye. According to court documents regarding these crimes, when Wahlberg was arrested later that night and returned to the scene of the first assault, he stated to police officers: "You don't have to let him identify me, I'll tell you now that's the mother-fucker who's [sic] head I split open." Investigators also noted that Wahlberg "made numerous unsolicited racial statements about 'gooks' and 'slant-eyed gooks'. The Asian community believes that Walberg is still a racist as he has never apologized to the Asian community for his past actions."
For these crimes, Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder, pleaded guilty to assault, and was sentenced to two years in Suffolk County Deer Island House of Correction. He ultimately served only 45 days of his sentence, but carries a permanent felony record. Wahlberg believed he had left Trinh permanently blind in one eye. Trinh was interviewed in December 2014 by the Daily Mail; he revealed that he had already lost that eye during the Vietnam War, and did not know the identity of his assailant prior to being contacted by the media.
In another incident, then 21-year-old Wahlberg fractured the jaw of a neighbor in an unprovoked attack. Court documents state that in 1992, Wahlberg "without provocation or cause, viciously and repeatedly kicked" a man named Robert D. Crehan in the face and jaw while another man named Derek McCall held Crehan down on the ground.
Commenting in 2006 on his past crimes, Wahlberg stated: "I did a lot of things that I regret, and I have certainly paid for my mistakes." He said the right thing to do would be to try to find the blinded man and make amends, and admitted he has not done so, but added that he was no longer burdened by guilt: "You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn't until I really started doing good and doing right by other people, as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don't have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning." In 2016, Wahlberg said he'd met Trinh and apologized for his "horrific acts".
After prison, Wahlberg decided to improve his behavior. Of this he has said,
Wahlberg first relied on the guidance of his parish priest to turn his back on crime. He told his street gang that he was leaving them and had "some serious fights" with them over it.
On November 26, 2014, Wahlberg filed an application in Massachusetts requesting a full and unconditional pardon of his prior convictions. His pardon application engendered some controversy. According to the BBC, the debate about his suitability for a pardon raised "difficult issues, with the arguments on both sides being far-reaching and complex". One of Wahlberg's victims, Trinh, pledged in December 2014 to make a written statement supporting a pardon. Kristyn Atwood, one of the African-American children attacked by Wahlberg, spoke out against the pardon in 2015, saying "a racist will always be a racist". In September 2016, Wahlberg's pardon petition was closed after he failed to answer a request from the pardon board as to whether he wanted it to remain open.
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. He quit after staying three months in the group. His departure eventually allowed Joey 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 Billboard's 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". Two solo tracks titled "Feel the Vibe" and "Best of my Love" were released in 1997. 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 Wahlberg exclusively or accompanied by model Kate Moss. Annie Leibovitz also shot a famous session of 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 (ISBN 1-55510-910-1).
In 2012, he launched a line of sports nutrition supplements called Marked.
In March 2017, AT&T announced that Wahlberg would become a spokesman and he would create original content for the mobile network division. The deal would reportedly pay Wahlberg more than $10 million.
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 earned positive reviews after films 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 a 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, Wahlberg became involved in a playful feud with The Lonely Island's Andy Samberg and threatened to "crack that big fucking 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, 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 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 2016, he starred in two Peter Berg films, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day. He topped the list for the highest paid actors in the world for 2017.
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."
Wahlberg 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. Rick 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.
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.
Wahlberg has been in a relationship with model Rhea Durham since 2001, and they were married on August 1, 2009, at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills. The couple has four children: daughters Ella Rae and Grace Margaret (b. 2010) and sons Michael and Brendan Joseph (b. 2008).
Wahlberg's father, a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, died on February 14, 2008.
In 2012, Wahlberg was quoted in a magazine interview regarding what would have happened if he had flown aboard American Airlines Flight 11 on September 11, 2001. He had been booked on Flight 11, but his plans changed the day before the scheduled flight and he cancelled his reservation. Wahlberg received public criticism for stating, "If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn't have went down like it did," and "There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, 'OK, we're going to land somewhere safely, don't worry'". Wahlberg issued a public apology after family members of those killed on the flight expressed outrage about his statements.
Wahlberg is a supporter of the Democratic Party, having donated all of his campaign contribution money to Democratic presidential candidates. He voiced support for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election campaign.
Wahlberg has an equity interest in the Barbados Tridents cricket team since 2013 after he was introduced to the game by his friend Ajmal Khan, the club’s chairman and Caribbean Premier League architect.
A committed Roman Catholic and daily Mass attendee, Wahlberg openly supports same-sex marriage, despite the church's opposition. On September 27, 2015, he apologized to Pope Francis about the jokes made in his film Ted. He has said that he had his personal rosary blessed by the pontiff.