One of my favourite editorials to do on site is The Many Faces Of. Over the last year that we have been doing this editorial we have profiled Christian Bale, Robert Pattinson, Dennis Hopper, Rhona Mitra , Megan Fox and my personal favourite Elizabeth Banks just to name a few. This go around we are looking at the career and many faces of Mark Wahlberg. Who would have thought that from his early days as a ‘rapper’ and Calvin Klein underwear model that he would transform himself into one of Hollywood most sought out actors! Many have crossed over from singer to actor but very few have done it as well as Mark Wahlberg has. Mark Wahlberg left his music career behind after being bogged down by controversy and headaches and took his foray into film and despite a mixed response at the start he has proven to be a name that can fill seats!
Mark Wahlbergs first role was in Renaissance Man where he played a Private in the film which starred Danny Devito as a down on his luck business man who joins the military as a teacher and finds himself educating a new breed of soldiers. He followed this role up with a role in The Basketball Diaries which starred Leonardo DiCaprio. Both of these films were never really strong on my radar because of the fact I was a bit young but shortly after doing The Basketball Diaries he did a movie that still resonates with me today. In 1996 he took on a co-starring role in the dark thriller FEAR in which he played a boyfriend who conceals a secret rage that culminates in a brutal and violent confrontation. Co-starring Reese Witherspoon for me this was the first role that started to put Mark Wahlberg on the map as more than just eye candy for the ladies.
He followed this up with one of my favourite action-comedy films of all time, The Big Hit where he plays Melvin Smiley a charming but troubled assassin who finds himself caught up in a kidnapping gone bad and must fight to survive and save his relationship with his fiancé… and his girlfriend! Charming, funny and packed full of action I have watched it no less than 20 times over the years. Completely off topic but The Big Hit stars China Chow who is not only drop dead gorgeous but deserving of alot more recognition and movie roles. She is now 34 but no less smoking hot ( and currently dating Keanu Reeves ). Her chemistry with Mark in The Big Hit was truly fantastic!
Admittedly not for everyone so if you couldn’t see fit to see The Big Hit you might consider checking out his 1997 film Boogie Nights where he plays a young man who goes into the porn business and quickly finds the dirty under belly of being in the ‘business’. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson unlike The Big Hit which is a good time popcorn flick Boogie Nights shows Mark Wahlberg’s ability to transform himself into his character. Both films are fine demonstrations of Mark Wahlbergs abilities as an actor.
Over the next three years Mark kept busy working on a variety of roles including the buddy action flick Three Kings which he co-starred in with George Clooney, The Perfect Storm and The Yards. All memorable roles and since at the time I was primarily an action junkie I found Three Kings to be the best of the three but as I have gotten older I have found a warmer spot for The Yards where he plays a young man in Queens who quickly finds himself tied up in the crime rackets that revolve around the train yards where he lives
In 2001 Mark Wahlberg starred in the remake of one of the greatest sci-fi epics ever made Planet of the Apes. This film was marketed extremely well and took advantage of a great special FX team and a fantastic director in the form of Tim Burton and delivered an experience that to this day I have been begging for a sequel to. Fortunately for us just this year FOX began work on a sequel which is still in very early stages but regardless I am on board for it and hope Wahlberg will return.
After Planet of the Apes he starred in a slew of films that were hit and miss for me including Rock Star, The Italian Job and Four Brothers, The Truth about Charlie and I Heart Huckabees. Rock Star was ok at best but is still one of the few good roles Jennifer Aniston has taken on since Friends. The Italian Job was a fun crime caper but unfortunately Four Brothers despite a strong effort by Mark was atrocious. The Truth About Charlie and I Heart Huckabee’s are both still on my ‘watch list’ at this point.
In 2006 he took on a series of roles in crime thrillers that fit him quite well. For whatever reason he fits really well into the crime caper genre and in 2006 he starred in The Departed playing Sgt Dignam. Although not one of the major roles ( Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio took those ) he delivered as the hardnosed Police Sergeant. He followed the Departed with a starring role in Shooter unfortunately Shooter tried hard but was a bit hit and miss. Mark Wahlberg starred as a sharpshooter framed for attempted murder of a political leader who goes on the run and in the process tracks down and ‘deals with’ the real culprits.
After Shooter he unfortunately had a string of forgettable movies but certainly not at any fault of his. Although Mark delivered strong roles in We Own the Night and The Happening they simply fell flat and in the case of The Happening the whole film was frustrating. Great cast, great director and a truly unique story and yet somehow it still came apart! Much to my disdain in 2008 Mark Wahlberg starred in the movie adaptation of Max Payne and this go around Mark fell flat. His portrayal of Max Payne did not resonate with me and combined with a bad script and weak direction it’s easily one of my least favourite films of his career. He co-starred with Mila Kunis and she was really the only good thing about this movie outside of a few highlight moments.
After a two year drought though Mark Wahlberg was back in his glory co-starring in Peter Jacksons The Lovely Bones where he plays a grieving father coming to terms with the abduction and murder of his pre-teen daughter. Co-starring Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon it is one of his best performances to date and combining his performance and that of his co-stars with a truly talented director and a great source material The Lovely Bones is definitely a career highlight for Wahlberg.
2010 has been Wahlbergs best year yet with The Fighter which has won him acclaim and firmly placed him in the minds of critics and fans as a real talent. He started 2010 off on a bit of a rough foot with The Other Guys and Date Night which were flat at no fault of his since he delivered strong performances in both proving it’s not just about the actor, but material is key as well. Fortunately he closed the year with the The Fighter which made many Top 10 Films of 2010 including our very own Luke’s.
Mark has transformed himself from a rapper and underwear model to a recognized and well respected actor despite some falters along the way. He is now not just acting but producing and will very soon be back on the big screen alongside such names as Kate Beckinsale in Contraband and Mila Kunis and Seth McFarlane in TED. Mark has come a long way with his career and I truly look forward to seeing where he takes it!