Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg (born June 5, 1971) is an American actor, producer, and former model and rapper. He was known as Marky Mark in his earlier years, becoming famous for his 1991 debut as frontman with the band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. He later transitioned to acting, and is now known for his roles in films. Two important roles in the 1990s were the drama Boogie Nights (1997) and the satirical war-comedy Three Kings (1999). In the 2000s, he starred in the biographical disaster drama The Perfect Storm (2000), the science fiction film Planet of the Apes (2001), the musical comedy-drama Rock Star (2001), the heist film The Italian Job (2003), and the Martin Scorsese-directed crime drama The Departed (2006) for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In the 2010s, he starred in the action comedy The Other Guys (2010), the biographical sports drama The Fighter (2010), the comedy Ted (2012), the war film Lone Survivor (2013), the crime-comedy-drama Pain & Gain (2013), and the sci-fi action film Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014).
He has also served as executive producer of three HBO series: the comedy-drama Entourage (2004–11), the period crime drama Boardwalk Empire (2009–14), and the comedy-drama How to Make It in America (2010–11).
Wahlberg was born in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest of nine children, with siblings Arthur, Jim, Paul, Robert, Tracey, Michelle, Debbie (died in 2003 at age 43), and Donnie. Wahlberg’s mother, Alma Elaine (née Donnelly), was a bank clerk and nurse’s aide, and Wahlberg’s father, Donald Edward Wahlberg, was a Teamster who worked as 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 descent. 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 had been in trouble 20–25 times with the Boston Police Department in his youth. 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 harassing African-American children (the first were siblings, and the second incident was a group of black school children on a field trip), by throwing rocks and shouting racial epithets. At 16, Wahlberg approached a middle-aged Vietnamese man named Thanh Lam on the street and, using a large wooden stick, knocked him unconscious while calling him “VIETNAM FUCKING SHIT”. That same day Wahlberg also attacked a second Vietnamese man named Hoa “Johnny” Trinh, punching him in the face. He believed he had left his victim permanently blind in one eye. Trinh was interviewed in December 2014 by the Daily Mail, who revealed that he had already lost his eye during the Vietnam War, was not severely injured by Wahlberg, and did not know the identity of his assailant prior to being contacted by the media. 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 motherfucker who’s (sic) head I split open.” Investigators also noted that Wahlberg “made numerous unsolicited racial statements about ‘gooks’ and ‘slant-eyed gooks’.”
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. In another incident, the 21-year-old Wahlberg fractured the jaw of a neighbor in an unprovoked attack. Commenting in 2006 on his past crimes, Wahlberg has 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.”
After going to prison for assault, he decided to improve his behavior. According to Wahlberg, “As soon as I began that life of crime, there was always a voice in my head telling me I was going to end up in jail. Three of my brothers had done time. My sister went to prison so many times I lost count. Finally I was there, locked up with the kind of guys I’d always wanted to be like. Now I’d earned my stripes and I was just like them, and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted at all. I’d ended up in the worst place I could possibly imagine and I never wanted to go back. First of all, I had to learn to stay on the straight and narrow.” 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. The actor commented in 2009: “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and I’ve done bad things, but I never blamed my upbringing for that. I never behaved like a victim so that I would have a convenient reason for victimizing others. Everything I did wrong was my own fault. I was taught the difference between right and wrong at an early age. I take full responsibility.”
On 26 November 2014, Wahlberg filed an application in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requesting a full and unconditional pardon from his prior convictions. His pardon application has engendered some controversy. According to the BBC, the debate about his suitability for a pardon is still ongoing with the arguments on both sides being far reaching and complex. There is also an ongoing petition to the Massachusetts governor to deny Wahlberg’s pardon. One of Wahlberg’s victims, Trinh, has pledged to make a written statement supporting a pardon.