1H with… Mark Wahlberg: "Fighting has long been my thing"

Audience: You will soon be returning to the cinema with Father Stu, the biopic of a boxer who became a priest. Is it true that it took you six years to transpose this story to the cinema?

Mark Wahlberg: Yes ! Faced with the refusal of the studios, I ended up self-financing it by putting millions out of my pocket. Stuart Long had an extraordinary career: this American athlete shone in the 1980s, before leaving a disfigured fight. He then tried to become an actor but had another accident, this time on a motorcycle. It was on his hospital bed that he felt the call of God. I wanted to do him justice and bring people closer to the Lord and to others.

To step into the shoes of this boxer, you gained a lot of weight…

Yes, it was the most difficult: I like sport, and I see food as fuel. There, I had to put myself on a diet of 11,000 calories a day! For breakfast, I ate a dozen eggs, a dozen pieces of bacon, two bowls of white rice, and drank a cup of olive oil to wash it all down. On average, I ingested seven to eight meals a day!

“My first date with my wife? At the church”

Not quite the diet of your wife of thirteen years, model Rhea Durham! How did you seduce her when you met?

I prayed to God to put a nice woman on my path! But he felt that I wasn’t ready, until the day he brought Rhea into my life. I met her in New York, through mutual friends and, at first sight, I knew she was the right one! The next day, I called her and asked her to accompany me to church. We never left each other.

You seem far from your youth road trips!

I grew up in a neighborhood where gangs were everywhere. To make your mark, you had to impose yourself. At 15, I knew all the cops in Dorchester, the part of Boston where I grew up. They regularly came to arrest me with my brothers at home! We were nine children and my parents were overwhelmed. Castagne was my thing, especially at school, which I left at 14. I also passed the baccalaureate at 42 years old. I’m lucky: many of my childhood friends ended up in prison or with a bullet in the head!

What did you want to do with your life?

Musician or actor but, in my neighborhood, you were pushed rather to destroy, steal, intimidate, rob! I even went through the prison box.

What is your relationship with the police today?

I like the forces of order! (Laughs.) I understood that they were there to protect us.

“My children are ashamed of my career as a rapper”

What father are you to your four children?

I learned on the job. I didn’t know, for example, how I would react the day my daughter brought a friend home! Fortunately, I had no reason to reduce it to mush…

What do your children think of your career as a rapper, as Marky Mark?

They’re ashamed of it, especially the clips where you see me sweating in baggy pants with my underpants showing! The other day, I was at my son’s football match and, at half-time, the organizers broadcast Good Vibrations: he covered his ears and hid behind the bench!

Where have your tattoos gone?

I had them removed when I became a father: it was a bad example. In addition, as soon as I shot bare-chested, make-up artists had to hide them. We were wasting a lot of time! In any case, erasing them hurts more than tattooing them.

How do you explain that you no longer make the front page of people magazines?

I lead a super boring life! There’s nothing fascinating about following a guy shopping at the supermarket or hitting the ball with his son.

In addition to the cinema, you are a businessman. What are your sectors of activity?

Commercial and private real estate, health, well-being… I also have a line of protein products for sport. I diversified because there are no guarantees in my job! It only takes a few failures at the cinema for you to be snubbed.

Did your success give you a big head?

No. When I was a kid, my parents pulled the devil by the tail and, to stall, we ate sandwiches with mayonnaise or dipped bread crumbs in olive oil! I know too well where I come from to be complacent… On the other hand, I am proud of my success because I worked like crazy.

The pandemic has not affected your business?

During Covid, my gyms and restaurants closed. My businesses have wallowed! But I intend to bounce back.

Have you ever felt like your life could have changed?

Yes ! In September 2001, I was checked in on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers rebelled against al-Qaeda terrorists. At the last moment, with my friends, we changed our plans and left from Toronto instead of Boston. Since then, I tell myself that my time is limited and that I have to take advantage of each day as if it were the last!

Key dates

1. June 5, 1971

Born in Boston. The last of a family of nine children, he went on to commit crimes as a teenager. He was imprisoned for robbery at age 17.

2. 1991

Mark becomes Marky Mark and makes himself known with hip-hop albums. Beginnings that will be difficult to forget: “It took me ten years to be accepted as an actor!”

3. August 1, 2009

He marries model Rhea Durham, whom he is still crazy about. They had four children, two girls and two boys.

4. Fall 2022

Release of Father Stu, with Mark and Mel Gibson. The story of a boxer turned priest, which the actor had wanted to adapt for years.

See also: Who are the highest paid actors in the world?

Interview by Frank Rousseau, in Los Angeles

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