The Hot Seat: Mark Wahlberg
The '90s bad boy is playing it straight.
Mon Aug 2 2010
Illustration: Carlo Giambarresi
We'll be honest, we're jealous of Mark Wahlberg. No one is ever going to make a sitcom of our lives la Entourage. No one's going to cast us in an Oscar-winning Martin Scorsese film like The Departed. And our rippling six-pack will never tower over Times Square on a Calvin Klein billboard. For an ex--street tough from Boston—for anyone, really—he's accomplished a hell of a lot. And he's adding to his credentials with his part in the new Adam McKay movie, The Other Guys, in which he and Will Ferrell play hapless desk jockeys alongside Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson's badass cops—a fitting role since Wahlberg's wild days are behind him. "There's only a few things that are really important to me: my religion, family, golf and my work," he tells us. When we spoke to Wahlberg he had just finished getting his four rug rats out of bed.
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Your character doesn't fit the Will Ferrell--movie mold. You were like an island of deadpan in a sea of goofiness.
Like everything I do, I try to play it as real and straight as possible and hope that the humor will come from the absurdity of the circumstances.
Was there a lot of improv in your scenes?
Yeah, but I've done it before. I've worked with people who let you run with the script, so I felt very comfortable throwing off just about anything.
I would worry about what might come out of my mouth. You don't have that problem?
No, not when you have a supportive cast. They're not going to laugh at you, they'll pick you up and dust you off. I felt like being old and having four children, there's no need to take myself seriously anymore. But with the traffic-cop scene in New York where I start dancing, I was out there by myself with people on their lunch break in midtown. There's no music playing and I've just got to start busting out these crazy dances in the middle of the intersection. I went with it, obviously—you have to—but I remember thinking, Oh my God. I actually have to do this.
What was the crowd's reaction like?
They were laughing. I was grinding on women walking across the crosswalk.
Did you live in New York in 1992 when your Calvin Klein billboard was in Times Square?
Yeah, I went to see it.
Did you stand underneath it and try to pick up girls?
Hmm, I dedicated a book to my penis, so I wasn't the brightest guy in the world. I've done many regrettable things, but that's why I work so hard now to try and better myself.
In The Other Guys, New Yorkers at the Chelsea Piers driving range destroy a helicopter with some well-struck golf balls. As a golfer yourself, do you think you could take down a chopper?
With the right shot maybe. We were at Chelsea Piers for a few days shooting the scene, so me, Will and the crew were playing the golf simulator.
I imagine you were taking money off Ferrell.
No, no. He's a real athlete, he plays basketball, too. He's a Kendrick Perkins or a Baby Davis. He'll work the inside and put the body on you.
Good to know. Did you take the Prius from the movie out for a spin?
Yeah, it's like a solar toaster on wheels.
Do you still rap in your spare time, like in your Marky Mark days?
No. The real Johnny Drama from Entourage raps all the time. He's like 50—and bad—but he raps all the time. I wish I could conference his ass in right now, he'd just start rapping. Sometimes when we're hanging out we'll rap a bit.
Care to bust a freestyle for TONY?
It's not likely you'll persuade me to do that. My kid is sitting in front of me, I don't want him to have that image.
That's a shame. You decided to wait out your recording contract. Are there unreleased Marky Mark songs?
Yeah, there's a load.
But now that there's the Internet, you can release them for free.
And make no money off it?
But the world needs it.
Nah, the world needs Justin Bieber.
Justin Bieber is like the white Tupac. Compared to a lot of people out there.
The Other Guys opens Fri 6.