5 reasons to love Mark Wahlberg

Actor Mark Wahlberg poses for a portrait while promoting the film

Actor Mark Wahlberg poses for a portrait while promoting the film "Lone Survivor" in New York, in this December 5, 2013, file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

BRUCE KIRKLAND, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:39 AM ET

NEW YORK — Actor-producer Mark Wahlberg shuffles into the Manhattan hotel room for an interview, his right arm limp, his neck cocked at an awkward angle. He shakes my hand with his left, grimacing in pain. Wahlberg has suffered a severe injury of some kind while filming this summer's Transformers: Age of Extinction. But he never complains or even explains. Instead, partnered with former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, he just plunges into another day of interviews in support of the Afghanistan war film Lone Survivor.

The encounter, one of many I have had with Wahlberg over 20 years, reminds me of how much I respect the man, the actor and the filmmaker that Wahlberg has become at 42. His is an incredible story of transitioning from his early life in Boston as a stupid racist punk and thug criminal. Now he is a Hollywood star who actually has a moral compass.

Here are five things to love about Mark Wahlberg:

• Wahlberg is proof that, in some cases, jail time can scare a young man straight. Despite a rough childhood, he takes responsibility for his abhorrent record of drug abuse, petty crime and serious assaults. “I never behaved like a victim so that I would have a convenient reason for victimizing others,” Wahlberg told The Daily Mail in 2009. “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.”

• Wahlberg is proof that, in some cases, becoming a Calvin Klein underwear model and a white rapper will not necessarily result in eternal damnation. The former Marky Mark shed his ridiculous stage name and moved on to more serious business after making his film debut in The Substitute (1993).

• Wahlberg is proof that, in some cases, becoming a Hollywood action star does not exclude doing off-beat and odd-ball films. His credits include The Basketball Diaries, Boogie Nights, I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter and Ted, as well as Martin Scorsese’s masterful crime thriller, The Departed.

• Wahlberg is proof that, in some cases, co-starring with an animated animal is not kid’s play. Seth MacFarlane’s Ted (2012) is as friggin’ brilliant as it is rude and crude. Ted 2 is in pre-production for a scheduled 2015 release. It is one of the few forthcoming Hollywood sequels that I am actually excited to see.

• Wahlberg is proof that, in some cases, becoming a Hollywood movie star is not a ticket to arrogance and entitlement. In his teens and early 20s, Wahlberg was a horse’s ass. As a mature man, he has become a model citizen. He gives back to his community. The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation helps troubled youth. Wahlberg is involved with the Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children. Symbolically, for his four children and his career, Wahlberg has undergone dozens of laser treatments to remove his ugly tattoos. You have to love a man like that.


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