Mark Wahlberg PROFILE
Before he started acting, Mark Wahlberg was best known as Marky Mark, the pants-dropping rapper who attained fame and notoriety with his group The Funky Bunch. In the tradition of Will Smith and Ice Cube, Wahlberg has made a successful transition from music to film, garnering particular praise for his role in Boogie Nights.
Born June 5, 1971 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Wahlberg had a troubled early life. One of nine children, he dropped out of school at sixteen (he would later earn his GED) and committed a number of minor felonies. After working various odd jobs, Wahlberg briefly joined brother Donnie and his group New Kids on the Block before forming his own, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. The group had widespread popularity for a time, most notably with its 1992 hit single Good Vibrations. However, it was Wahlberg himself who received the lion's share of attention, whether it was for the homophobia controversy that surrounded him for a time, or for the 1992 Calvin Klein ad campaign featuring him wearing nothing more than his underwear, Kate Moss, and an attitude.
In 1993, Wahlberg turned his attentions to acting with a role in The Substitute. The film, directed by Hal Hartley favorite Martin Donovan and co-starring a then-unknown Natasha Gregson Wagner, was a critical and commercial failure, but Wahlberg's next project, 1994's Renaissance Man with Danny DeVito, gave him the positive notices that would increase with the release of his next film, The Basketball Diaries (1995). Although the film received mixed reviews, many critics praised Wahlberg's performance as Mickey, Leonardo DiCaprio's friend and fellow junkie. Following Diaries, Wahlberg appeared in Fear (1996) in the role of Reese Witherspoon's psychotic boyfriend.
It was with the release of Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights in 1997 that Wahlberg finally received across- the-board respect for his commanding yet unassuming performance as busboy-turned-porn star Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler. The film was nominated for three Oscars and a slew of other awards by associations ranging from the British Academy to the New York Film Critics Circle to MTV. The positive attention landed Wahlberg on a wide range of magazine covers and gave him greater Hollywood pulling power. He had, as they say, arrived.
Wahlberg's follow-up to Boogie Nights was 1998's The Big Hit, an action comedy that, particularly in the wake of Boogie Night's acclaim, proved to be a disappointment. This disappointment was hardly lessened by the relative critical and commercial shortcomings of Wahlberg's next film, The Corruptor (1999). An action flick that co-starred Chow Yun-Fat, The Corruptor showcased Wahlberg's familiar macho side and indicated that success in Hollywood is a strange and unpredictable thing.