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Oscar-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg first earned fame as a rapper and underwear model. He made his acting debut in “Renaissance Man” (1994) and impressed audiences with his roles in “The Basketball Diaries” (1995), “Boogie Nights” (1997), “Three Kings” (1999) and “The Departed” (2006). The father of four next makes a play at comedy in “The Other Guys” opposite Will Ferrell, and in December will star as boxer “Irish” Micky Ward in David O. Russell’s “The Fighter.” Before receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Wahlberg, also a producer on HBO’s “Entourage” and “In Treatment,” spoke with The Hollywood Reporter’s Zorianna Kit.
The Hollywood Reporter: In doing a comedy, did you discover an aspect of yourself you hadn’t before?
Mark Wahlberg: Coming from where I come from, you’re always worried about what people think and you become a bit self-conscious. There’s no room for that on the set of their movies. I felt confident and comfortable enough with those guys knowing that I’d be protected to put myself out there.
THR: You first tried your hand at comedy with “Date Night” this year.
Wahlberg: Comedy is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. But you gotta do it with the right people. If you don’t, then you probably won’t get too many other opportunities. I was already signed on to do the Will Ferrell, Adam McKay movie when this opportunity came up, so it was a nice way to get my feet wet.
THR: “The Fighter” is your third project with David O. Russell. How would you describe your relationship?
Wahlberg: Our friendship is probably the most important aspect. We’ve both experienced a lot in the amount of time that we’ve known each other. We can say whatever we’re thinking and not have to worry about hurting each other’s feelings. When it came to “Fighter,” I had been trying to make the movie for a long time and he got hold of the script. He kept talking to me about it and kept saying all the right things. I realized that with him is how we make the best version of the film.
THR: Why was that movie important to you?
Wahlberg: I promised Micky Ward, whom I play in the movie, that we were gonna get it done. I trained for 41/2 years. There were times where I was like, “Forget about it, it’s just not going to happen.” But then, of course, I’m thinking, “I can’t put in all this time and effort and not get it done.”
THR: It sounds like it was a lesson in patience.
Wahlberg: I need to be more patient.
THR: Do you have any rituals?
Wahlberg: I pray a lot. I was raised around the church, but then I strayed off and started hanging out with guys in the neighborhood. When I got into trouble, I turned to God. Once I started to refocus my faith, really good things started happening for me. And even when bad things happened, it was a lot easier to deal with. It’s become the most important part of my life.
THR: Beside that, what do you feel you’re an absolute expert on?
Wahlberg: “Dora the Explorer.” Anything to do with kids, I’m pretty sharp on.
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