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Career Watch: Marky Mark Wahlberg - A Big, Bright, Shining Star

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood July 3, 2012 at 4:11PM

Mark Wahlberg's "Ted" opened strong this past weekend, and while it's no awards contender, it does prove Wahlberg's box office power. Although none of his upcoming projects scream "Oscar nom #2!" one must admit that Marky Mark has come a long way...
Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg's "Ted" opened strong this past weekend, and while it's no awards contender, it does prove Wahlberg's box office power. Wahlberg keeps busy, exec producing shows like "Boardwalk Empire," "How to Make it in America," "Entourage" and "In Treatment," while starring in a range of projects, like the currently filming action-thriller "2 Guns," with his "Contraband" director Baltasar Kormàkur, Denzel Washington and Paula Patton; Allen Hughes' crime drama "Broken City" with Russell Crowe, now completed and slated for an early 2013 release; and Michael Bay's "Pain and Gain" with Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie, scheduled for an April 2013 bow. Wahlberg has several other producing and acting projects in various stages of development, showing no signs of slowing down. While none of his projects scream "Oscar nom #2!" one must admit that Marky Mark has come a long way...

SIGNATURE QUOTE: "I am a star. I'm a star, I'm a star, I'm a star. I am a big, bright, shining star. That's right." - as Dirk Diggler in "Boogie Nights"

'The Fighter'
'The Fighter'

THE START: The youngest of nine children, Wahlberg grew up in Dorchester, MA (outside of Boston). As a trouble-making and drug-dealing teen, he did a brief stint in prison before older brother Donnie (of The New Kids on The Block) helped him get started as Marky Mark, the ladykiller who looked best in his undies (Hello, Calvin Klein endorsement) while leading the The Funky Bunch.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: After seducing/terrorizing Reese Witherspoon in 1996's "Fear," Wahlberg starred as Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson's beloved 1997 porn-industry odyssey "Boogie Nights." In 1999 he established his fruitful working relationship with director David O. Russell with "Three Kings"; "I Heart Huckabees" (2004) and 2010 Oscar darling and indie sensation "The Fighter" (a passion project which Wahlberg also produced) followed. Wahlberg's Best Supporting Oscar nomination came for 2006's "The Departed." The Martin Scorsese pic was also one of his biggest hits, earning $290 million worldwide. Tim Burton's odd "Planet of the Apes" failed to impress the critics in 2001 (45% Rotten) but brought in $362 million worldwide, while his outing with M. Night Shyamalan, 2008's "The Happening," earned $163 million despite being even more despised by critics. Other hits include "The Perfect Storm" (2000; $328 million; 47% Rotten), "The Italian Job" (2003; $175 million; 72% Fresh) and "The Other Guys" (2010; $171 million; 79% Fresh). His shirtless supporting role in 2010's "Date Night" ($152 million; 67% Fresh) nearly stole the show. Perhaps Wahlberg's most underrated film: James Gray's 2007 "We Own The Night."

MISFIRES: Among Wahlberg's most obvious failures are 2001's "Rock Star," 2002's "The Truth About Charlie," 2008's "Max Payne" and 2009's "The Lovely Bones." Yes, the man has some range, but these films missed the target area completely.

BIGGEST ASSET: His sense of humor. Wahlberg is best when he embraces his limitations (he's not a leading man à la Brad Pitt or Daniel Day-Lewis) and relaxes into being his likeable self amidst strong ensembles (see: "Boogie Nights," "The Fighter," "The Departed").

CAREER ADVICE: Stay within your action-comedy-commercial comfort zone; it's working. If you continue to make occasional diversions into the indie-passion-project realm, stick with Russell. Make friends with Steven Soderbergh; if "Magic Mike 2" happens, get on that.

Marky Mark in Calvins

Relive Wahlberg's career in trailers and videos below:

This article is related to: Mark Wahlberg, Career Watch, Features, The Fighter, Headliners, Celebs, Video

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.