Mark Wahlberg: From Crime to Stardom

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
June 26th, 2014

Many movie stars come from less-than-ideal beginnings, but actor and producer Mark Wahlberg has a more dramatic story than most. From his beginnings as a petty criminal on the streets of Boston to his current status as a movie mogul, Wahlberg has had an interesting and varied life.

Born in 1971 in Boston, Wahlberg was the youngest of nine children. He grew up in a rough part of the city and turned to crime at an early age, getting in trouble with the police numerous times. He also struggled with addiction. Eventually, his actions landed Wahlberg in jail, where he realized the error of his ways.

Wahlberg overcame his early struggles and started a career in music. He became the headline performer of the group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Other members of the group included Wahlberg's brother Donnie, Hector Barros, Scott Ross, Anthony Thomas and Terry Yancey. Both Donnie and Mark Wahlberg had been members of the band New Kids on the Block in the 1980s; after Mark quit early on, Donnie stayed with the band through its successful run.

Led by Mark Wahlberg, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch released its first album in 1991. It quickly rose through the charts to become a nationwide sensation, with the single "Good Vibrations" reaching the number one spot on the "Billboard Hot 100" list. After its second album failed to reach the same level of success, the group broke up in 1993. Wahlberg continued to produce music under the name Marky Mark until 1998, dabbling in rap and reggae.

After Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch disbanded, Wahlberg also began to pursue a career in film. In 1993, he appeared as Marky Mark in a single episode of the TV series "Out All Night." The same year, he landed a role in "The Substitute," a made-for-TV movie. Wahlberg transitioned from television to film in 1994 with a role in "Renaissance Man," which starred Danny DeVito.

Concurrently with his music and acting careers, Wahlberg pursued a short-lived modeling career. He appeared in a series of underwear ads for Calvin Klein, appearing alone and with top-name models like Kate Moss.

In 1995, Wahlberg's star began to rise when he landed a role in the film "The Basketball Diaries." Starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio, the movie deals with a young basketball player's descent into drug addiction. Wahlberg received positive reviews for the role.

Over the next decade, Wahlberg worked hard to rid himself of his former pop idol status as he transitioned to a full-time acting career. He landed roles in a variety of critically acclaimed films, including "Boogie Nights," "Three Kings," "The Perfect Storm" and "The Italian Job." His performances were well received, and Wahlberg was finally considered a serious actor by film critics and audiences.

In 2006, Wahlberg was cast in the leading role in "Invincible." Based on the true story of Vince Papale, a bartender who wound up playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, the movie was a box office success. It demonstrated Wahlberg's ability to headline a film and shot him to true stardom. In the following years, he starred in a number of movies, including "Shooter," "Ted" and "Pain & Gain."

In addition to his long acting career, Wahlberg serves as an executive producer for the television series "Entourage." The show, which is rumored to be loosely based on Wahlberg's own experiences in Hollywood, was a success with critics and audiences alike. Each character on the show is based on one or more of Wahlberg's friends, managers, agents or acquaintances. Other producing credits include the TV series "Boardwalk Empire," "Ballers," "Broken City" and "How to Make it in America."

Despite his forays into producing, Wahlberg's acting career is still going strong. Though he once stated that he would retire at 40 and pursue professional golf, the actor has abandoned those plans. He is starring in the 2014 movie "Transformers: Age of Extinction" as Cade Yeager. The actor also has a number of other movies slated for release in 2014 and 2015, including "Ted 2," "Daddy's Home," "Good Time Gang," "Mojave" and "The Gambler." As it stands, the actor seems to have no plans to abandon his meteoric rise to stardom.

Despite his rough beginnings and early career as a teen idol, Wahlberg has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. In doing so, he has become one of the few stars who successfully make the transition from pop star to serious, critically acclaimed actor.