The former underwear model has been lauded for his acting in ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘Three Kings’, although the less said about his roles in remakes ‘The Italian Job’ and ‘Planet of The Apes’ the better.
Mark grew up the youngest of nine children in a working-class Irish Catholic family in the Boston district of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Mark's parents divorced when he was 11, and his mother has since blamed her own emotional neglect for her youngest son's descent into juvenile delinquency during the next several years.
At 14, Mark dropped out of school and began making his living on the streets, hustling, stealing, and selling drugs. Two years later, he hit rock bottom when he was jailed for his role in the savage beating of a Vietnamese man. Although the crime was believed by many to be racially motivated, Wahlberg has continually denied that race played a part in the attack.
His 45-day stint in prison was a turning point in the 16-year-old Wahlberg's life. Vowing to give himself some direction in his life, he also began body building seriously, and from such small changes, big things would come.
By the time Wahlberg emerged from prison, his older brother Donnie had rocketed to stardom as one of five fresh-faced members of the pop band New Kids on the Block. Donnie decided to help his younger brother find his own niche in the music business. Mark himself became a member of the band but left before they got their big break.
What Wahlberg lacked in singing ability, he made up for in charisma and good looks. With Donnie's hip-hop arrangements and producing help, Marky Mark (his rap name) and his back-up DJ and dancers (dubbed "the Funky Bunch") recorded debut album ‘Music for the People’ (1991).
Driven by the success of the hit dance singles 'Good Vibrations' and 'Wildside' (and by Marky Mark's readiness to discard his shirt and drop his pants onstage and in his videos), the album went platinum, selling over a million copies.
One of pop music's hottest new commodities, Wahlberg (and his rock-hard physique) became even more ubiquitous when he signed a two-year contract with the designer Calvin Klein to model underwear. His raucous public persona was infamous - he once became involved in a much-talked-about brawl with Madonna and her entourage at a Los Angeles nightclub which only served to increase his popular appeal, until news began surfacing about his criminal past and his possibly racist and homophobic tendencies.
In 1993, this part of Wahlberg's personal life was seriously questioned when he was accused of condoning blatantly homophobic remarks made on a British talk show by his fellow guest, the dancehall singer Shabba Ranks.
Combined with the disappointing sales of the Funky Bunch's second album, 'You Gotta Believe' (1992), the public criticism of Wahlberg's career seemed to be steering his career towards certain death. The 22-year-old's survival instincts kicked in, however, and he soon made a move into another realm of the entertainment world - acting.
After appearing in a 1993 television movie, 'The Substitute', Wahlberg made his big screen debut in Penny Marshall's lightweight 'Renaissance Man' (1994), in which he played one of a group of army recruits taught by ex-advertising salesman Danny DeVito.
His innate screen presence led to his casting in his breakthrough role, that of the drug-addled best friend of Leonardo DiCaprio's character in 'The Basketball Diaries' (1995), a small-scale but acclaimed film based on poet-musician Jim Carroll's dark autobiography of his own adolescent struggles with heroin addiction.
After two more attention-getting performances in 'Fear' (1996) and 'Traveller' (1997), Wahlberg cemented his artistic and commercial reputation (and left "Marky Mark" far behind) with a starring role as dishwasher turned porn star Eddie Adams (aka Dirk Diggler) in writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's buzzworthy 'Boogie Nights' (1997), co-starring Burt Reynolds.
Though his next two films – 'The Big Hit' (1998) and 'The Corruptor' (1999), co-starring Chinese action superstar Chow Yun-Fat - were less than successful, Wahlberg returned with a bang in the acclaimed 'Three Kings' (1999).
The film co-starred Wahlberg, George Clooney, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze as renegade U.S. servicemen in the Persian Gulf during the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War conflict.
In 2000, Wahlberg reteamed with Clooney (and Diane Lane) in 'The Perfect Storm', Wolfgang Petersen's highly-touted film version of Sebastian Junger's bestselling account of a boat full of sword-fishermen caught in a killer storm in the North Atlantic.
In late 2000, Wahlberg co-starred with Joaquin Phoenix and James Caan in the little-seen crime drama 'The Yards'. The following year, he starred as a heavy metal rock musician in 'Rock Star', co-starring Jennifer Aniston, and in the lead role in a remake of the classic 'Planet of the Apes', co-starring Charlton Heston and Helena Bonham Carter.
In 2003, Wahlberg co-starred with Charlize Theron in the heist thriller 'The Italian Job'. Other projects included joining Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Dustin Hoffman for an existential comedy titled 'I Heart Huckabees'. He also signed on for 'The Jacket' in which he stars as a falsely imprisoned man with psychic visions, but left the production (letting Adrien Brody take over the role).
Wahlberg and model Rhea Durham celebrated the birth of their daughter, Ella Rae, in September 2003.
His next great film was the 2006 Martin Scorsese 'The Departed', a remake of the Hong Kong crime classic 'Infernal Affairs' that was arguably as good as the original (a rare feat for American cinema). Wahlberg received his first Academy Award nomination for this film, and has since stated this is the role he is most proud of.
He starred in M Night Shyamalan's 'The Happening' and 'We Own the Night' in 2008. Next he appeared in Peter Jackson's much anticipated book adaptation 'The Lovely Bones' in 2009, and in 2010 appeared with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey in the romcom thriller 'Date Night'. He also played one of the main roles in 'The Other Guys' with Will Ferrell.
On 1 August 2009 he married his long-term partner Rhea, and she gave birth to their fourth child on 11 January 2010.
Wahlberg received the honour of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 25 July 2010. He also produced and appeared in the hit 'The Fighter' for which Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won supporting actor Oscars, while Wahlberg was nominated for best motion picture of the year. He starred in Seth Macfarlane's comedy 'Ted' in 2012 and the thriller '2 Guns' in 2013.
As well as films, Wahlberg has appeared in TV shows, most notably 'Entourage'. He acted in and produced the show between 2004 and 2011.