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Mark Wahlberg, Breaking and Playing the Law

Actor Mark Wahlberg co-starred in We Own the Night, recently released on DVD. The film tells the story of two Brooklyn brothers on opposite sides of the law.

This wasn't the first time Wahlberg played a New England police officer. In 2007, he was an Academy Award nominee for best supporting actor for his role as a Massachusetts State Police sergeant in Martin Scorsese's The Departed.

In this 2007 interview, Wahlberg talks about how run-ins with the law in his youth helped him to play law enforcement roles, particularly in The Departed.

"I had spent 15, 16 years of my life torturing my parents and being arrested and having to call them to come and bail me out of various jails for various petty crimes," says Wahlberg, a Boston native.

"And you know, there's a very thin line between cops and crooks in Boston. A lot of my friends that I got into trouble with at an early age went on to become cops. So, all that real-life experience, all that torture that I caused my parents, I was able to use."

Earlier in his career, Wahlberg played a number of smaller film roles before gaining notoriety for his role as a porn star in Boogie Nights. He says preparation for the role included at least one unusual experience.

"We visited a porn set, which was pretty bizarre. This guy's gotta perform in front of us, and we're all standing around with coffees in our hand, waiting for it to go down. It was just weird. It was uncomfortable."

One of the initial members of the bubblegum-pop group New Kids on the Block (with his brother Donnie), Wahlberg left before the group became famous. While his brother went on to stardom, Wahlberg continued his struggle with the law.

"I remember sitting in a rec room in the Plymouth House of Correction," he says. He'd been arrested for what he calls petty crimes.

"My brother and the rest of the New Kids came on TV, and they were performing, and I told this guy, 'Hey, that's my brother. ... I was in that group. I quit.' And he goes, 'And now you're here. You gotta be the dumbest guy that I ever met.'"

Later, however, with his brother's guidance, he overcame his juvenile problems and created Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and recorded the album Music for the People, which included the hit "Good Vibrations." Wahlberg went on to record one more album, and appeared in a number of Calvin Klein underwear commercials. The advertisements led him to at least one unexpected outcome of celebrity.

"When you would go to a concert of mine, you would look in the crowd that there would be a bunch of young girls and then there would be a bunch of grown up guys. And at first I'm thinking, Well, they're dads or something. But then they're coming up asking for me to sign pictures of me in my underwear, and I'm saying, 'OK, what's your daughter's name,' and they're saying, 'No, it's for me.'"

Wahlberg says though he initially felt uncomfortable with his gay following, he quickly overcame it.

Wahlberg's other films include Shooter, The Perfect Storm, Three Kings, The Italian Job and Rock Star.

This interview was first broadcast on February 8, 2007.

Copyright 2022 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.