Mark Wahlberg went from being the youngest of nine kids to street thug to rapper Marky Mark to mainstream movie star in record time. One minute he was half-naked above Times Square on Calvin Klein billboards, the next he was starring in films like Boogie Nights, Three Kings, and The Perfect Storm. But through every epoch, he's remained firmly rooted in home.
"Acting came naturally for me because of my ability to survive on the street in Boston," says Wahlberg. "I mean, I was always trying to convince somebody of something. It usually wasn't the truth. That's what acting is. As long as you believe it, then you feel like you can convince someone else. I learned how to survive. I was a troubled teen. You know, I was incarcerated for a while. Sometimes, I used to be jealous that I didn't get to go to a school where I could have played sports and gotten a better education. But I learned the really important things, the real life experience. That's what got me to where I am today. I credit that to growing up on the streets."
Today, he sits in a V-necked T-shirt and backward baseball cap in the Alfred Hitchcock Building at Universal Studios, doing some last-minute work on his new film, The Italian Job, a loose remake of the classic thriller that starred Michael Caine. But while Mark Wahlberg has gone A-List Hollywood, he remains, at heart, a kid from the streets of Boston, where, he says, every trip back home is a reality check. "They make a point to make me feel like I am no better than anybody else," he says. "It's nice, because you can get spoiled after a while. Back home, I remind myself of where I came from and where I hope to go back to."