Mark Wahlberg’s focus and committment learned as a student of bodybuilding, turned him into a Hollywood heavyweight. And now he’s a supplement industry mogul following the success of his all-natural line, Performance Inspired.
The American hero can be a laughable fraud when presented on the silver screen. Often it’s a casting mistake, where Ken Dolls with luscious wavy hair and sculpted cheekbones are passed on as lethal badasses, when audiences know they’re likely to get their hands dirty only when slicing up shitake mushrooms for their quinoa salads.
SEE ALSO: Mark Wahlberg Beefs Up for Pain & Gain
We like our heroes with sweat on their brows and dirt under their fingernails; the ordinary man—quiet, decent—who performs heroic feats when thrust into extraordinary situations. The ideal actor for such a role may be called a “Mark Wahlberg type.”
Unpretentious and likable, Mark Wahlberg has cornered the market to star in Hollywood’s top gritty, realistic dramas. The 45-year-old Boston native’s recent lm, Deepwater Horizon, is an ideal example of his ability to inhabit the role of a hard-working laborer forced into a crisis when the oil rig he works on in the Gulf of Mexico explodes. When Wahlberg stars in a film “based on a true story,” you believe it is.
Besides his considerable talents as an actor, Wahlberg cements his credibility in these blue-collar roles by actually looking like he works for a living: sporting broad shoulders, thick arms, cut abs, while displaying the natural grace and agility of an athlete. Wahlberg’s range and ability to utilize his physicality to enrich the transformative demands of his craft are on display in both dramas and comedies, Wahlberg being one of those rare actors who can genre skip without missing a beat. His latest release, Patriots Day, where he plays a Boston police sergeant in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, is a role that fits him like Spanx on a Kardashian.
Wahlberg’s reputation as a reliable performer who chooses his projects well wasn’t built overnight. A bankable star who continues to broaden his fan base with memorable lead and supporting roles, Wahlberg has the type of biography that might sound implausible if it were pitched as a script, and it’s easy to imagine it someday will be.
Wahlberg’s hardscrabble youth led him into dark places that haunted him for years. As a teenager roaming the streets of Dorchester, one of Boston’s toughest neighborhoods, he was briefly swallowed up by a criminal underworld that earned him multiple arrests and a stint in a local juvenile facility. Such beginnings rarely end well, but after the intervention of a local priest and the support of loved ones, including older brother Donnie (who brought Mark into New Kids on the Block for three months), the troubled young man found his way into the jungles of Tinseltown and thrived.
Today Wahlberg is a faith-driven family man, a counterintuitive lifestyle for the creator/ executive producer of HBO hits Entourage, a program about a sybaritic towel-snapping group of Hollywood bros living the dream, and Ballers, a comedy about the excesses of the private lives of professional football players that stars Dwayne Johnson.
Wahlberg’s quick rise after his hoodlum days is just the type of sudden fame that leads to TMZ-documented perp walks, but he didn’t pull himself out of the mean streets of Boston to lose himself in the narcotic haze of Lohanville. He learned the hard way that life is not to be wasted; it’s to be lived to the fullest with an emphasis on working your ass o to make the most of your potential.
Many of those lessons he absorbed in the gym. Success isn’t a lightning bolt from the sky; it’s an accretion of daily achievements. While his faith kept him centered and humble, Wahlberg’s dedication to the fitness lifestyle taught him how small goals lead to larger triumphs. At first, he wasn’t taken seriously by top critics and casting directors when he made the transition to actor, but now he’s an indispensable part of the Hollywood elite as an Oscar-nominated performer (The Departed) and executive producer (Boardwalk Empire, Lone Survivor). Even when duking it out with an anthropomorphic teddy bear (Ted and Ted 2), Wahlberg displays an athleticism unusual for A-listers, and his bulging, sculpted arms are a key sign that his muscularity isn’t just for show.
A student of bodybuilding, Wahlberg has long admired the simplicity of great, hardcore workouts, eschewing boutiques, boxes, and WODs for old-school weight training. It was a passion most evident in Pain & Gain, where Wahlberg played a bodybuilder with a heart of Winstrol who gets in over his head in an extortion scheme with fellow meatheads played by Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie.
Wahlberg’s commitment to the fitness lifestyle led him to partner with Tom Dowd, a longtime veteran of the supplement industry, to launch Performance Inspired, a brand that produces all-natural workout and recovery supplements. Currently on Performance Inspired’s roster are pre-workout and whey protein, but expect protein bars, a post-workout BCAA, and creatine in the near future. PI’s goal was to remove the guesswork for everyday lifters by avoiding the use of any synthetic ingredients or misleading claims. In other words, Performance Inspired is a supps company created by a gym rat that can help ordinary guys to achieve extraordinary feats in the gym.
Wahlberg is once again playing the hero, a role we hope he continues to play.