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The Religious Affiliation of singer, film actor
Mark Wahlberg


From our reading of various interviews with Mark Wahlberg, it appears that he comes from a Catholic background, and after his acting career was in high gear, he made some headlines with his re-dedication to his Catholic faith.

It has been reported that Wahlberg became a Buddhist in 2005 after making the Buddhist-themed movie "I Heart Huckabees."

Apparently there have been reports that Mark Wahlberg converted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. These reports appear to have originated with an article written by Mike Szymanski (Zap2it.com), who misinterpreted an interview with Wahlberg, and incorrectly identified the actor's religious affiliation. Apparently Wahlberg is a devout Catholic and in no way a Seventh-day Adventist. The reporter corrected the article, but both the corrected and the original versions have been re-published and posted in various places.

These are preliminary findings, however. For more up-to-date information on this subject, consult Mark Wahlberg.

Mark Wahlberg is one of 14 celebrity Buddhists assessed in Armstrong's article "Celebrities who are Buddhists... with an assessment of the degree Buddhism is a part of each of their careers." Mark Wahlberg was ranked 9th highest on the list in terms of the proportion of web hits (google.com: 0.8%) and current news article hits (news.google.com: 1.1%) mentioning him which also contain either the word "Buddhism" or "Buddhist." From: Tom Armstrong, "Celebrities who are Buddhists... with an assessment of the degree Buddhism is a part of each of their careers", 8 March 2005 in Zen Unbound Emagazine (http://www.zenunbound.com/celebbuds.html; viewed 18 August 2005):

The contrast this past year can seem to prove the charge. The quite serious Catholic, Mel Gibson, makes a bloody serious film -- so serious it is even in Aramaic!... Meantime, Buddhadom kicks up "I Heart Huckabees," with a goofy icon substituted for the word Heart, Lily Tomlin upsidedown in a dumpster, and a lot of self-indulgent weirdness and with a peevish sense of irony/humor. If you don't laugh heartily enough at Jude Law screwing up his face, or Mark Wahlberg bopping Jason Schwartzman with a red rubber bat on the picnic-table bench, people might guess that you just don't get it -- that you aren't sophisticated enough to see that the Emperor is wearing new clothes, and not no clothes. [Actually, I liked "Huckabees" -- a lot -- but it was still a jokey mess that reflected badly on Buddhism and New Age madness and whatever else got splattered in this slipshod film.]

...Mark Wahlberg very recently became Buddhist, a result of his involvement with "I Heart Huckabees."

From: Mike Szymanski, "Mark Wahlberg's Newfound Conservatism Doesn't Curb 'Rock Star'", Zap2It.com, 4 September 2001, posted on "Mark Wahlberg In The News" website (http://www.geocities.com/lmwong1977/marknews38.html#Zap2It; viewed 25 July 2005):

Mark Wahlberg's looking a bit conservative these days. The guy who has posed in his underwear for Calvin Klein billboards strutting his funky bunch as hip-hopper Marky Mark and later wining accolades for "revealing all" playing a porn star in "Boogie Nights" is dressed in a pressed white shirt, a neat black jacket and short cropped hair.

"I'm looking for a house in L.A. that my Mom and I can move into," the 30-year-old actor says in all seriousness. "And, right now in my life it would be really tough for me to make a movie like "Boogie Nights" again."

Although he feels like he has had to take risks earlier in his career with more explicit and edgy films like "Boogie Nights," he hasn't need to be as physically revealing in his latest feel-good, based-on-a-true story Warner Bros. film "Rock Star."

"Like with this movie, there's not too much graphic drug-use and stuff like that, or real nudity," Wahlberg muses. "I can push the envelope without having to push it in that direction. I just got to do more dramatic stuff."

Wahlberg is concerned about his nine nieces and nephews and how he will look in their eyes. He's also re-devoted himself to his Roman Catholic roots -- carrying rosary bears and becoming more conscious of moralistic church values.

That doesn't mean that in his conversation with Zap2it.com, the 30-year-old refrains from peppering his language with four-letter words which have been deleted. At one point when queried about how he hates being called "Marky Mark" he tells Zap2it "You can call me Marky, you can call me your bitch if you want to."

Despite the obvious references to drugs, hard rock-and-roll and wild sex parties shown in "Rock Star," Wahlberg feels his ultra-religious Catholic family can now be proud of him with his movie choices.

"I'm pretending to be an actor," he says, being purposefully self-effacing as he leans back in his chair. "It's been working so far. When I first mentioned the idea of my being an actor, people just chuckled, but now they say, 'Well, maybe he can really do it.'"

Two actors-turned-directors Penny Marshall and Danny DeVito have served as his mentors and advisors in his acting arena. He worked with both on "Renaissance Man" and went on to do "The Basketball Diaries," "Fear," "The Big Hit" and "Traveller."

"I didn't want to go back to music because I was being pushed and pulled in all the wrong directions for all the wrong reasons," Wahlberg reflects." I knew that in order to succeed you've got to be really careful and make the right choices and join yourself to really talented people."

His big movies with new young directors, "Three Kings," with director David O. Russell, "The Yards" with director James Gray and "Boogie Nights" with Paul Thomas Anderson have earned him the highest praise, and ironically he's working on upcoming movies with all three of those directors. But, they know he now has limitations.

"I'm kind of getting back to where I feel most comfortable," admits Wahlberg, who just finished a re-make of the Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn romance "Charade" called "The Truth About Charlie." He's proud of his work in big budget blockbusters such as "The Perfect Storm" and "Planet of the Apes," as well.

"It's not about the commercial success, I got to work with one of the most talented directors of all time," Wahlberg says about working with "Apes" director Tim Burton. "It was an opportunity to work with a really interesting filmmaker. And, I'll do the sequel only if Tim's involved again."

In his latest, "Rock Star" Wahlberg plays the part of a singer in a local copycat band who is tapped to join the hardcore rock band of his dreams. Based loosely on the story of Judas Priest -- when Rob Halford left the band and came out as gay, and was then replaced by a fan/singer -- the story includes a girlfriend, played by Jennifer Aniston, who tries to stick by him as he becomes more and more famous in the rock scene and she becomes more and more insignificant in his life.

Wahlberg knows that scene gets old pretty quickly, as he pokes fun at the Rolling Stones.

"It's a bit of an adrenaline rush, but it's a drug that wears off quick," he says about being a rock star. "You want more, and you want more. Next thing you know you're like Mick Jagger and you're still out there, and you don't want to see that, you know what I mean?"

Now, Wahlberg's tired of being referred to as the bad boy who's making it good as an actor.

"I would prefer people to talk about what I'm doing now and what I'm planning to do in the future as opposed to constantly going back to 'bad boy of the streets,' 'rapper turned actor,' 'post Marky Mark.' I want to inspire people, the kids that are looking to me for day-to-day hope and inspiration," says Wahlberg. "These kids are out there in the street. If I want to get to them and really share my story with them, then I've got go out there and share it with them directly."

He's offered advice to his older brother Donnie ("The Sixth Sense"), who started acting after Mark. "I offered him a little bit of advice, but we were more concerned with our relationship as brothers. We'd had a professional relationship early on, and it really took its toll not only on our relationship as brothers, but on our entire family, so we just kind of went back to basics. There were a couple of bad things that I had been offered, and I passed on them and they went right to him."

In the case of "Rock Star" the part was originally cast for Brad Pitt, and ironically after he passed (because he couldn't agree on a director), Pitt's wife Aniston took the part opposite Wahlberg.

Director Stephen Herek describes Wahlberg as "serious and diligent" in researching the part, and screenwriter John Stockwell says, "Mark knows how to connect with the audience, and he was worried that there was going to be some backlash (when doing the concert scenes with live hard rock fans in the audience), because they hated him when he was Marky Mark. He stood for everything they were against, and there was a lot of hostility."

At home, Wahlberg doesn't listen to rock. "It's a complete turn-off to me," he says. "That was something that was appealing about the script, because for me to pull it off and be believable as one of these guys is something most people wouldn't see right off the bat. But I've been listening to a little bit since."

He liked earlier stuff, The Animals, Blue Oyster Cult, but the hard stuff, well, Wahlberg groans, "it's still a little much for me to take." After throat surgery following troubles during "The Perfect Storm," Wahlberg worried about not being able to sing the loud-screeching songs. He ended up doing most of the singing, and even did a fall from the stage.

"Yes, he did a lot of that fall, he was a trooper," says director Herek. "He did the start of the tumble and the end, that was him. But, for insurance purposes most of the fall was done by a stunt man."

His co-star, Jennifer Aniston, believably plays someone he's known since childhood. "We just clicked together, we both felt really strongly about the material," he says. "We went a little crazy in that disco scene, though," he laughs about their wild night of partying with the band.

Directors enjoy working with Wahlberg, and he figures it's because he takes chances.

"A lot of actors are too scared to do anything, especially after they have any sort of success. They've got a career at a certain level and they don't want to mess around with that," Wahlberg gulps as he's about to dis a superstar. "A guy like Tom Cruise can go and play a supporting role, and come back and do a lot of big things. But most actors who are trying to get to that level aren't willing to venture off, whereas to me it's an opportunity to be in interesting films. I'd rather be in five movies like that than 20 movies that make $200 million dollars that no one will remember."

An admitted research freak, Wahlberg says he did dive into the role (although not like going to porn shoots like he did for "Boogie Nights" which he says "was a bit extreme.") "I was hanging out with a lot of bands, I went to a lot of concerts," Wahlberg recalls. "The big thing for me was figuring out how these guys moved. Once I could pull that off, I figured the rest of it would kind of fall into place."

What didn't fall into place was his hair. He says his real hair went down to his nipples, and then he had hair extensions put in for almost half a year.

"I hated it, I couldn't wait to get that hair off of my head," Wahlberg says. "It was not fun. But you know, when you put on the clothes, it helps. You put on the tight pants, and the hair, that helped me."

The whole ensemble, he says, is what inspired him to ad lib the line in the film about "your dreams are written for you" -- a mantra that seems appropriate now for Wahlberg.

He recalls the days when pre-pubescent girls clamored for his attention. In "Rock Star" he re-lives some of that, with somewhat different moments.

"One major difference this time is the audience," he laughs. "Before there were 13-year-old girls and their parents. Now there are 40-year-old guys. Similarities? Well, I was irresponsible, like a lot of these guys are. There are a lot of guys who are responsible, but for the most part these guys are just f***ing off and doing what they want to do and getting wasted. And I was doing the same thing."

Wahlberg pauses, and takes a deep breath in reflection. "It was really bad. The discipline I have for making movies has really helped me a lot. Personally."

From: Mike Szymanski, "No More Boogie Nights for Marky Mark: The Seventh Day Adventist says he'll avoid graphic roles from now on", on BeliefNet.com, 17 August 2001 (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/86/story_8633_1.html; viewed 25 July 2005):
Los Angeles, Aug. 17--Mark Wahlberg, the bad-boy hip-hopper-turned-actor, who is playing a heavy metal rocker in his upcoming film "Rock Star," says his newfound religious beliefs and his family would keep him from doing sexually explicit films again.

Wahlberg, who has been in trouble with the law in his rowdy younger days, and was known as Marky Mark during his singing days, is now a Seventh Day Adventist along with most of his family. He made a splash in his film career by working with newcomer director Paul Thomas Anderson in the film "Boogie Nights" where he played a rather well-endowed porn star. "I had to go to a few porn sets, and I wasn't too thrilled about that," Wahlberg laughs. "That was a bit too much."

Wahlberg talked at the Century Plaza Hotel to Zap2it.com about his new Warner Bros. movie. In "Rock Star," he plays a singer, part of a copycat tribute band, who ends up getting caught in the wild sex-and-drugs world of a mid-1980s hard rock band.

He says he's proud of his role in the film, in which he co-stars with Jennifer Aniston. "I have nine nieces and nephews I have to answer to and at this stage of the game it would be hard to make a movie like `Boogie Nights' and I would do nothing graphic," Walhberg says. "I do care. I am concerned, especially in these kids' eyes, it would be tough to do something like that again," Wahlberg says about his best role. "I'd have to do some thinking, I was trying to prove myself as an actor then and not thinking of them."

Wahlberg expects to do more dramatic roles, and will be working with director Anderson on another movie. Meanwhile, he's looking for a house in Los Angeles and will live there with his mother.

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Webpage created 25 July 2005. Last modified 14 September 2005.
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