Mark Wahlberg doesn't Really have a problem getting people to listen to him. . . most of the time. We’re high in theHollywood Hills; crows circle overhead andLA seethes below on a near-40˚ day inOctober. Wahlberg, 46, in dark jeans and Air Jordans and wearing a 16-carat gold cross,is trying to explain the per-square-foot cost of putting a family-owned Wahlburgers restaurant in Times Square when his phone rings. “It’s Ari. I’ve got to take it,” says Wahlberg, apologetically mentioning his agent, the real-life version of the character played by Jeremy Piven in the Wahlberg helmed series Entourage.
I can only hear Wahlberg’s side. “Okay, is this gonna happen or is this an Ari special?”he asks with a sly grin. “Well, good, I’m glad the mixing is going well, but that doesn’t mean take the foot off the pedal. Let’s pushdown on the gas . . . He’s good, but you have to push him . . . Ari, listen, I only got you for 30 seconds. We’ve got to move from left field to right field.” Wahlberg sighs and looks up toward the crows. “When you know, call me back.
”He apologises for the interruption and gets back to what we were talking about: how he keeps things fresh when he could be taking his foot off the gas. His last movie, the Ridley Scott–directed thriller All the Money in the world, was his 43rd. “It’s work ethic, it’s something I’ve always had.” He mentions his four kids growing up in a much different world than his smash-and-grab Dorchester, Massachusetts. “They’re only going to learn it if they see it from me.”
But not everyone listens to Mark Wahlberg. You see, he’s got kids. Last year, a mini scandal arose when Wahlberg was seen leaving the Super Bowl before his beloved Patriots mounted their historic comeback. At the time, he told reporters he had a sick son who needed to get back to their hotel. That’s partly true. The Wahlberg family was watching the game in a luxury suite in Houston’s NRG Stadium while the Patriots were getting pounded. Wahlberg and Rhea Durham’s second son, 8-year-old Brendan, was not handling it well at all.
“He was spitting out F-bombs and going crazy. It was bad,” says Wahlberg, shuddering as if he’s reliving the moment. “He was lying down on the carpet. He was very upset.” Rhea wanted to stay, but Wahlberg wasn’t having it and left with his boy.
I ask Wahlberg if his son learned a valuable lesson about not giving up on your team, and he laughs. “Heck no. He’s a vicious sore loser.He wants the ball. He hates when his brother gets it. When he doesn’t get the ball, he goes crazy. He throws rocks.”
Brendan’s older brother, Mikey, is in the football playoffs this weekend, and Dad is pretty stoked. He pulls out his phone and shows video of Mikey taking a handoff, breaking into the open, and running for a touchdown. You can see Wahlberg doing security in the end zone.
“It’s crazy because all his teammates came to greet him, and they’re like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ AndI’m like, ‘Excuse me?’ ”
Wahlberg has tried to get his kids into golf,but they like the rough stuff. “I tell them golf and baseball are the two sports where they have the best chance for a long career, but they want to play football.
”In a twist, it’s his wife who’s more excited about football. “She thinks they’re gonna go pro, and I’m like they have to have something to fall back on.” To hear the former wild boy talk of the importance of education is striking. Letting his kids play tackle football at all wasn’t a decision he and his wife made lightly. He took his sons to see the movie Concussion twice and had NFL players stop by the house to talk with his sons about the pain and risks of the sport. In the end, his sons’ passion won out.
“What can I say?” Wahlberg says with ash rug. “They love it.
”Wahlberg has some unique motivational techniques available for Mikey. He pushes a button on his phone and there’s Julian Edelman of the Patriots congratulating him on his jersey selection – Edelman’s number 11– and urging him on.
“Mikey, I see you’re wearing the sticks and looking good in it. Good luck in the playoffs. Go Pats. Do some work, buddy. Do some work.”
For the full story, pick up a copy of the June issue of Men's Health, in-store Monday 14th May