MF Icon: Mark Wahlberg
He doesn't just bang it long on the golf course. The former rapper (and underwear model) also has his "A" game going in Hollywood, at home, and in the gym. And he's swinging for more.
By the time Wahlberg started shooting The Other Guys in New York City, he had wrapped up the boxing scenes for The Fighter (or so he thought) and wanted to put on weight for one last scene that would feature a past-his-prime Ward. For the first time in three years, Wahlberg stopped training and started eating. “He put on so much weight—like 30 pounds of fat,” laughs Nguyen. “I mean, he was having a whole bottle of wine at night and doughnuts at the craft table.” Shortly after wrapping The Other Guys and the “fat scene,” Nguyen got a call from The Fighter production team. “They had to do reshoots for some fight scenes and were like, ‘How long do you need, three weeks?’ ” Nguyen recalls. “I was like, ‘Three weeks! We’ve been doing nothing!’ ” He persuaded them to give him five. The next morning, Wahlberg was in the gym at 5 a.m., putting in the first of his five-days-a-week, four-hour training sessions. The pair kicked off each morning with 45 minutes of deep-tissue work—deep-muscle stimulation, foam rolling, and massage work. They followed that with an hour of mobility and flexibility warm-up drills, which led into the main workout—45 minutes of strength training mixed with cardio. “It was all short bursts of really hard work with minimal rest in between,” Nguyen says. After a few minutes’ rest, the pair would jump into the ring for four to six rounds of sparring and finish the morning with some jump rope or cardio-pumping football and basketball drills.
Wahlberg allows himself two weekly off-days—usually Thursday and Sunday—each devoted to his other most important priorities, golf and family (though not in that order). Sundays are family days while his Thursday golf games usually get him home by the time his two eldest kids—Ella, 6, and Michael, 4—arrive home from school. Having grown up the youngest of nine in the Dorchester section of Boston, Wahlberg claims that his decision to have a big family really “came down to finding the right woman.” He’s been with Durham since 2001, and she gave birth to their fourth child, Grace, in January 2010. “Having children and being married definitely plays a part in the choices I make and the roles I take,” Wahlberg says. “I’ve always wanted to be more behind the scenes anyway. I want to build a business. Having a [acting] career is great, but careers don’t last forever. A business can.” His current responsibilities keep him from golfing as often as he’d like. But Wahlberg plans to retire one day and “play all the time.” It’s a passion he picked up about 10 years ago that quickly became an obsession. “It’s hard to play with him,” Nguyen says. “He’s a big hitter. His driver is long and straight, so automatically you’re like, ‘I’ve gotta chase it.’ You’re losing a ball right off the get-go.”
Wahlberg realized a golfer’s dream in April 2010 when he got to play on the famed Augusta National on the day after the Masters. “It was incredible,” he says. His dream foursome? “Tiger, Phil, and the real Johnny Drama there for comedy.” (The role of Entourage character Drama is loosely based on his cousin, John Alves.) No doubt, Wahlberg would step to the first tee with trash for Tiger and Phil, too. Nguyen says: “His competitive nature comes out no matter what. If you do well on one hole, don’t think he’s gonna let up.” Wahlberg isn’t letting up in the gym anytime soon either. “I worked so hard to get in shape, I might as well maintain it,” he says. Nguyen’s goal during the downtime is to get Wahlberg to continue to embrace functional exercises he derisively calls “my Jane Fonda bullshit,” such as kettlebell swings, burpees, and side planking. “We’re doing full-body stuff all the time,” Nguyen says. “He’s bought into it now, so I’m hoping we can do even more. That way, whatever any of his upcoming characters do, he’ll be ready.”