EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a preview-only version of Mark Wahlberg's cover story in the May 2016 issue of Men's Fitness. For the full story, including exclusive content, click here to download the issue now or pick up a copy on newsstands now.
Over the course of his 25-year career, Mark Wahlberg has redefined “reinvention,” going from musician to underwear model to actor to leading man to, ultimately, one of Hollywood’s most versatile stars and megaproducers. Now he’s kicking ass in a whole new arena: that of an entrepreneurial powerhouse.
Wahlburgers, the hamburger chain he launched with his brothers Paul and Donnie—and turned into an A&E reality show by the same name—is blowing up, with seven locations and another 100 planned. AquaHydrate, the fitness water company he fronts with Sean Combs, is gobbling up market share. And this month Wahlberg will launch his most personal venture yet: a “clean” supplement company called Performance Inspired. (He’s not the only big name involved—ultrafit golfer Rory McIlroy is attached to the company, too.) Check out the video, featuring Walhberg, at the end of this article.
Built on Walberg’s experience beefing up his physique for films like Lone Survivor, The Fighter, and Transformers, Performance Inspired is no mere “endorsement” for the star. Every free moment he has, he’s hustling for the brand—researching the competition, working the phones, and reaching out to distributors. Yet somehow he does all this and his day job: He recently wrapped Deepwater Horizon, about the 2010 BP oil spill, and is now filming Patriots Day, about the Boston Marathon bombing. And after that it’s the next Transformers movie, with director Michael Bay.
So how does a superstar, superproducer, and nascent business mogul—not to mention father of four—even find the time to play golf, much less with a 300-yard swing? We caught up with him in the Hollywood Hills, still sporting an oil-rig worker’s goatee, to talk about his drive on and off the golf course.
He might be a rookie in the supplements industry, but he's playing to win.
"The great thing about my partner Tom Dowd is that he worked for 25 years at GNC and helped build some of the greatest products out there. We see how the space is growing. [We're] creating a product line that wasn’t out there yet. I’ve always been adamant about being natural, no matter what I was doing—training, putting on weight, losing weight. So this is an all-natural product— nothing that can give you a bad reaction. Student athletes can take it, collegiate athletes—you never have to worry."
At first, he wasn't so sure about Wahlburgers.
"My brother Paul is an amazing chef. But when he started getting this idea to build a Wahlburgers, I was like, 'Paul, I worked way too hard to build my own brand, and I don’t want to go putting our name on a burger place. I said, 'Just call it Paul’s, and I’ll finance it and help you however you want.' It just sounded bad right away.
"[But] I thought about it. I love working with my brothers, and I love business.... So I said, 'If we’re going to put it out there, then we’re going full steam ahead—we’re going to build something to pass from generation to generation.' I wanted to put rocket fuel on this, to put visibility on this restaurant that no other could have. So we decided to do a show."
Wahlberg and his brother Paul / photo by Brian Babineau.
He's constantly training (or not) for his next movie.
"I’m about to play a cop with a bad knee [for Patriots Day]. So I can go back to a little bit of a belly. Then I’m gonna have my work cut out for me, because I gotta get into Transformers shape. And Michael Bay’s definitely got too much time and money spent CGI-ing robots, so he’s not gonna CGI muscle on me. I’ll just have to start working out as we get closer to the end of Patriots Day. But right now I’m just eating whatever I want, getting ready for the movie, playing a lot of golf."
His new golf habit started with the guys from Entourage.
"I went out with Johnny 'Drama' [Alves] and Ari [Emanuel], because they kind of forced me to. I was like, 'OK, I’ll drive around in the cart and have a beer.' I never really considered it a sport. They were hitting balls and playing, so I was like, 'Let me try that.' I couldn’t even hit the ball. So I kind of became obsessed—'I gotta figure this out.' And soon I started planning all my shit around golf. Then it was like, 'I gotta calm down.' I realized I wasn’t gonna become a professional golfer.
When Pope Francis visited the U.S., he had no idea who Wahlberg was.
"I don’t think he’s watched television since the early ’80s. [But] it was very special. I was asked to introduce him. I hate speaking in front of people. But I realized, I gotta do this. He’s an amazing guy and is bringing the church into the new century. I really like what he’s focusing on. I know a lot of people from other faiths and other walks of life who really like what he’s doing, too."
For the full story, including exclusive content, click here to download the issue now or pick up a copy on newsstands now. Find out more about Performance Inspired here and check out the video, featuring Wahlberg, below.