For his role as pro boxer Micky Ward in The Fighter, he employed a heavy dose of fight training—a style he now uses to work himself into shape for every role. "There's really nothing more demanding than boxing training," he says, noting that slimming down for Ted "meant playing basketball and doing serious cardio."
Wahlberg's seamless transition from serious action roles into comedy doesn't surprise anyone these days—especially Ted's director, Seth MacFarlane. "Mark is really the only guy who could play this role," the Family Guy creator told me during a phone interview, sounding a lot like Brian Griffin.
MacFarlane went on to say that he wanted Wahlberg for the lead actor in his directorial debut because the role "required the delicacy of a comedic performance that would be funny but wouldn't take it too far into the unreal." In fact, according to MacFarlane, "Mark gives a hilarious performance that's vulnerable and real."
The tone on set was one of collaboration and good humor. MacFarlane noted that Wahlberg and Mila Kunis did "a lot of laughing together." The bottom line for MacFarlane, and studio execs, however, has to be that, as MacFarlane himself told me, "Mark made the difference between this movie sinking or swimming."
Wahlberg is very proud of the film, though he downplays his own performance in favor of simply saying that he believes "Ted will reach a much larger audience than any of my other films because it's a very creative project that will surprise a lot of people."
He also downplays the massive transformation he had to undergo for his upcoming role in Pain and Gain (about a pair of real-life Florida bodybuilders trapped in an extortion ring). "I had two months to get into shape for the role, I was pounding heavy weight, and I packed on about 40 pounds for it," Wahlberg told me, also mentioning that he crafted his own program to gain the muscle.
All told, he went from 165 pounds to a thick 205, likely his most muscular ever. He used his preparation for the role as a challenge to best his efforts in years past: "I wanted to surpass the goals I had when I was younger—right now I'm benching 335."
Check out the secret fat-shredding pill some Hollywood guy are using keeping in top action-hero form.
But he's also keenly aware that the demands on his body to maintain such size greatly increase his risk for injuries. He hopes in the future to always "stay around 180-to-185 [pounds], train regularly with athletic moves, and have no real aches and pains at all." He'll be on that path at the time you're reading this, as he's leaning down again for the upcoming film 2 Guns with Denzel Washington.