A Candid Chat With Mark Wahlberg

ByABC News

Sept. 29, 2006 — -- Mark Wahlberg is no stranger to the red carpet ritual -- a sort of celebrity perp walk, with its oohs and ahs, the jostling behind the ropes. The limo doors open, the lights flash -- what is he thinking?

"I hope this is over quick," Wahlberg recalls.

At the New York opening of Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," Wahlberg is the first of the stars to walk the red wave, and Nightline co-anchor Cynthia McFadden came along for a taste of what it's like to be Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg spoke candidly about his troubled past, his careful choice of films, his real-life entourage, and his personal philosophy of golf.

"The Departed" is a remake of a popular Hong Kong thriller transposed to South Boston, not far from where Wahlberg grew up.

The intricate tale of betrayal finds Jack Nicholson playing a brutal Irish mob boss, while Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg play cops --some good, some not. The action is violent; the language, vulgar.

"Everybody in my house sounded like that. Everybody talked like that," he says. "We were doing the press junket and people were like, 'Oh my god, the way you swore, all the swears you said.' I was just, 'It was just normal.' That was how everybody talked."

The rage he channeled for the role comes from a very personal place -- the tough streets he was raised on in Dorchester, Mass. He led a life characterized by incidents of petty crime, drug dealing and racism.

He harassed a group of African American school kids with racist epithets, and when he was 16, again using racist language, he attacked a middle-aged Vietnamese man and left the man blind in one eye. Wahlberg was arrested for attempted murder, plead guilty to assault, and spent 45 days in jail.

And though the right thing to do would be to try to find the man and make amends, Wahlberg says, he admits he hasn't done so -- but says he's no longer burdened by guilt.

"I did a lot of things that I regretted and I certainly paid for my mistakes," Wahlberg says. "You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn't until I really started doing good and doing right, by other people as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don't have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning."

Wahlberg sleeps well, and he's doing well. His last film, "Invincible," opened last month and was number one at the box office. After numerous reincarnations as thug, rapper, and movie star, Wahlberg has successfully turned being Mark Wahlberg into a hit TV show: HBO's "Entourage."

"I always took my friends along for the ride," Wahlberg says. "You know, I was experiencing all of these amazing things and seeing new places and I didn't want to go alone. I was bored. So I took my friends and, uh, now it's a television show."

Wahlberg is the executive producer of "Entourage," based loosely -- some say not so loosely -- on his life. It follows the publicists, agents, assistants and friends who make their living orbiting a star.

"Some of it has happened to me or other people, but everybody in the business knows that it's pretty spot on when it comes to how the business is run and how things get done," Wahlberg says.

The show is irreverent: materialism, hedonism, sexism -- everybody gets skewered. And while the enticing peek into back-stage Hollywood is there, the series really seems to be about something else: male friendship.

"There aren't really many compliments flying around with me and my friends. It's a lot of tough love," Wahlberg says. "But you know, that love is there and if you need to have a serious conversation you just gotta wait for the right time to do it."

On the show, one of the entourage's biggest headaches is getting their star to his endless list of commitments. ABC News found out that at least this part of the show is true to life: on Tuesday, after "The Departed" premiere, one by one the stars arrived at the premiere party: Leo. Matt. Jack. But no Mark. We'd been stood up.

It's Wednesday afternoon and Wahlberg is teeing off at the world-class Bethpage Golf course, outside New York. Mark arrives (on time) with the real entourage in tow:

"The Dominator" -- Domenick Lombardozzi. A recurring cast member on the show's third season, and a friend of Wahlberg's for a decade.

"A great actor," Wahlberg says. "These guys are really good golfers but they gotta carry these guys' bags and watch them butcher up this beautiful golf course....Believe me, there's no etiquette with this group."

Lev -- Steve Levenson. Real life manager. He'll neither confirm nor deny that he is also represented on the show, though he's listed as a writer on many of its episodes.

"I made sure I was the best golfer in the group," Wahlberg says -- but Lev, he says, is second best.

And finally the real E -- Eric Weinstein. Mark's assistant, driver, friend. And professional shadow.

"He was working on 'The Basketball Diaries,' he was a consultant: he was teaching us how to shoot heroin. Me and Leo," Wahlberg says. "And I just thought he was one of the funniest guys I'd ever seen... he's been with me ever since."

Wahlberg brings the boys along for the ride but he takes his golf very seriously -- and very personally.

"The game makes you a better person," he says. "There are rules, etiquette, discipline, patience." Golf, he says, is about "attitude, bad temper and how to check it all at the door."

Wahlberg long had a problem with a temper, but now he is the image of calm. He isn't married, but he and his longtime girlfriend have two children -- one just six months old.

"It's a great time in my life," Wahlberg says. "Personally, professionally, I couldn't be happier."