A Candid Chat With Mark Wahlberg

ByABC News
September 29, 2006, 6:52 PM

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."