"Contraband" star Mark Wahlberg is the ultimate tough guy onscreen, but put him in front of a heart-tugging drama like "The Help" and the action star melts into a teary heap. "I'm the father of two boys and two girls, so I'm more an emotional wreck than a mushball," he tells Redbook in its March issue. "Let's put it this way, I watched 'The Help' with my wife [Rhea], and I cried seven or eight times during the movie. And [my wife] Rhea made fun of me."
If that wasn't enough, Wahlberg goes on to admit "I was bawling my eyes out" during Disney's Rapunzel reboot, "Tangled." His defense? "It's about a girl who gets taken away from her parents."
Living in a household with three females — Wahlberg and his wife's two daughters and two sons range in age from 2 to 8 — could be the reason the former Marky Mark has gotten so soft on us. "Having two daughters changed my perspective on a lot of things, and I definitely have a newfound respect for women," says the 40-year-old who was arrested more than 20 times while growing up in Boston, including once for beating a man so severely he went blind in one eye (Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder for the incident). "And I think I finally became a good and real man when I had a daughter."
But all that changes when Daddy goes to work, especially in his new action flick, "Contraband," about an ex-smuggler who re-enters a life of crime in order to protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord. Despite the shoot-'em-up premise, the core of the film — family — is what attracted Wahlberg to it.
"I like to do projects I feel some connection to," the Oscar nom tells Redbook. "My character is forced into circumstances where he has to do the right thing for his family. For me, family always comes first; I would do anything to protect them. And even though I turned my life around, my friends and I are very much involved with the everyday hustles and struggles of the real world."