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Role Recall: Mark Wahlberg on 'Boogie Nights,' 'Three Kings' and More

Kevin Polowy

Mark Wahlberg's come a long way since his days as a member of The Funky Bunch. The Boston native has been a serious actor — enough with those tired Marky Mark jokes — for two decades now. The actor has demonstrated an impressive range: he's as comfortable in comedies like Ted as he is in big-budget action movies. In this week's Transformers: Age of Extinction (which fall under the latter category) he plays a Texas inventor who joins Optimus Prime and company in their ongoing war against the Decepticons.

Wahlberg talked to Yahoo Movies and shared memories of five of his most memorable roles.

Boogie Nights (1997)

Starting with its triumphant Toronto and New York film-festival premieres, Paul Thomas Anderson's porn-industry drama has been lauded by critics and moviegoers alike. One notable dissenting opinion, though, was voiced by a member of the movie's stellar ensemble cast. According Wahlberg, his Oscar-nominated co-star Burt Reynolds "hated" the film.

Wahlberg — who says "every moment of that movie is memorable" — explained how Reynolds initially wanted to give his porn producer character Jack Horner an Irish accent. He recalled the first scene they shot together, in which Horner discovers Dirk Diggler in the kitchen of a San Fernando Valley nightclub. Anderson had warned Wahlberg that Reynolds didn't "understand the rhythm of the writing," and wanted to try the accent during a rehearsal shoot. Wahlberg laughed at Reynolds' Irish embellishments, "because I thought he was messing around… He didn't like that too much."

Anderson would eventually ask Reynolds to lose the accent. Still, Wahlberg has nothing but praise for his colleague — "Burt was fantastic in the movie… one of the great performances of all time" — but maintains the Smokey and the Bandit star may have cost himself some industry good will: "He would've won the Oscar had he not dug such a hole for himself."

Three Kings (1999)

The on-set feud between director David O. Russell and star George Clooney on this Gulf War satire has been well-documented — things got so heated that the two traded blows, with Clooney saying he nearly killed Russell. Wahlberg, who played the Detroit soldier Troy Barlow, downplayed the tensions, remembering he and co-star Ice Cube avoided it by playing football and video games. “It’s unfortunate for both of them how that thing came out, because they were both just trying their best to make the best version of the movie possible.”

The Perfect Storm (2000)

Wolfgang Petersen’s seafaring thriller was a big hit, and reunited Wahlberg with his Kings costar Clooney and Boogie Nights co-star John C. Reilly. But shooting the movie, in which Wahlberg portrayed real-life fisherman Bobby Shatford, was an ordeal: "It was very hectic, you were basically like a wet rat for 120 days."

The Departed (2006)

Wahlberg received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role as a grouchy Massachusetts state trooper Sgt. Sean Dignam in Martin Scorsese's powerhouse mobster-cop thriller. He loved playing a “not-giving-a-s—t kind of guy” and quite enjoyed sharing a memorable scene with Jack Nicholson. As for the rumor that Nicholson refused to wear a Red Sox hat for the role? “Jack can do whatever Jack wants — He’s Jack, baby.”

The Fighter (2010)

Wahlberg reteamed with Three Kings director Russell for this passion project that in which he starred as boxer Micky Ward and also developed and produced; he earned a second Oscar nod when the movie was up for Best Picture honors. The actor is particularly proud of the accuracy of the boxing scenes — utilizing the HBO crew and camera setups from the original fights – and the conditioning which allowed him to shoot through 12-hour days, while the pro fighters he faced “couldn’t get out of bed” the next day. Slam.