Mark Wahlberg Talks Success, Fatherhood And Burgers

A quick chat with the Deepwater Horizon actor

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Sat in the middle of his London hotel room, Mark Wahlberg jumps to greet anyone that enters. 

Not exactly shy but quietly composed, he speaks with long pauses for thought between words. 

"I'm not as interesting on my own," he says, jokingly lamenting director Pete Berg who has just left.

The pair have worked together on a growing list of films based on real life events: Lone Survivor which recounts how Navy SEALs took out a Taliban leader, Deepwater Horizon based on the huge spill from a BP oil rig and forthcoming Patriots Day tracking the events after the Boston bombing. 

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Esquire sat with the artist formerly known as Marky Mark to talk about those films, bulking up for roles and what good advice life has given him.

Pete Berg recently said he thinks "real stories are better and stranger than fiction". Do you agree?

I'm certainly fascinated by true stories. I've made lots of different movies but these are the ones I always feel drawn to. There's a lot of pressure when the man you're pretending to be is standing next to you and watching your every move.

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A lot of the films you've made together concern everyday American heroes. Is this a good time to talk about what 'being American means', given the current election?

All three of those films are really about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. What is going on in America as a whole right now feels like something else. We'll wait to see what happens with the election. Remember, it could always be worse.

The character you play in Deepwater Horizon is a devoted father. How has having kids changed your life?

Mike is a man whose main objective is to get home to his family. I can relate to that as I'm away from my wife and children a lot. When you become a father you either change drastically or you're gonna go towards the dark side. Having happy healthy kids is how I measure success.

You own a burger chain in America and Canada. How did that come about?

My brother is a chef and he came to me with this idea for a burger restaurant, which I was up for. Then he told me it was called Wahlburgers so I said, "Absolutely not." But I realised it was the chance to work with all my brothers, so now we've got 11 of them and more coming.

You've had to bulk up or gain weight for lots of roles, including The FighterDo you enjoy the physical side of acting?

Bulking up can be a struggle. It becomes more and more difficult to quickly lose or gain weight for roles. In an ideal world I'd maintain a healthy diet, but it's part of my job so I've just accepted it. People spend too much time talking about what they're doing to prepare for roles. But I've probably been guilty of that myself on a few occasions.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

I was given a lot of advice when I was younger that I ignored. It taught me how important listening was.

Deepwater Horizon is released in cinemas across the UK on 29th September