How Mark Wahlberg Went from HS Dropout to Hollywood's Top Tough Guy

Not many actors can say they've been a rapper, underwear model, producer, and ex-con, but then again not many actors are Mark Wahlberg.

Born in Boston, Wahlberg has made a name for himself as one of Hollywood's top actors, but he has also gone on to be one of the industry's best businessmen.

Starring in the upcoming "Transformers: Age of Extinction," Wahlberg continues to transform himself into an even bigger star.

See how he became Hollywood's top tough guy.

The youngest of nine children, Wahlberg was born on June 5, 1971 in Dorchester, Massachusetts — a blue-collar neighborhood in Boston.


Wahlberg eventually dropped out of school at 13 and turned to a life of selling drugs and stealing cars. At 17, Wahlberg went through one of the darkest times in his life when he was arrested for assault. He served a 45-day sentence at one of the worst prisons in Boston.


During this time, faith played huge part in Wahlberg's life and still does today. The actor attends church twice every Sunday and is a devout Irish Catholic. "It’s the most important part of my life," Wahlberg has said. "I don’t try to push it on anybody, and I don’t try to hide it."

After his stint in prison, Wahlberg turned his life around by following his older brother Donnie — who was a member of the popular early '90s boy band New Kids on the Block — into the music business.


After being one of the original members of New Kids, Wahlberg left to start his own group, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. The group's song "Good Vibrations" was a hit and made it to the top of the charts.

While hip-hop is now behind him, Wahlberg never counts out returning to the Funky Bunch saying, "there might be a time and a place for it. It would have to make sense."

With his music career stalling, Wahlberg transitioned to modeling underwear for Calvin Klein. Wahlberg's willingness to show off his chiseled body put him on People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful List.


But it was Wahlberg's charm that caught director Scott Kalvert's eye and cast him in one of his first roles, 1995's "The Basketball Diaries" alongside a young Leonardo DiCaprio. "He just had an explosive charisma," Kalvert said on casting Wahlberg.


Wahlberg's tough persona was used in other films, like 1996's "Fear," but it was his role as the sensitive Dirk Diggler in 1997's "Boogie Nights" that helped his career take off.

The film's risque exploration of the 1970's porn industry was a bit much for Wahlberg, who wanted to get away from just being known as someone who takes his clothes off. However, the film was a critical success and has since raked in over $43 million.


Wahlberg starred in nine films between 1998 and 2003. This included costarring alongside George Clooney in hits like "Three Kings" and "The Perfect Storm," along with fun remakes like "The Italian Job" and "Planet of the Apes."

In 2004, Wahlberg tried his hand at TV production with a little series called "Entourage," based on his own experience in the Hollywood.

funky bunch

The show was picked up by HBO, where it became "the guys’ answer to the cable network's hit 'Sex and the City.'" Wahlberg made a cameo in the show's pilot. An upcoming film based on the show is in the works.


After "Entourage," Wahlberg developed a production relationship with HBO, helping produce other hits for the network, like the award-winning "Boardwalk Empire."

In 2006, Wahlberg's acting career went to the next level when he starred in Martin Scorsese's Boston crime drama "The Departed." His role as fast-talking Det. Sgt. Dignam gave the actor his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Wahlberg returned to his hometown of Boston for another critically acclaimed role starring in and producing 2010's "The Fighter." He received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as real-life boxer Mickey Ward.

Wahlberg took a stab at comedy in 2010's "The Other Guys" with Will Ferrell and 2012's "Ted," which became the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time. "I want to do it all. I want to try it all,” said Wahlberg. "If I’m wise in choosing the things that I do, then I can do OK."

In 2009, Wahlberg married his longtime girlfriend, model Rhea Durham. The couple have four kids — Ella, Michael, Brendan, and Grace.


In 2013, at 42, Wahlberg finally graduated from high school. This was a goal that Wahlberg wanted to accomplish both for himself and his children. "I didn't want the kids saying, 'You didn't do it, so why do I need it?' They are all wanting to do things in their future that require an education."

In 2013, Wahlberg entered the world of reality TV. The actor and his brothers, along with mother Alma, let A&E follow them around as they opened up a cheeseburger restaurant in Boston cleverly named "Wahlburgers."


Wahlberg's next role is starring in "Transformers: Age of Extinction," which hits theaters June 27.


After 2013's "Pain and Gain," the new "Transformers" film will be the second time Wahlberg has worked with director Michael Bay. "He’s a great guy. He’s so prepared," Bay says of working with Wahlberg. "I never have to explain where he is as a character. He's a very prepared guy."

"All of the stuff that I’ve seen has been incredible so far," Wahlberg said about working on the film. "I have a lot of responsibility with what I’m required to bring to the table, but I’m excited about that. I always get excited about the opportunity to do something great and challenging myself."

He made Psycho boyfriends look delicious