Before The Departed, Mark Wahlberg’s ‘Marky Mark’s reputation almost cost him another Leonardo DiCaprio movie

Thank goodness Leonardo DiCaprio saw past the Funky Bunch and gave Marky Mark a chance in James Foley’s flick!

Prior to his Academy Award-nominated performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, Mark Wahlberg, 52, was better known for his music career as ‘Marky Mark’. It turns out, though, that his past nearly kept him from being cast in the psychological thriller Fear (1996).

As it happens, Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for the role of David McCall, but the casting director felt he was not a choice for the part. Rather, he made a favorable impression on director James Foley on behalf of Wahlberg, with whom he co-starred on The Basketball Diaries. Later on, the two collaborated on The Departed.

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg in Fear

Well, as one of Tinseltown’s most versatile actors, the father of four can now transition between comedic and action roles with ease. However, his breakout performance came in 1996, when he played the eerie antagonist in the big-screen psychological thriller Fear.

Leonardo Dicaprio, Mark Wahlberg’s Erstwhile Rival, Helped Him Land The Role In Fear
In the 1996 psychological drama film Fear, Mark Wahlberg played David McCall, a man whose love for a woman leads to an obsession. Directed by James Foley and written by Christopher Crowe, the film starred Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Petersen, Amy Brenneman, and Alyssa Milano.

In a recent Josh Horowitz interview, Wahlberg discussed the process by which the casting of the film Fear came about. According to him, he received a recommendation for Foley from Leonardo DiCaprio. “Are you out of your mind”, the director wondered in response to DiCaprio, since Wahlberg had done nothing.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg in The Departed

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg in The Departed

However, Foley consented to meet Wahlberg, and the two hit it off right away. Thus, the former insisted the studio hire him, even though his original plan had been to give him a chance at a smaller role. Check out The Departed actor’s statement below:

“We [Leonardo DiCaprio and I] became fast friends. And then to the point where he was recommending me to Foley for Fear. And Foley was like ‘what?’ And he was like ‘I know it sounds crazy, but you know the guy Marky Mark?’ And he’s like ‘yeah!’ He’s like ‘we just did this movie together.’ And he’s like ‘what, are you out of your mind?’ And he’s like ‘no no, he’d be really good for this part.’ So anyone, cut to me and Foley hanging out for 8 hours and he’s like ‘ah, I could never give you this part, you know, I really liked hanging out with you, is it okay if we can still be friends?’”

Being under “pressure” from numerous “people”, the Titanic star already knew Marky Marky, and it is likely that they first met before their performance at MTV. The Boston-born actor recalled:

“And finally Leo agreed, he was getting a lot of pressure from a lot of different people but he only knew me as Marky Marky and I think we met before we played at a MTV Rock and jock.”

Moreover, after starring in his first few features as tough guys and villains, Wahlberg wanted to play different kinds of roles. He once told the Sun Journal.

“People were afraid of me after roles in Fear and Basketball Diaries.”

His roles in movies such as Boogie Nights allowed him to break somewhat free from this sort of typecasting. Wahlberg also worked on a couple of movies in the years that followed, which he acknowledged he was not too proud of.

Unpacking the Evolution of Mark Wahlberg’s Career

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter
Even though he was not acting in movies at the time, Mark Wahlberg was well-known in the 1990s. He joined the hip-hop group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch in his early twenties. He also became renowned shortly after for his 1992 Calvin Klein advertisement. James Foley’s shocked response to Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting recommendation makes sense considering his background.

Wahlberg’s career took a dramatic turn in the mid-1990s when he starred in three consecutive motion pictures: Renaissance Man, The Basketball Diaries, and Fear. Also, did we mention that his acting career took off after his widely acclaimed role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights, and all three above-mentioned films demonstrated this talent?Nowadays, Wahlberg is regarded as an A-list celebrity and has received two Oscar nominations for his acting roles in The Departed and The Fighter. From serious dramas to action movies like Uncharted, Spenser Confidential, and Mile 22, his acting career spans a wide range. The actor has portrayed an adventurer who teams up with his cherished dog in his latest flick, Arthur the King.

Even though he was not initially taken seriously, he has proved himself to be a talented actor in the years that have passed.

Netflix has Fear available for streaming. And The Departed can be rented on Apple TV.


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