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American Best Actor – Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg, known mainly for his rugged good looks and bad-boy attitude, first gained public recognition by fronting the funk band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. They were relatively successful, recording two albums in the early nineties, and Wahlberg (aka Marky Mark) gained much notoriety for his habit of dropping his pants onstage. This “habit” was later put to good use by designer Calvin Klein, who enlisted Wahlberg–alongside model Kate Moss–for a series of provocative underwear ads that quickly adorned billboards throughout the nation.
Once his music career fizzled, Wahlberg dropped the Marky Mark moniker and decided to pursue an acting career. Though naysayers quickly scoffed at the young hipsters’ new move, Wahlberg was quickly proving them wrong. The actor had a natural screen presence, and his “bad-boy” persona belied a very charismatic performer. Among his early roles were The Substitute (1993), Renaissance Man (1994), The Basketball Diaries (1995), and Fear (1996). Wahlberg’s roles at this time were still mainly taking advantage of his tough-boy image, but audiences were soon to discover just how talented the ex-rapper really was.
In 1997, Wahlberg starred as Dirk Diggler in the critically acclaimed Boogie Nights, a film that took a frank and unglamorous look at the burgeoning pornographic industry of the late seventies and early eighties. Wahlberg surprised many with the depth he was able to bring to his character, who in the movie goes full-circle from an unknown wanna-be actor, to the biggest star in the business, to an outcast. It was this performance that truly legitimized Wahlberg’s move to the big screen, and which finally forced audiences to look at him as Mark Wahlberg the actor, and not Marky Mark the ex- pop star. The significance of this achievement cannot be understated, as Wahlberg thus became one of the very few teen sensations who has managed to find further success as an adult performer. And all this after a somewhat troubled childhood involving dropping out of school and becoming involved in several minor felonies.
Wahlberg’s career continued to soar as the nineties closed, with convincing performances in a couple of films alongside pal George Clooney: Three Kings (1999) and The Perfect Storm (2000). In 2001, he appeared in Tim Burton’s reworking of the 1968 sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes. Although critics were less than enchanted with his performance in the film, it was still a great coup for Wahlberg — the lead role in what could very well become a multi-film franchise. With his performance as a would-be rock star in the aptly titled Rock Star (2001), the former teen idol got one more opportunity to strut his stuff onstage in front of adoring fans. In 2003, Wahlberg again stepped into some big shoes, this time of British star Michael Caine, in a remake of the 1960s British crime caper The Italian Job.
Wahlberg was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts on June 5, 1971.