Last year Matt Damon turned 50. It happens. Next year, it’s Ben Affleck’s turn. So be it. “Good Will Hunting”? Good Will Aging. And let’s not forget our local Hollywood hero, Mark Wahlberg. Saturday is his turn to hit the half-century mark.
Age isn’t exactly slowing him down. He was spotted working out at a gym in Medford on Tuesday.
Still, the idea of a 50-year-old Mark Wahlberg seems so . . . implausible. It’s not just the early days as Marky Mark or the Calvin Klein underwear ads (forgot about those, hadn’t you?) — or the biceps bigger than Boston Common. It’s that Wahlberg has always seemed somehow, well, not quite so serious, certainly not serious the way Damon is or even Affleck (yes, despite playing Batman and the whole Bennifer business — then or now). There’s been no screenwriting Oscar for Wahlberg (Damon and Affleck won for “Good Will Hunting”) or as a producer (Affleck got one for “Argo”).
But hold on. Unlike Affleck, Wahlberg has an Oscar acting nomination: best supporting actor, for “The Departed” (2006). Also, “The Departed” is a reminder to take a closer look at the Wahlberg filmography. It includes more than just a bunch of action pictures and lunkhead comedies.
A useful measure of a star’s career is the directors he’s worked with. It tells you something about how much a star is viewed as a talent as well as a property. It also tells you something about how seriously a star takes his career. In addition to Scorsese, Wahlberg has worked with David O. Russell (”Three Kings,” 1999; “I Heart Huckabees,” 2004; “The Fighter,” 2010), Jonathan Demme (“The Truth About Charlie,” 2002), Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” 1999 — you remember Dirk Diggler?), Ridley Scott (“All the Money in the World,” 2018), James Gray (“The Yards,” 2000; “We Own the Night,” 2007), Tim Burton (“Planet of the Apes,” 2001), and Peter Jackson (“The Lovely Bones,” 2010). All right, that last one didn’t work out, but still.
Wahlberg also has another Oscar nomination, as a producer, for “The Fighter.” Highly successful movie careers aren’t just a matter of talent and luck. They also involve staying power and foresight. As early as 2004, Walhberg had his first producing credit, for “Juvies,” a documentary. Hamburgers aren’t the only product he’s on the business end of. Or gyms (the place where he was working out in Medford is part of a chain he has a minority stake in).
Did you know Wahlberg was an executive producer of three HBO series: “Entourage” (which he acted in) and “Boardwalk Empire” and “In Treatment” (which he did not)? IMDb lists 37 producing credits in all (it lists 74 for acting). His latest movie, “Infinite,” starts streaming on Paramount+ on Thursday. He’s one of the producers of that, too.
Oh, one other thing. Wahlberg sets up what has to be the greatest baseball joke in movie history. Well, if you’re a Yankee-hater it has to be. It’s in “The Other Guys” (2010). Wahlberg plays a New York cop (uh-huh), teamed with Will Ferrell (I know, I know). The punch line is “You shoulda shot A-Rod.” Who knows if Jennifer Lopez thinks it’s funny. You can bet Ben Affleck does.
Mark Feeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.