When I saw the headline about Mark Wahlberg asking for divine forgiveness for his role in Boogie Nights, I didn’t quite believe it. But this source article from The Chicago Tribune pretty much confirms that the headlines are accurate. Marky Mark gave the remarks while appearing alongside Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archdiocese of Chicago, at a church event. There, he spoke about his rough upbringing, his relationship with the church and talked about transgressions in his film career. “I just always hope that God is a movie fan and also forgiving, because I've made some poor choices in my past." Asked if he'd ever prayed for forgiveness for any movies in particular, he added, "'Boogie Nights' is up there at the top of the list."
I love Boogie Nights and I’ve seen it multiple times. And while it’s about the porn industry, what it’s really about is desperate people looking for connection and, in some cases, redemption. Their world is decadent, but also surprisingly caring and supportive. Eventually, the industry and the individual players take a dark turn and the utopic family falls apart. The movie also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman (in one of his greatest roles, and I don’t say this lightly), Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle and Burt Reynolds. Wahlberg was actually really great in it and, if memory serves, it was the role that truly established him as an actor.
But obviously he’s not at peace with it. You don’t pray for forgiveness if you feel totally good about something, right? And I wonder what bothers Mark about it now – the cocaine and prosthetic penis? I’ve looked back at his catalogue, and he doesn’t do a lot of sex scenes. Ted featured pot smoking. There are violent movies like The Departed. And then there’s his standard hero fare, the heart-of-gold working class dudes.
He was also the executive producer of Entourage. Entourage featured a lot of the same elements of Boogie Nights: drugs, copious amounts of sex and female nudity, and adult film star Sasha Grey had a story arc. In Boogie Nights, the glamour is a cover-up for emptiness, a bunch of desperately sad people pretending to have the time of their lives. Entourage is in another world, tonally. The drugs and sex were aspirational, a reward for Vince’s fame. The boys – Vince, E, Turtle and Drama – had no inner life, which for some is more palatable than damaged people.
That he singled out Boogie Nights in particular makes me wonder where the Entourage movie is on his list of “poor choices.” Does he regret his hand in making it as much as the critics and much of the audience regret watching it?
Here's Mark out in LA the other day.