Nothing makes you think more existentially, says Mark Wahlberg, than watching the birth of your child.

“I’m standing there cutting the umbilical cord, and it’s beautiful and scary at the same time, and you wonder what it’s all about,” Wahlberg reminisces about the birth of his daughter Ella Rae on Sept. 2, 2003.

After he watched the birth of his daughter to girlfriend Rhea Durham, this 33-year-old notorious Hollywood bad boy who flaunted his Funky Bunch as rapper Marky Mark says in a candid interview that he grew up quickly. It was no coincidence that this new beginning happened two days after he wrapped filming “I (Heart) Huckabees” where he plays a fireman questioning his life with the help of two Existential Detectives played by Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman.

“I’m glad I was able to shed that depressed and frustrated character before the birth of my daughter,” says Wahlberg, who also stars in the film with Jude Law, Jason Schwatzman and Naomi Watts.

Kidding around at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film debuted, double-Oscar winner Hoffman teases, “For a guy with such big pecs and biceps, Mark is a very intelligent guy.” Wahlberg says he and Hoffman “would have gotten along a lot better if he did hard time.”

Wahlberg served prison time as a teenager for assault, and went on to make his name as a singer, underwear model and actor in movies such as “Perfect Storm,” “Rock Star” and “Boogie Nights,” in which he played a porn star with a prodigious body part. Reflecting back on his career, he doubts he would have done some of those movies again.

Wahlberg waxes nostalgic about his decadelong film career. “People were afraid of me after roles in “Fear’ and “Basketball Diaries,’ and then I did a lot of remakes that didn’t come across like I would have liked,” he says. “I did “Truth About Charlie’ because I wanted to work with the guy who directed “Silence of the Lambs’ (Jonathan Demme) and I wasn’t really into the original “Planet of the Apes’ but it was a chance to work with Tim (Burton, the director) and “The Italian Job’ was the only script that had come along in a while that was a traditional character-driven movie.”

His favorite movies to date are “The Yards,” which he did with Joaquin Phoenix and Charlize Theron, and two movies directed by David O. Russell – “Three Kings” and “I (Heart) Huckabees.”

For now, Wahlberg is concentrating on fixing up a house in Orlando where his daughter and her mother live, and he’s playing a lot of golf. He talks to inner-city kids about his own story through his Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation and he tries to give them some inspiration.

“We all just have to focus our energy, sometimes into things that drive us crazy,” Wahlberg muses. “I found some good things to focus on these days.”


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