Flashback: Wahlberg, 23, Reflects on Dark Past


As Mark Wahlberg continues to bask in the success of his starring roles in another set of films this year, ET rewinds to the beginning days of his acting career, to his second feature film, The Basketball Diaries.

At the time of our flashback in 1995, Wahlberg was well-acquainted with show business, having been a model and singer/rapper, briefly with New Kids on the Block with his brother Donnie in the band's early days and then with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

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While that experience may have helped prepare him for the limelight, his acting career was still in its infancy, as Basketball Diaries was only the second feature film for the then-23-year-old budding movie star.

Wahlberg landing the role as "Mickey" in the film was a stepping stone for his acting career, but it also forced him to submerge into a world from which he had distanced himself.

The film is based on the autobiographical novel of Jim Carroll's teenage trials with drug addiction and his subsequent journey to retain his sobriety, which caused Wahlberg to hearken back to his own struggles with drugs in his teenage years.

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"It was difficult for me because I've changed so much and I'm really against that type of lifestyle," says Wahlberg as he stands on the court on which some of the film's scenes were shot. "I found peace and love in my heart a long time ago and to reflect on that made me see just what I was doing."

Although he was entangled in a world filled with vices as a teen and into his early twenties, Wahlberg maintains that he has no regrets about his previous lifestyle.

"Everything has made me the person that I am today. I don't have, really, any regrets," the Bostonian says. "Everything I've done has been a learning experience. ... I had to grow up at a young age and, I think, when I got put in a position of power and not having a childhood, I tried to rebel a little bit.

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"...I still have a lot of things that I want to be serious about. I still want to better my situation. I've inspired a lot of kids like myself to work hard and focus on their dreams and try to accomplish them."

If becoming a movie star was one of Wahlberg's dreams, then he certainly achieved it. Shortly after his well-received role in Basketball Diaries, Wahlberg signed on to star in two films: Fear and Boogie Nights.

A decade later he was nominated for his first Oscar for The Departed, in which he reunited with Basketball Diaries co-star Leonard DiCaprio.