Becoming a dad changes everything – even for a tough guy like Mark Wahlberg. “It’s the best,” the I Heart Huckabees star says of raising his 1-year-old daughter, Ella Rae, with his girlfriend, model Rhea Durham. The 33-year-old actor – who was the inspiration for and is the executive-producer of the HBO series Entourage, about the fast life of a young Hollywood up-and-comer – now prefers to spend his time golfing and hanging out with family. Wahlberg recently talked about slowing down, playing daddy and contemplating retirement.
You had said you were nervous about becoming a father. Are you just putty in her hands now?
Oh yeah. She knows that I can’t say no.
You took a year off to spend time with your family. Were you worried about the competition in Hollywood getting by you?
I’ve been doing this for too long to care anymore. It’s not something that I’m going to do forever. I have other interests. Golf. My daughter.
Are you talking about retirement?
Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t say that I’m not coming back. If (director) David (O. Russell) wanted me to work I would certainly work with friends and for friends. But yeah, I don’t want to do this forever.
How has fatherhood changed you?
It changes everything. It certainly changes the decisions that I make in the future, the kinds of films that I do and the kinds of things that I put out there. I certainly would have a hard time accepting a role like (porn star Dirk Diggler in) Boogie Nights now that I have a daughter. I mean, I’m going to have to explain it anyway, but I was a different person then.
So no more sex and violence?
Yeah, especially if it’s just to get paid. If it’s real art, then it depends on the project. I mean, I’m really just at a different place.
What about marriage?
Soon, hopefully. [IMAGE “2” “left” “std” ]How did you approach making Huckabees?
Fortunately, movies like this allow you to dive in and block everything else out. I couldn’t completely do that because I was having a child, but the nervous energy and the anticipation of that really played well with the energy of my character in this film.
Are you going to do more with Entourage next season?
Well, I did a cameo in the pilot and I’m going to do something in the second season, and of course I hope to direct a few episodes.
What about the series made you decide to go into producing?
Well, we had a great idea. Then, after a friend at HBO had heard about it, we knew here’s a place where we can do what we want to do and not really have to compromise, and show what really goes on in that world. They wanted nothing more than to allow us the freedom to do exactly that. The only thing that initially we wanted that we didn’t get was that we wanted a guy more like myself as the star.
Rather than Adrien Grenier?
Rather than a Leonardo (DiCaprio) type. We wanted more of a physical guy.
Beefy, but also might crack you in the head. My crew, if someone messed up the lunch, well, maybe we’d get into a fight about it, but we’d be friends right after. They didn’t think that would be appealing to watch or that most people would be able to understand that.