Saying he would have thwarted the hijackers was "insensitive," Wahlberg admits

By Liz Raftery
Updated January 18, 2012 04:50 PM
Donna Ward/Getty

Mark Wahlberg is used to playing a tough guy in films like The Fighter, but he wound up on the defensive after saying he could have overpowered the 9/11 terrorists.

“If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn t have went down like it did,” the actor, 40, told Men’s Journal. “There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.'”

After criticism from 9/11 widows and others, Wahlberg issued a statement Wednesday saying it was a “ridiculous” choice to even speculate about how he might have handled the situation.

“To suggest I would have done anything differently than the passengers on that plane was irresponsible,” the Contraband star told PEOPLE. “I deeply apologize to the families of the victims that my answer came off as insensitive. It was certainly not my intention.”

Deena Burnett-Bailey, whose husband, Thomas Burnett, was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, had blasted Wahlberg’s original comments as “grandstanding.”

Flight 93, which was thought to have been aiming for the White House, crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers on board rushed the cockpit and were able to overtake the hijackers.

“The plan for Flight 93 was foiled by heroes,” Burnett-Bailey told “For [Wahlberg] to speculate that his presence on board could have stopped everything is silly and disrespectful.”