Before he started acting, Mark Wahlberg was best known as Marky Mark, the pants-dropping rapper who attained fame and notoriety with his group the Funky Bunch. In the tradition of Will Smith and Ice Cube, Wahlberg has made a successful transition from music to film, garnering particular early praise for his role in Boogie Nights.
Born June 5, 1971, in Dorchester, MA, Wahlberg had a troubled early life. One of nine children, he dropped out of school at 16 (he would later earn his GED) and committed a number of minor felonies. After working various odd jobs, Wahlberg briefly joined brother Donnie and his group New Kids on the Block before forming his own, Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch. The group had widespread popularity for a time, most notably with its 1992 hit single "Good Vibrations." However, it was Wahlberg himself who received the lion's share of attention, whether it was for the homophobia controversy that surrounded him for a time, or for the 1992 Calvin Klein ad campaign featuring him wearing nothing more than his underwear, Kate Moss, and an attitude. In 1993, Wahlberg turned his attentions to acting with a role in The Substitute. The film, co-starring a then-unknown Natasha Gregson Wagner, was a critical and commercial failure, but Wahlberg's next project, 1994's Renaissance Man, with Danny De Vito, gave him the positive notices that would increase with the release of his next film, The Basketball Diaries (1995). Although the film received mixed reviews, many critics praised Wahlberg's performance as Mickey, Leonardo Di Caprio's friend and fellow junkie. Following Diaries, Wahlberg appeared in Fear (1996) in the role of Reese Witherspoon's psychotic boyfriend.