Find Orlando Family Magazine on Facebook! Follow Orlando Family Magazine on Twitter! Orlando Family Magazine RSS Feed

Family Man

Husband, father, restaurateur and Hollywood superstar Mark Wahlberg has weaved himself into Orlando’s culinary landscape with new Wahlburgers locations.

Mark Wahlberg isn’t just one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. He’s also a noted family man and restaurateur, spearheading the successful chain of Wahlburgers eateries and A&E reality series of the same name with his brothers: the almost equally famous Donnie and lesser-known—but just as talented, albeit in different ways—Paul, who dreams up the burger joints’ tasty creations.

In February 2016, the trio opened their first local Wahlburgers in downtown Orlando, followed a year later by one in Waterford Lakes. With Mark and Paul having attended the first location’s grand opening, the movie star is starting to feel like an honorary resident.

As those familiar with his work know, Wahlberg is perfectly adept at playing the earnest guy on the big screen who swoops in and helps to save the day, and he does so with a great deal of grace and humility, as well as tenacity and moxie. A notable example of that ability can be seen in the 2006 Disney sports drama, Invincible.

In all, he’s acted in more than 40 movies, from hard-hitting dramas like The Perfect Storm and Lone Survivor to modern comedies like Ted and Daddy’s Home, both of which have sparked sequels, with the latter still in development.

Wahlberg’s stellar career has also included serving as the executive producer of the popular HBO television series, Entourage, which ran for seven seasons and was loosely based on his climb to movie stardom surrounded by his close childhood pals. He’s also produced Boardwalk Empire, about prohibition-era Atlantic City, and the network’s Ballers, starring Dwayne Johnson.

More recently, he tackled another difficult leading role in Patriots Day, about a true-life hero during the 2013 Boston Marathon who was a major part of a sophisticated law-enforcement manhunt for the two bombers responsible for injuring 264 and the death of three people, including an 8-year-old boy.

Wahlberg, who was also a producer of Patriots Day, said he took on the movie and the highly emotional role of an inspiring police sergeant because of the vital life lessons of patriotism involved. Among the most poignant aspects of that film is the story of Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, a young married couple who each lost limbs as a result of the marathon bombing, yet did not let their spirit wane.

Wahlberg said that meeting them was inspiring on a personal level, and something he will never forget. “I find them so inspiring because I don’t know if I would have the courage to just move forward and look at life and have that light that they shine so brightly,” he explains. “I hope I never have to answer these questions, but it made me think—if I was there on that day, when the explosions went off, would I run to these people, or would I run away in fear; I really don’t know.”

One thing that Wahlberg is certain of is that he would have done everything to protect his loved ones. Family is the key to understanding Wahlberg’s motivations and philosophy of life. The youngest of nine children, he is extremely close with his mom, Alma. Despite Wahlberg’s chaotic film schedule, he says he makes sure to spend time with his tight-knit extended family.

He and his wife, Rhea, are the loving parents of four children: Grace, 7, Brendan, 8, Michael, 10, and Ella, 13. While Wahlberg, who began his career as musician Marky Mark, had a reputation of being a party guy, he admits that he put all of that behind him when he became a family man, who doesn’t mind heading to bed by 9:30 p.m. when he is not working on a movie.

Wahlberg says he also has important values to pass on to his four children. What is important to him as their father? “It is major that my children are well-mannered, kind and grow up to be good, caring people,” he says.

Being a “fix-it man” is his overall approach to life and his attitude. “If there is a problem, I just gotta figure it out,” says Wahlberg. “I just gotta fix it. I do whatever it takes in order to get the job done.”

While he juggles a lot of roles— entrepreneur, actor, producer and family man—Wahlberg says he knows how to keep his priorities straight. So, what is his most important role?

“Being a good husband, a good father, a good son, friend, uncle and neighbor,” he says. “Those are the important things that I focus on. I know that if I succeed in business, but I fail at being a parent or a husband, then I’ve done it all for nothing. So, I just try to do the best that I can in everything that I do.”

He claims if the movie roles, fame and opportunities that come with being an A-list actor all went away, he would still be happy because of the extraordinary journey he has taken.

“There have been things I was able to experience and so much that I learned along the way,” Wahlberg says with a wide smile. “I have been fortunate enough to have had such rich experiences with what I am doing now, with my work in front of the camera, and with my kids. I have to say that I truly have no regrets.”

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s August 2017 issue.