Mark Wahlberg


  1. Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers, 1996. Josh Brolin auditioned, James Marsden and Mark Wahlberg simply passed on being Johnny Rico – whether the great Paul Verhoeven (succeeding James Cameron) was directing or not! Marsden and Wahlberg joined forces for 2 Guns in 2012.  

  2. Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting, 1997.
    Paramount  loved the script by Damon and Ben Affleck, just didn’t want  them as Will and Chuckie – written, Rocky-style for themselves.  The way Affleck heard it from Wahlberg, a top  Paramount exec had told him:  “We got a great movie for you.   We’re just gonna buy their script, ice them, and put you in  it.

  3. Stephen Baldwin, One Tough Cop, 1998.      Finally losing his Marky Mark rapper-model monicker, little Wahlberg proved his acting ability  – and agility – in Boogie Nights. Wearing a fake giant penis was one thing… but  putting on 35 lbs to be New York’s most decorated cop,  Bo Dietl, was going too far.
  4. Joaquin Phoenix, 8mm, 1998.      Last minute casting switch by director Joel Schumacher as he began another grim tale (snuff-movies!) by the Se7en writer  Andrew Kevin Walker. Wahlberg and Phoenix co-starred in their next assignment that year, The Yards – and in another James Gray movie, We Own The Night, 2006.
  5. Tobey Maguire, The Cider House Rules, 1999. Author John Irving went through four directors before settling on the Swedish Lasse Hallström to handle what Roger Ebert called a David Copperfieldesque  story (or, indeed, stories). For Homer, finally leaving his orphanage and surrogate father Michael Caine (winning his first Oscar), Hallström looked at The Class of ‘97 – Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, James Franco, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Ryan Phillippe, Mark Wahlberg, Paul Walker. And chose Leonardo DiCaprio, who passed it to his (monotoned) pal, Maguire. 
  6. Jake Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko, 2000.     Despite being 29, Wahlberg was willing to tackle the much trouble teenage hero created by Richard Kelly, 23 and just out of film school. (So no one else as going to direct!). But only if he could play him with a lisp.  Geth outha here!
  7. Ethan Hawke, Training Day, 2000. When rapper Eminem, had to pass on the rookie undercover cop, Jack Hoyt, director Antoine Fuqua thought about Wahlberg – and then voted for Hawke.  (He got him and co-star Denzel Washington again for the 2015 Magnificent Seven re-make).
  8. Paul Walker, The Fast and the Furious, 2000. Christian Bale, Eminem and Mark Wahlberg were also considered for Brian O’Connor.  Walker went on to the  sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious and won a huge  cult following with  chapters 4, 5, 6. He was 40 and filming #7 when he was killed in an off-duty car crash on November 30, 2013. “Father God I pray that you send clarity over this ’cause I just don’t understand,” said co-star Tyrese Gibson. “My heart hurts it’s broken no one can convince me that this is real… I can’t believe I’m writing this.“
  9. Damien Lewis, Band of Brothers, TV, 2001.    The pivotal role was that of Lieutenant (later Major) Dick Winters, commanding Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Para cute Infantry Regiment,  part of the 101st Airborne Division,   during WWII. Winters was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Wahlberg from Boston, Massachusetts and Lewis from St John’s Wood, London. Go figure!  More or less what Lewis said when the actor before him at the auditions for producer Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks was a dead ringer for Winters – yet he, the Brit, got the part.  And a career.The superb mini-series also boosted the fortunes of Brits Dominic Cooper, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Damien Lewis, James McAvoy, Simon Pegg and Marc Warren.
  10. Matt Damon, Ocean’s Eleven, 2001.      Forced to quit his third project with pal George Clooney when a threatened actors’ strike moved up the start date of Planet of the Apes.  Clooney when a threatened actors’ strike moved up the start date of Planet of the Apes.  Another Clooney mate  took over as Linus.  
  11. Mark Ruffalo, The Last Castle, 2001.      Well, of course, Wahlberg didn’t go to jail with Robert Redford and James Gandolfini –  it wasn’t a re-make!  What a year!  Hemissed  American Airlines Flight 11  – which was crashed into the World Trade Center 15 minutes after takeoff… September 11, 2001.   (Seth McFarland  missed the same flight)

  12. Colin Farrell, Phone Booth, 2001.  
    After about 30 years of B-pix, directing 18 of them, Larry Cohen moved from B to A List scripter at 58. “I wrote the character of a small-time hustling publicist and patterned him on Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success and even had Tony ready to star but… It took 40 years to get his suspenser made. Alfred Hitchcock wanted it in the ’60s, but neither man could work out why the hero stayed trapped in the titular box. By the ’90s, Cohen found the (all-American) idea of a sniper – threatening to shoot the hero if he left the booth. Director Joel Schumacher talked to Jim Carrey when they made Batman Forever, 1994, then Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Will Smith, and, finally, the young Irish lad he’d made into a sudden star with Tigerland, 1999.  And Schumacher shot it all in nine days! “It was a blast,” said Farrell. “The most intense experience of my life.” But young fans with their cell phones, didn’t know from … whaddyer call ’em again… phone booths. Cohen heard them, and brought his tale up to date as Cellular for Kim Basinger and Chris Evans in 2003.
  13. Colin Farrell, SWAT, 2002.      Wahlberg was first choice for Jim Street of the LAPD’s Special Weapons and Tactics team. Then, Paul Walker was training to succeed him – until his 2 Fast 2 Furious over-ran. Enter: the Irishman! As things turned ouit, Wahlberg’s Italian Job re-tread was filming in downtown LA at the same time.
  14. Edward Norton, The Italian Job, 2002.    Blasphemy!  As if Sly Stallone ruining Michael Caine’s Get Carterwasn’t enough, now another Hollywooden seriously damaged Caine’s classic Charlie Croker in this tawdry re-hash.  Wahlberg, who had only wanted the Steve Frazelli part, was still talking up a Brazilian Job sequel in 2015!
  15. Adrien Brody, The Jacket, 2004.      Directors changed from George Clooney to John Maybury – who decided an actor was best for the lead role.
  16. Daniel Craig, Infamous, 2004.  In a second film about Truman Capote in the same year, Wahlberg suddenly dropped out  of playing the In Cold Blood killer, Perry Smith. Of course, he  did – the role it required an actor.  He was replaced by in October, 2004 by Mark Ruffalo until he quit  as well. to allow another rough trade role for Craig, the new 007.

  17. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain, 2004.    
    Hollywood was not keen on Annie Prouix’s 1977 short story – two gay shepherds in Wyoming, get outa here!  Until directors (more than actors) queued to make it.  Ang Lee, Joel Schumacher – but first in line was Gus Van Sant (obviously). He called up Damon and Joaquin Phoenix (obviously, they’d made his Good Will Hunting and To Die For, respectively). Then, because of their brother-like relationship, Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix were suggested. (Phoenix never knew or he would have accepted a heartbeat, while Mark said the love scenes would be too graphic for him).  Ang Lee was considering retirement when the script “nurtured” him back to work, only to find many actors were scared to play gay. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Philippe and Brad Pitt all refused. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal did not. ”These two are among the best in their age group.. a very good couple in terms of a romantic love story.”  Gyllenhaal added: “I don’t think that these two characters even know what gay is.…” What ties [them] together is not just a love, but … primarily it was deep loneliness.” Ang Lee  told journo  Robert Ordona  that in the 60s, he’d have chosen  Paul Newman and Montgomery Clift as Ennis and Jack.

  18. Ethan Hawke, Assault on Precinct 13, 2005.       He turned down a re-tread?!  But they were  his stock in trade. “Some don’t know when to walk away, but the smart ones do.”  D’oh!
  19. Russell Crowe, The Cinderella Man, 2005.    An early favourite to play 1930s boxer Jimmy Braddock. Wahlberg says he looks at his career, the way  an athlete would. “I won’t play forever.”   Hopefully true.
  20. Eric Dane, Feast, 2005.      “These things are comin’, they’re hungry and we’re next…”  Passed on (short-lived) Hero in nifty horror-movie from debuting director John Gulager, son of Clu.

  21. Aaron Eckhart, The Black Dahlia, 2005.    
    Wahlberg wanted a (credible) boxing movie. He thought of  a Vinnie Curto biopic (with De Niro as    Angelo Dundee) – and even this thriller by Brian De Palma because both of his cops were boxers. “I’d already built a ring in my backyard by then.” And used it, secretly, three hours every morning (while making six other movies) as he also fought to get The Fighteroff the canvas in 2009. Dahlia  was the end of Brian De Palma!  He took James Ellroy’s masterpiece and chopped it up as badly as the pooor 1947 victim of a mutilation murder in LA, unsolved to this day. Rolling Stone c
    ritic Peter Travers buried the filmDe Palma throws everything at the screen, but almost nothing sticks.  The tragedy is that David Fincher gave up his three hour, black-white plan when convinced he could  never make it exactly the way he saw it in his head.

  22. Colin Farrell, Pride and Glory, 2006.       9/ll changed the movie…  Original  co-stars  Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman agreed that after the Twin Tower heroics was not the time for an NYPD corruption exposé.  Wahlberg (and his future  Ted writer and co-star Seth MacFarlane) were originally booked on American Airlines planes flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Wahlberg decided to leave later, MacFarlane simply missed his plane… and saw it all on the airport TV. (Once made, the film was shelved for two years… when Wahlberg took over Jackman’s role in The Lovely Bones, 2008).
  23. Channing Tatum, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, 2008.  Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura saw Wahlberg as Duke – of the Brussels-based GIJOE – Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity. Director Stephen Summers did not – picking the ho-hum Tatum from Chris Evans, Matthew Fox and Sam Worthington the crazy toys-as-source-material movie. (Bonaventura alsp produced Transformers, two of which would star Wahlberg). Rolling Stone critic  Peter Travers skewered GI: “I don’t know what to say about the acting, writing and directing… because I couldn’t find any.”
  24. Chris Hemsworth, Star Trek,2008.
  25. Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island, 2009.      When UK director David Fincher was due to direct Brad Pitt in the main role, Wahlberg was due to be Pitt’s cop partner,  Chuck Aule. The two actors were later booked, also by Paramount, for The Fighter, 2010. This time, Wahlberg remained when Pitt quit.
  26. Josh Brolin, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, 2009.      Among six possible replacements for the over-fatigued  Spanish star Javier Bardem. Director Oliver Stone decided upon his W from his 2008 study of George W Bush. The sub-title stems from a Michael Douglas-as-Gordon-Gekko line in the first, 1987 film.
  27. Nicolas Cage, Kick-Ass, 2009.      Mark and Daniel Craig were also up for Big Daddy.
  28. Seth Rogen, The Green Hornet, 2010.   Directors changed from Frenchman  Michel Gondry to New Jersey auteur Kevin Smith. So did our green hero… Mark was to be green in the late 90s, opposite Jason Scott Lee as Kato (Bruce Lee’s old TV role and Lee had played his life story in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, 1992).  Other  notions included  George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Vince Vaughn Corey Reynolds or Eddie Murphy for the black Hornet, John Stewart! And, finally,  the drastically  slimmed down Rogen.
  29. Joel Edgerton, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, 2011.      Mark and Joaquin Phoenix were short-listed for Timothy’s father before Iowa auteur Peter Hedges met the Australian star of The Thing prequel.
  30. Bradley Cooper, The Silver Linings Playbook, 2012.    “You’re never their first choice,” said Cooper. Or second… “If you really want to go back and do an archeological dig,” laughed director David O Russell, “I wrote it for Vince Vaughn. And Zooey Deschanel.” As per usual, Russell then wanted Mark Wahlberg – they made The Fighter, instead. And after? “For whatever reason, things didn’t line up.”
  31. Hugh Jackman, Prisoners, 2013.    Due as a Fighter reunion. With Wahlberg, as the father of an abducted daughter, opposite Christian Bale’s New England cop in a Bryan Singer version during the project’s four year on/off Hollywood shelf life.  Jackman had first been due with Antoine Fuqua directing, then quit and ultimately, returned.

  32. Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey, 2013.   
    Among the heavy-hitters battling to secure rights  to the year’s most scandalous novel – a dullard and impossible to film BDSM piece – was Wahlbergh’s production combine.  With, obvously, Wahlberg seeing himself as tycoon Christian Gray ruling his prey Anastasia Steele.  That would have been decidedly… creepy!   
    Social networks were full of weird suggestions for the porn novel’s BDSM lover, Christian Grey. From Robert Pattinson, Matt Smith to Henry Cavill (well, S/M also stands for Superman) and Captain America Chris Evans (as if Marvel would allow that). None led to talks, auditions or tests.  Because the suits had eyes only for Gosling.  No way, said he. Most wise. Next target was Charlie Hunnam. He agreed and then suddenly quit because of his Sons of Anarchy, series (among other issues), and a second batch of front-runners were seen: Luke Bracey (the inevitable Aussie), Canadians Patrick J Adams and François Arnaud (well versed in jiggery-pokery as Cesare in The Borgias series), plus Scott Eastwood, Theo James, Billy Magnussen – and Alexander Skarsgård, playing Tarzan by then with an Anastasia Steele hopeful, Margot Robbie.   (Hunnam had also been in the ape-man mix). The first group had been Stephen Amell (he preferred Oliver Queen, aka DC’s Arrow, TV 2012-2016), ex-UK model David Gandy (who simply refused), two other Brits, Christian Cooke (from Love, Rosie with London model Suki Waterhouse up for Anastasia), Dominic Cooper (perfect, surely!), plus Aussie Daniel McPherson – and Santa Monica’s Ryan Paevey actually auditioned. As for the Belgian hunk, Matthias Schoenaerts – he fell asleep reading the scenario. Oh, and author EL James vetoed any idea of of Dornan’s pal, Eddie Redmayne! They were all lucky to escape the turgid, totally un-erotic enterprise. Only 14 minutes and 17 seconds of sex, no orgasms – and pubes added digitally to actors’ genital patches!! And poor Dornan was a zero without his beard.

  33. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy, 2017.  The title comes from John Lennon, the story (true) from writer David Sheff  (who interviewed the Beatle several months before his murder) and also by his son, Nic – about how they combat his crystal meth and heroin addiction.      
  34. Oscar Isaac, Triple Frontier, 2018.    The duo fixing up a dirty half-dozen of fellow needy ex-Special Forces guys to rip off your usual South American drug kingpin to beef up their pensions went from Tom Hardy-Channing Tatum to Johnny Depp-Tom Hanks to Ben and Casey Affleck to Denzel Washington-Sean Penn to Leonardo DiCaprio-Anybody to, finally, Ben Affleck-Oscar Isaac. By which time it had run out of the steam it must have once had as Kathryn Bigelow was once going to direct.   JC Chandor was no substitute.







 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  34