It’s not uncommon for actors to find themselves pigeonholed into playing the same role over and over again. This mostly happens because the individual embodies the part so memorably, it leads to similar opportunities throughout their careers. While some will continue till it becomes stale, others will do variations on the role, reinventing it with each turn. For Mark Wahlberg, playing a police officer has become his go-to role.
Starting as a model and a rap singer, Wahlberg transitioned to the big screen in the early 1990s. From there, he put in 15 years of sound work, cementing him as a reliable leading man in Hollywood. But in 2006, Mark Wahlberg’s career changed forever when he worked on Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed.” As Sgt. Sean Dignam, his foul-mouthed portrayal of a Boston police detective stole every scene he was in. When Oscar nominations came out, he landed one for Best Supporting Actor, the only acting nomination for the beloved crime drama.
After finding success with “The Departed,” Wahlberg went back to the well with “Max Payne” and “We Own the Night.” Though he was a highlight in each, they felt like uninspired performances. But with 2010’s “The Other Guys,” he was able to turn in something completely different. As Detective Terry Holt, he’s ready to poke fun at the role he’s made so successful. Working alongside co-star Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay, he tapped into his comedic chops, showing range we’d never seen before. He went on to star in two more cop vehicles, “Broken City” and “2 Guns.“ The latter is a surprisingly fun watch, mostly due to the on-screen chemistry between him and his co-star Denzel Washington.
Another turning point for Wahlberg’s came in 2013 when he collaborated with director Peter Berg. While they’ve worked together on five projects overall, three of those have been cop action-dramas with “Patriots Day,” “Mile 22,” and the latest feature, “Spenser Confidential.” Each project is a unique, accessible, and entertaining experience, resulting in an excellent partnership between the actor and director. “Patriots Day” is the highlight of their work, due to Walhberg’s connection to the storyline. As a native son of Boston, Massachusetts, you feel the personal struggle he goes through as he helps in the efforts to find the Boston Marathon bomber.
Looking at his future work, it doesn’t seem like another officer/cop role is on the way at the moment. But knowing his career and recent work with Berg, something tells us he won’t be able to help himself, and we should see him behind the badge soon enough. Til then, we have “Spenser Confidential” on Netflix this weekend to satisfy the itch.