Mark Wahlberg chats to Mindfood about the latest film in the Transformers franchise, The Last Knight. This two-time Academy award nominated actor and former rapper, now 46, is a producer, businessman and entrepreneur. Offscreen he is just as busy raising four children with wife, model, Rhea Durham, in Los Angeles.
I heard you were opening a Wahlburgers restaurant in London?
Yes. We are two weeks away from announcing a location. We have looking for a number of locations and for us the most important thing is a flagship when opening the first one, but we are very close. We are going to announce it on Graham Norton next week.
How has this business affected your life? It’s different from the creative side.
It’s very satisfying. We are the fastest growing franchise in the history of restaurants. We are in the top 20 of the top 100 fast/casual restaurants as well. We have passed Five Guys and all these great chains. So the plan was always to grow and to build a business that we could pass onto generations.
This is the last Transformers in the franchise, but your director Michael Bay has said this about previous installments. Do you think it will continue and what about your role in it?
Well, we all know that Michael has had a history of saying the last one is the last one and he has said that a number of times. I think he has kind of created this whole world, so it’s hard for him to hand the reins over to somebody else to control. But we will see. I signed on to work with Michael, so if Michael wants to come back for one more, I contractually am obligated to do one more, but they may want to go in a different direction, who knows? So, I don’t think about it. If Michael goes and wants me to go I will go.
You’re obviously a good multi-tasker. How do you manage all the different business ventures as well as being a hands on father?
Well I get eight hours of sleep, that is the key. And I go to bed really early and I wake up really early and I get everything that I need to get done in a day. So sometimes it’s a little much, but I do have a plan and so I think hopefully it will be helpful in the future.
And with the kids and school?
Well see that is the thing, making a movie like this is difficult, and if you are shooting in the UK for five weeks, thankfully it was around the holiday, so my kids were able to come over and we spent a lot of time together. But I don’t like to go for more than a week, never more than two weeks without seeing my kids. So it ends up being a lot of traveling. But being able to multitask and also having good people in your life, can kind of help out with certain things and manage your time and manage other things on a day-to-day basis that maybe I just have to kind of check in on and focus on, on a weekly basis.
How many assistants do you have?
I have one that is working with me on a daily basis on the movies, and then I have one at home taking care of stuff there. So different people in different places, but I don’t have four people walking behind me with phones, I have five!
You’ve been married for many years now. What makes it work?
Communication. Support, listening to each other, now especially in raising children. The kids will definitely try to outsmart you and if go to you to ask permission for something and it could cause a problem. We are pretty protective. But communication and support are the keys. And date night, everything. We are going on a trip next week, so we will get to spend some quality time together.
It’s a while ago now but do you remember any pick up lines from your single days?
I had some really bad ones. (laughs) I would pull up in a car and roll down the window and go excuse me, I am lost, can I have directions? And she’d say, ‘Oh sure. Where to’ And I said, ‘To your house.’ (laughs)
And how did that work for you?
I won’t comment on that. (laughs)
Back to your career, you’ve been able to work in many genres. Was that always the plan?
Yeah, I mean, there is always the kind of broad stroke plan where you make sure you make some movies in the studio system that are really successful and that will allow you to kind of go out there and experiment a little bit more and take some chances. So there’s that, but then it’s filmmaker driven and it’s material driven and it really depends. But I don’t want to be told that I can only do one thing or two things.
Do your kids think you’re cool? The fact that you’re in Transformers must help?
You know, you would have to ask them. Maybe they think me being in “Transformers” is cool or some of these movies, but I do enough to embarrass them that probably just levels me off and back to like a normal dad. I still try to sneak a kiss as they are walking into the schoolyard and they are embarrassed.
What do you think when you look in the mirror?
I try to avoid the mirror because I know what I look like already, 46 years old, and you can’t change it. If you get into that, that’s a very slippery slope. There are some guys that you don’t even recognise them anymore. So no, I am just content with what God has given me and I try to take care of myself.