Mark Wahlberg quietly becomes world's most bankable actor
Forbes has just released its annual list of the highest-paid actors, and the former foreman of the Funky Bunch is on top. This year, Wahlberg made $68 million, squeaking past The Rock by $3 million.
Now, we do not begrudge a bro a hefty payday, but we cannot help but notice a troubling fact: that massive income is for 2017, a year when his output consists of Transformers: The Last Knight and Daddy's Home 2. Mark Wahlberg is making the worst movies of his career, and getting paid more than ever. He's averaged a 42 percent Rotten Tomatoes review score in his last 11 movies.
We already know that Wahlberg is an actor of real skill and sensitivity. We were startled by it in The Basketball Diaries, and again in Boogie Nights, and again in Three Kings, and again about every three years since. He is better than the material he's been choosing. And even worse, he's letting great material pass him by: this Christmas, Jake Gyllenhaal will play Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman in David Gordon Green's Stronger.
You read that correctly: there was a real-life Boston-Strong role out there for the picking, and Wahlberg left it for Gyllenhaal to snatch up.
Instead of playing directly to his strengths and going for the Oscar that could be his for the taking, he slummed it with Anthony Hopkins and got chased by space cars. Time will tell whether Daddy's Home 2 will be the beloved comedy blockbuster the original film wasn't, but Transformers: The Last Knight was an objectively bad movie; right now, it's at a RottenTomatoes audience score of 48%, and that's among people who willingly paid to see it.
Mark Wahlberg is a very talented actor, but if he keeps making these kinds of choices, he's going to squander a whole The Departed worth of goodwill.
But of course, the material he's been choosing just made him the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, and here I am shoe-horning in a reminder that I have a book for sale. Maybe Entourage was closer to Wahlberg's real life than we thought. Maybe 2017 is just Wahlberg's Aquaman, he's playing his cards exactly right, and soon he'll drop his Medellin. Here's hoping.