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Mark Wahlberg says ‘Boogie Nights’ days aren’t behind him, but he wants to do films ‘the whole entire family can see’

Mark Wahlberg is proud of the movies he’s appearing these day. The versatile actor is in his family-friendly era (The Family Plan, Uncharted), something he continues with Arthur the King, as he embraces getting older and the roles that come with it.

“You know, I do enjoy doing things that the whole entire family can see. Look, I’m 52 years old now. I’m a dad of four. I’ve got a kid in college,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment. (Wahlberg and his wife, Rhea Durham, are the parents of Ella, 20, Michael, 17, Brendan, 15 and Grace, 14.) “I like playing age-appropriate roles. I think a lot of people don’t embrace that and audiences are like — this doesn’t seem real.”

One thing Wahlberg believes audiences want to see is “the guy and the gal being in the same age bracket,” which has been the case in several of his recent projects. “There’s many different things that I think audiences frown upon and I want to do things that are believable and realistic,” he says.

That doesn’t mean Wahlberg’s Boogie Nights days are necessarily behind him — “Listen, if the right script comes, I don’t rule anything out,” he says. But for now he wants to make “meaningful” projects like Arthur the King, in which he stars and produces.

Mark Wahlberg and Ukai the dog Mark Wahlberg and Ukai the dog

Mark Wahlberg and Ukai the dog at a special screening of their new film. (Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

In the film, Wahlberg plays pro adventure racer Michael Light. The movie is based on the true story of Mikael Lindnord‘s journey through Ecuador during the 2014 Adventure Racing World Championship when a stray dog joined the four-person adventure team. At the end of the race, Lindnord had to choose between his lifelong dream or saving the dog (who he named Arthur).

“[Mikael’s] probably one of the most selfish — and athletes have to be selfish in order to be successful — he’s a very selfish guy who did one of the most selfless things,” Wahlberg explains of why the story spoke to him. “And when he was so close and could literally reach out and touch the thing that always meant the most to him, he was willing to sacrifice that to save Arthur, [changing the] trajectory of his life forever.”

Wahlberg says the training he underwent for the role was different than in past projects.

“Look, it’s not any type of bodybuilding contest out there. It’s who can suffer the most and who can have the most mental fortitude and toughness,” he says, noting how he trained like he was really going to do the days-long adventure race. “When I was doing it, it felt like I could actually be the part until day one when I tore my meniscus and all that went out the window.”

Another perk of being 52.

Wahlberg says that everyone was worried and nervous that production was going to shut down because of the injury.

“Mikael just had a big smile on his face,” he recalls, “like now you can actually get a taste of what it’s like to suffer out there because there’s no relief. … The guys and the gals who can take the most are usually the ones who win.”

Arthur the King opens in theaters on Friday, March 15.

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