Mark Wahlberg may play a tough guy in the movies, but this reformed bad boy is just trying to get and stay right with the Lord.
On Monday, March 2, actor Wahlberg dropped by NBC's Today to talk about his new Netflix action-comedy Spenser Confidential, which drops on March 6. But along the way, he and host Harry Smith detoured into Wahlberg's daily prayer life and devotional practices.
When's the last time you saw that on network morning TV?
Wahlberg, 48, is a Catholic revert -- someone who let go the practice of his faith and then returned to it. I used to see him at Mass at my parish in the L.A. area, where he later married his live-in girlfriend, Rhea Durham, with whom he already had three children. In his youth in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Wahlberg was also involved in drugs and had serious run-ins with the law. Before turning to acting and producing, he also had a career as a rapper.
Has he led a perfect life? Nope, far from it. But Wahlberg, now a father of four, has been working overtime to make up for it.
Click here to watch Wahlberg's whole conversation with Smith; below is the section where the talk turned to faith...
SMITH: The thing I'm most intrigued by is that you take time every day to pray.
WAHLBERG: That's the most important thing. I take a day off, I take two days a week off from the gym now. I don't take a day off from getting on my hands and my knees and reading my prayer book and my daily devotionals and, first of all, expressing the gratitude that I have for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. And then, of course, asking for the strength and guidance to be able to use the talents and gifts that God's given me to help others and inspire and know what right is and to do so ... to be the best husband I can be, best father I can be.
SMITH: How much time does it take?
WAHLBERG: You know, it's funny because as I meet people along the way, and I add people to my prayers. If I see somebody in public eye, or that I read in the newspaper somebody that's struggling, somebody that has a child that's having a health issue, stuff like that -- I add them to my prayers, and I usually ended up keeping them in my prayers. So it's now 20 minutes of praying, actual praying, and then my reading and stuff like that.
SMITH: Right. Do you have a favorite scripture?
WAHLBERG: The daily devotional, every day, I think. The idea of being good soil and bearing good fruit, where it's sprinkled, how it's used, how you absorb that information. Do you really retain that information? Yeah. Those are the more powerful things.
SMITH: How does it inform your day?
WAHLBERG: It just puts things in perspective. I mean, I remind myself every day how fortunate I am and how blessed I am and how so many people are not, and to be able to just remind myself what I should be doing, how I should be doing it, to be a positive, productive member of the community and the Church.
It's just, it's what's keeping me going. I think if I, I've been put in this position for a reason, it's not to forget about where I came from. I have to utilize these talents and gifts that have been given to me to help others, to inspire others. So that's a challenge because if you're giving all these, if you're given all these things and you don't do the right thing with them, it's not going to be good.
SMITH: There is a verse in the Bible that says, "To whom much has been given, much is not expected, but actually required."
WAHLBERG: Yes, of course. And you think about those talents and gifts that you were given. Somebody was given one, one little gift and talent, and he didn't want to take any risk, he didn't go and utilize it and getting tenfold on his investment, buried in the ground, and God didn't like that.
SMITH: He was not impressed.
WAHLBERG: No, not at all.
SMITH: It's amazing to me, to be in the business you are in, and for us to be sitting here having this conversation. Does anybody ever ask you about it? Does anybody ever say, any of your colleagues say, what do you get out of it? Or does anybody ever say, I read about you doing all this stuff?
WAHLBERG: Yeah, look, I don't, I will not hide the fact that I love the Lord, and I want to be committed to serving the Lord, but I also don't jam it down anybody's throat. But it's better to never have known God than to deny God. I mean, that's not a good look. That's not a good look. So that being said, there are people that I'm close to that I will send devotionals to and try to encourage them.
You know, it's like when people are dealing with loss. And it seems like now, at 48 years old, dealing with a lot more loss now than I ever had. It seems like every other day I'm losing somebody that I know that I'm close to. And so, when people are dealing with loss and knowing that it can be devastating to somebody, but also what comfort and joy does it bring when you know that there is something else. There is now no more pain, no more suffering, an eternity of love and joy and all of those things. And even if you live to 150, life is still short. Right? So I don't know, it gives me me comfort.
SMITH: Does it make you a better parent?
WAHLBERG: Yeah, I mean, I pray for the patience. It's also too, with my kids, I want to be an example to my children. They're getting a faith-based education, but I don't force them to go to church with me, but they know that it is not, it's not even an option for me to not go to Mass or to not take my time to pray and to do those things. And hopefully they'll say, "Wow, well that works for Dad," and maybe they'll get a little bit more curious, and they'll slowly start to gravitate towards that. But I got to be an example with my work ethic, with my commitment to my faith, my commitment to my family and those things.
Wahlberg -- the star of such films as Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day and Mile 22 -- may start his day with prayer, but that working day then often includes a lot of running and gunning and action -- as evidenced in this trailer for Spenser Confidential, which is very loosely based on writer Robert B. Parker's Spenser character, and on a novel called Wonderland, by Ace Atkins. It co-stars Winston Duke and Alan Arkin.
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager and blog editor at Family Theater Productions.