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Boogie Nights and the moral dilemma of Marky Mark


Well… I guest you’ve heard it before. Hollywood is pretty liberal and forgiving place to work. You can have your 15 minutes of fame and lose it almost instantly. You can have come-backs and career resurrections every couple of years. But let’s talk a bit about something else. Religion. I know…. I know… Coming from an Atheist is pretty stupid topic to discuss, but bare with me. What about religion’s levitation above the entire city of Los Angeles and how religion affects acting choices and subsequent regret (or dare is say guilt) of those choices?

Mark Wahlberg raised a good subject last week with his remarks at the UIC Pavillion in Chicago. As announced by the Chicago Tribune, he and Cardinal Blase Cupich had a conversation about his efforts to encourage more youth to join the church and revealed that there were some roles (choices) he took in his past, that contradicted his religious beliefs.

“I just always hope that God is a movie fan and also forgiving, because I’ve made some poor choices in my past,” Wahlberg said, adding: ” ‘Boogie Nights‘ is up there at the top of the list.” Said the actor and find himself in a lot of scrutiny right after that.

Many perceived his remarks as ungrateful and sarcastically tried to list other more suitable „poor choice“ roles in Mark’s career- you know… quality wise. The Transformer movies, Pain & Gain, Daddy’s Home and even his singing career as Marky Mark. His role (that of Dirk Dillinger) in Boogie Nights was a fantastic breakthrough role that actually put him on the acting map, and made him respected as an actor but I digress…. I actually understand his conundrum and internal conflict that led him to say those things.

Look… he’s never been shy of letting the public know about his troubled past (being a gang member and at one point being incarcerated) and his quest for redemption though his Catholic faith. He’s one of the most devout Catholics in Hollywood and I even remember him a few years back telling the public that he turned down a role in Ang Lee’s hit movie Brokeback Mountain just because his priest told him to. Yeah… Add that to the fact that he later admitted being iffy about the gay theme of the movie and the scenes he had to have with Heath Ledger… it’s pretty obvious why he felt the role of Boogie Nights was a poor choice.

Just to be clear, Boogie Nights chronicled the rise and downfall of Eddie Adams- a high-school dropout turned 70’s porn star (named Dirk Diggler). The writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson originally wanted Leo Dicarpio for the role, but he turned it down (he was already committed to star in Titanic) and Leo recommended Mark for the job. The rest is history. Boogie Nights helped establish Wahlberg as a film actor and since he’s been nominated for an Academy Award (for acting no less).

But like I said… it’s precisely that conviction, religious upbringing and the conservative ways of his faith that led him to believe that the role in Boogie Nights was morally challenging for him. A poor choice if you will. I think he’s aware of the major push to stardom and respect he got with the role (in Boogie Nights) and I think he’s even grateful to a certain degree. It’s just he’s still 20 years later not OK with the role he had to play. He was not OK with the porn theme in the movie, the scenes he had to shoot and many other things. Just like he was not OK with thought of kissing Heath Ledger for that matter. He turned Brokeback Mountain but he couldn’t say no to Boogie Nights. Probably due to the fact that he was a young aspiring actor in 1996, or quite simply he was pressured by his agents to take the role. Whatever the reason was, he took a chance back then… but now that reason made me think.

I wonder how many actors like him had to suppress their beliefs and be professional when it came to the roles in which they were hired? Kirk Cameron, Mel Gibson, and Patricia Heaton just to name a few are religious but I wonder how many of them have roles that they consider to be poor choices? Plenty?


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