FEATURE: LAST MAN STANDING: Mark Wahlberg

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Ever the family man, Wahlberg sounds off on just what keeps his brood close.

“If I’m not working, I’m at home with my family,” he said. “We have dinner together every night and go to church on Sundays. Growing up, my parents worked multiple jobs to put food on our table and I’m grateful now that I’m able to spend a lot of time with my kids and really be a part of their lives.”

It’s hard to imagine a superstar actor, producer and entrepreneur as such a grounded individual, but to Wahlberg, the answer to his down to earth attitude is simple.

“My faith, definitely. And a humble upbringing with eight brothers and sisters,” he said of what keeps him in check. “Besides, to my kids, I’m just ‘Daddy,’ which is more important to me than any professional success.”

And those professional successes are many. Aside from his acting and producing accolades, Wahlberg is also an entrepreneur. He recently became a partner in a high-performance water company AquaHydrate, and has a new culinary venture, Wahlburgers. To Wahlberg, the transition into business was natural.

“I’ve always been interested in business,” he said. “The entertainment industry can be fickle and I wanted to build something that would provide some stability and security for my family. Becoming a producer was a natural extension of acting, and the water and restaurants also reflect my interests.”

Training for The Fighter was actually the driving force behind Wahlberg’s involvement with AquaHydrate.

“[AquaHydrate] helped my workouts and recovery so much, I wanted to be involved in the business,” he said. Ron Burkle and Sean Combs are also a partners in this venture.

Wahlberg’s restaurant, Wahlburgers, wasn’t actually his first foray into the culinary world.

“My brother Paul is a fantastic chef,” he said. “We opened up a restaurant in Boston three years ago called Alma Nove that serves great Italian food. Paul’s favorite food is burgers, though, so it was a no-brainer to make our second venture a burger joint. There have been lines out the door since we opened.”

As far as his personal favorite at the burger joint, it’s the Thanksgiving burger– a succulent combination of ground turkey, topped with stuffing and cranberry sauce.

It’s no surprise that when asked what his favorite project to date is, Wahlberg cites both The Fighter and his Oscar nomination for The Departed.

“I would have to say The Fighter, although getting an Oscar nomination for The Departed was certainly a career highlight,” Wahlberg said. “I got to call my dad and tell him, he was so excited.  For many years, the Wahlberg name was mostly heard in the courthouses around Boston because my brothers and I were so often in trouble.  Today, it’s gratifying to see that we have really turned things around.”

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