With a set of biceps that could double as howitzers, Mark Wahlberg is one of Hollywood’s few actors with a legit claim to 24/7 badassery. And that’s especially true when it comes to sports.
Whether he’s taking in a Los Angeles Lakers game with his wife, playing softball with his family, or making bets with Bubba Watson at the Masters, there’s no doubt that Wahlberg is a major-league sports fan. Heck, back when he was calling himself Marky Mark, the guy managed to earn a spot at MTV’s Rock N’ Jock B-Ball Jam in 1991.
And like any Boston native, Wahlberg has plenty of love for his local teams, too: He’s thrown out the first pitch at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox, and he’s hung out with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in his private box. He’s even producing the HBO show Ballers, which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a retired NFL player turned money manager to pro athletes.
But if there’s a moment when Mark Wahlberg really steps up his sports love into the big leagues, it’s his moviemaking career. He may not be a pro athlete, but he’s a believable one onscreen—especially when he’s playing scrappy, big-hearted underdogs whose primary athletic skill seems to be their ability to take a hit and keep on going.
Here, we’ve compiled our five favorite Wahlberg sporting moments. Think of it as a one-man highlight reel.
Mark Wahlberg stars on the May 2016 issue of Men’s Fitness—click here to download the issue now or pick up a copy on newsstands on April 25.
5. The Other Guys, 2010
Wahlberg and Will Ferrell star as unlikely buddy cops in this comedy from director-writer Adam McKay. Dwayne Johnson also appears in the film as a hotshot detective, and almost steals the show in one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
As a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, Wahlberg got to live out a dream scenario during The Other Guys filming. In an early scene of the movie, Wahlberg’s character, Terry Hoitz, is on patrol at Yankee Stadium during the World Series, where he’s searching the dugout tunnel area for any suspicious activity. Hoitz sees someone in the shadows carrying a baseball bat, but after the figure doesn’t listen to his commands, he fires his weapon. That figure turns out to be Yankees star Derek Jeter, who couldn’t hear Hoitz because he was listening to an iPod. The incident earns Hoitz the nickname “The Yankee Clipper”—and a partner in Ferrell’s forensic accountant Allen Gamble.
“It was a lot of fun. I actually kicked him around on the ground a couple times after I shot him,” Wahlberg told MTV News while promoting the film.
4. Pain & Gain, 2013
In this Michael Bay-directed passion project, Wahlberg, Johnson (notice a trend here?), and Anthony Mackie play three gym rats who get mixed up in a wild scheme. Wahlberg portrays the absurdly jacked but scatterbrained Daniel Lugo, the ringleader of the so-called “Sun Gym gang,” as they attempt to kidnap and extort a wealthy gym member.
One of the most memorable moments of the movie is a montage of Wahlberg—showing off his huge arms and cut body—speaking over scenes of people pumping iron at the gym. The montage bounces around as Lugo works to motivate himself in the gym and at home, talking about fitness, exercise, the “American Dream,” and trying to become more successful. The montage finishes off at an event from motivational speaker Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong), with Wahlberg’s character screaming “I’m a do-er!”:
3. The Fighter, 2010
In one of Wahlberg’s most critically acclaimed roles, the actor portrays professional boxer Micky Ward.
Directed by David O. Russell, the boxing scenes feel ultra-realistic, mostly because because Wahlberg did his own stunts in the film. Wahlberg trained for years while trying to get the film made, including sneaking workouts while preparing for other films. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won Oscars at the Academy Awards for their supporting roles in the film, while Wahlberg earned a nomination for Best Picture for producing the film.
One of the best scenes is the battle between Ward and Alfonso Sanchez, which shows just how down-and-dirty Wahlberg got while making the film:
2. Four Brothers, 2005
While not a sports movie in the same sense as The Fighter, the John Singleton-directed Four Brothers features one of the best basketball scenes in recent cinematic memory. Wahlberg, along with Tyrese Gibson, André Benjamin, and Garrett Hedlund, play the titular brothers, who are searching for answers after their adoptive mother is gunned down in a robbery.
In what is probably the most memorable scene of the movie—the final ice fight scene notwithstanding—the group shows up to a high school basketball game looking for answers about the crime. Wahlberg takes charge despite not having a plan, saying “we’re winging it,” and walks out onto the court during the middle of the game. He grabs the ball and starts dribbling around, beating up one of the players in the process.
Wahlberg announces to the crowd from center court that he is looking for a witness to the murder. Once the group finds the witness, Wahlberg thanks the crowd and walks off, leaving the basketball bouncing behind him. The perfect mic drop move:
1. Invincible, 2006
Wahlberg portrays Vince Papale in this feel-good biopic about a Philadelphia man who, despite his athletic inability and humble background—yeah, we know, we’ve heard that one before—ends up getting a walk-on chance with the Eagles. It’s a true story: Papale made the team and played for the Eagles from 1976 to 1978, appearing at wide receiver and on special teams.
The inspirational film ends with Papale appearing in a game against the New York Giants and making a key play for Philadelphia. Papale races down the field towards the return man on a punt, causing a fumble with his tackle. Papale picks up the ball and runs it into the endzone for a touchdown.
Okay, yeah, the touchdown was discounted in real life—technically the return man muffed the punt, meaning the ball was dead at that spot—but c’mon. Are you gonna deny Mark Wahlberg Vince Papale a game-winning touchdown? No you are not.
BONUS: Entourage, 2004-2011
Wahlberg served as executive producer of this show—which was based on his life and experiences in Hollywood—and made multiple memorable cameos over the years.
Two of those appearances have come on the golf course—a place where Wahlberg told Men’s Fitness he is very comfortable—including one scene with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. In another scene, Wahlberg hits the course with agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), and talks about the recent developments in the career of Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier).
Wahlberg’s first appearance on the show comes in the pilot episode, when he crosses paths with Chase and his guys. Wahlberg chides Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) for not paying back a favor, and says to Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) that the two should “tee it up” and play some golf—which was likely inspired by the beginnings of Wahlberg’s own golf habit.