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"I don't have any female friends"
November, 2000

"I don't have any female friends"

Mark Wahlberg says he's attracted to women for purely physical reasons - but feels that he really ought to grow up. Mark Wahlberg knows where he's going wrong with women. He confesses that he's driven purely by sex, rather than by anything deeper. "I've got to become more mature," says the 29-year-old star.

"I'm not proud to report that I've never had a really good friendship with any of the women I've been in a relationship with. It's always physical attraction." "When I meet a woman, I'm not interested in her if she has great taste in arts or a good sense of humor. I just notice whether or not she's got great breasts. The result is that, after all these years of dating and relationships, I don't have a true female friend."

But he's still close to his mother Alma, who stuck by him through a series of disasters, including a 45-day jail term after he was caught stealing, high on drugs and attacking people in the street.

"I don't need to steal these days. I can afford things now," says Mark, who grew up in a tough district of Boston as part of a family of nine children. "I'd like some emotional stability in my life, but I don't know whether I'm mature enough to handle it," he adds. "I'd also like to have children - lots of them - but only within a marriage."

Married life still seems far away for mark who, after a short career as rap star Marky Mark, has reinvented himself as an actor in such films as Boogie Nights, Three Kings and The Perfect Storm and can command more than GBP 2 million a film. He includes Reece Witherspoon - now married to Ryan Phillippe - and model and actress Jordanna Brewster among previous relationships. Now he's single - and available.

"For a long time, I never thought I'd even make my 30th birthday," he says. "Now I'm less than a year away from it and still trying to figure out what live and love is all about." Yet, despite his admission about women, Mark is a God-fearing man who counts a local Catholic priest, Father Flavin, as one of his biggest influences.

"When I make love with a girlfriend, I pray," he says. "I feel guilty. The first thing I do is say: "I'm sorry. I know we're not married and we shouldn't be having sex." I also pray for my family and friends and for people who don't have God in their lives." Mark was brought up by Catholic parents in a three-bedroom apartment. He slept in one bedroom with his five brothers. His three sisters were in another and his parents in a third. But his parents marriage broke up when Mark was 11 and this had a devastating effect.

"My childhood was wild," he says. "Crime was a way of life for the street gangs I know." "I got into more and more trouble. It's a wonder they didn't lock me up and throw away the key. Somehow I survived and had a chance to do something with my life." Ironically, in his new movie Yards he plays a character who behaves just like he used to himself. "I robbed a lot of people in real life," he admits. "On the night I was eventually caught, our gang was raiding a pharmacy to steal scratch cards." "The pharmacist was about to close and a security guard was outside with a stick with a hook on it to pull down the iron gates. When he put the stick down, I grabbed it and hit him with it." "We ran behind the counter and took all these scratch cards, plus money out of the cash register. Then we went down another street. We'd been drinking all night and we stopped some guy carrying two cases of beer. I hit him across the arm so he dropped the beer. "The cops were called and we were involved in more fighting. I went to jail after that night - I was just 17 when they sentenced me. Even when I was released I was on probation."

While Mark served his time, older brother Donnie had launched the New Kids On The Block, which quickly became a teen sensation. "There was no point saying that I could have been in the band, rather than behind the bars," he says. "That was just the way it was. I had a chance to work on my life at that early stage and I just didn't take it. But the day I went to prison was the big turning point. There was no looking back." Mark was handed another chance, at first with the contacts brother Donnie had made, and he launched his band Marky Mark And The Funky Bunch. Then came his own fierce determination to make it as an actor.

His breakthrough came three years ago, playing Dirk Diggler, a '70s porn star with a 13in penis in Boogie Nights. It had a remarkable final scene in which the audience was given a view of his enormous organ.

"It was a prosthetic," says Mark. "For some reason, no one seems to believe that. They really think I'm enormous. I even got followed to the bathroom at the Dorchester Hotel in London. "But I have the think in my safe at home. It's my priced possession because you never know when it's going to come in useful. It ahs to be one of the most unusual film props in history." Mark is a slight 5ft 7in tall, which he's clearly conscious of. "I'm told that I look taller on screen," he says. "One girlfriend said: "You look about 6ft 2in on screen." People look at me and say: "My God, what happened?" I can look pretty ordinary away from films. The camera does things to all of us."

So who does Mark find sexiest on screen? "Salma Hayek, " he says. "Jodie Foster is also beautiful. Of all the women I've worked with, Heather Graham is amazingly sexy and Julianne Moore is beyond beautiful." "But I must get a girlfriend of my own - and one I can really care for. I'm working all the time and haven't had chance to let a relationship develop. But one day, believe it or not, I'll be a family man".

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