After 51 Movies, Mark Wahlberg Still Hasn’t Paid Off His $20 Million Villain Role From 28 Years Ago

Mark Wahlberg has starred in 51 movies over the last 28 years, but he has yet to pay off this one villain role in a $20 million thriller from 1996.

Mark Wahlberg as Stuart Long in Father Stu

SUMMARY

 Mark Wahlberg has not played a proper movie villain in 28 years since David McCall in 1996’s Fear.
 Despite his success in various genres, Wahlberg’s recent movies have not been critically or commercially successful.
 Returning to a villain role may be the solution to Wahlberg’s unfortunate movie streak and could revitalize his film career.

Mark Wahlberg has yet to pay off his chilling villain role from 28 years ago, despite starring in 51 movies since the $20 million thriller. As he started to transition from Marky Mark the rapper to big-time movie star, Wahlberg made his acting debut in the 1993 TV movie The Substitute. The following year, he made his official screen debut in Renaissance Man opposite Danny Devito in 1994, kicking off a 30-year film career.

Over the past three decades, Wahlberg has played all kinds of roles in more than 50 movies. He most often plays action heroes, but he’s also ventured into other genres, like comedy and drama. Though he usually stars as the leading man in his film work, some of Mark Wahlberg’s best movies involve him playing a supporting role, like his Oscar-nominated performance in Martin Scorsese’s 2007 crime thriller The Departed. Despite playing a variety of different character types in his career, it’s been 28 years since Wahlberg played a proper villain onscreen in one of his first film roles ever.

Mark Wahlberg Hasn’t Played A Movie Villain Since 1996’s Fear

Wahlberg played David McCall in the psychological thriller

David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) stares menacingly at the camera in Fear (1996).David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) smirks in Fear (1996).Mark Wahlberg & Reese Witherspoon in Fear (1996)Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon look at each other in Fear (1996).Mark Wahlberg & Reese Witherspoon in Fear (1996)

After starring in TheBasketball Diaries opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in 1995, Wahlberg landed his first leading role in James Foley’s psychological thriller Fear in 1996. He played 23-year-old David McCall (the same age Wahlberg was while filming Fear) opposite Reese Witherspoon as 16-year-old Nicole Walker. Although Nicole is charmed by David at first, his true colors begin to show as he becomes completely obsessed with her and their relationship turns dark.

After striking fear into the hearts of viewers and Witherspoon’s Nicole 28 years ago, Wahlberg hasn’t played a proper villain in a movie since Fear.

Although the movie was not well-received by critics, holding a 46% score on Rotten Tomatoes, Wahlberg can be genuinely terrifying as David at certain points in Fear. He’s the scariest kind of villain, one who is presented as perfect to both the characters and, to an extent, the audience, before the veil is lifted and his evil is revealed. After striking fear into the hearts of viewers and Witherspoon’s Nicole 28 years ago, Wahlberg hasn’t played a proper villain in a movie since Fear.

The fact that Wahlberg last played a villain 28 years ago in one of his first roles ever is surprising, especially considering he’s starred in over 50 movies in that time.

That’s not to say Wahlberg hasn’t played some morally questionable characters since David McCall in Fearsuch as the morally corrupt ex-con bodybuilder Daniel Lugo in Michael Bay’s 2013 action comedy Pain & Gain. However, none of his roles have been straight-up, indisputable villains in their respective stories, especially not to the degree that David is. The fact that Wahlberg last played a villain 28 years ago in one of his first roles ever is surprising, especially considering he’s starred in over 50 movies in that time.

Returning To A Villain Role Could Be The Answer To Fixing Mark Wahlberg’s Disappointing Movie Streak

Wahlberg hasn’t starred in a critical or commercial hit in a while

Mark Wahlberg as Victor Sullivan in Uncharted pointing a pistol offscreenMark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne looking off-screen in Instant FamilyKevin Hart standing next to Mark Wahlberg in Netflix's Me TimeMark Wahlberg looking in a mirror in Father Stu

Although it’s been almost 30 years since the actor has stepped into the villain’s shoes onscreen, perhaps playing the bad guy is exactly what Wahlberg needs to get out of his recent movie slump. None of Wahlberg’s movies in the last few years have been received well by critics, nor have they performed well at the box office (via Box Office Mojo). Other than 2022’s Uncharted, which saw significant profit by making $407 million worldwide at the box office, more than triple Uncharted‘s $120 million budget, none of Wahlberg’s movies over the last few years have been particularly lucrative.

Given the lack of critical or commercial success for the actor’s movies as of late, it couldn’t hurt to try out the villain role again instead of the funny man or action hero archetypes Wahlberg is used to playing.

He also hasn’t starred in a movie that’s “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes since Instant Family in 2018, which has an 82% score on the Tomatometer. In the six years since then, he’s starred in eight movies, all of which have been deemed “Rotten” by critics. In fact, he earned the lowest critics score of his career on Rotten Tomatoes with Me Time in 2022, which sits at a pitiful 7% on the Tomatometer.

Given the lack of critical or commercial success for the actor’s movies as of late, it couldn’t hurt to try out the villain role again instead of the funny man or action hero archetypes Wahlberg is used to playing. It would definitely be unexpected which could work in his favor. MarkWahlberg has the potential to produce his best performance in years by stepping out of his comfort zone and entering his onscreen villain era, which could lead to renewed success in his film career.

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