Following in the footsteps of Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, and Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Wahlberg threw his health out the window and lost a shocking amount of weight for his role in the upcoming thriller The Gambler. At the AFI Fest premiere of the film in Hollywood on Monday, Nov. 10, the two-time Oscar nominee opened up about his decision to drop 60 pounds to play college professor and high-stakes gambler Jim Bennett. The fictional story, based on the 1974 film of the same name, required Wahlberg to be “as thin as possible,” according to director Rupert Wyatt.
“I went from 197 to — the lightest I’d ever been in a movie was in Boogie Nights, I was 138 — so I wanted to beat that,” the 5’8” star said at a post-screening discussion. “I beat it by a pound, so 137. I was losing weight while we were shooting the movie too so continuity kind of went out of the window.”
Though he clearly put everything into the role, the studio still had one major concern — the actor’s lips were visibly blue due to his lack of nutrition.
“No energy, no nutrition, and the studio, there was a complaint about that, that my lips were always looking blue,” Wahlberg said. “What the f—k do you want me to do? I haven’t eaten anything! If you make them red, I’m going to look weird, like I’ve got lipstick on, so it is what it is.”
The Lone Survivor star, who had recently bulked back up for his role in Transformers: Age of Extinction, had four months to drop the pounds, which he continued to do throughout filming.
“Once I get into it I can’t stop, so it’s a 24 hour, 7 days a week thing,” Wahlberg explained. “I stopped eating food for the first 6 weeks and just had small liquids throughout the day, then I was exercising two or three times a day.”
Though he’s already been praised for his dedication to the role, the father of four didn’t find fans in his kids or wife Rhea Durham.
“They didn’t like it,” he admitted. “My wife was a little freaked out I was losing so much weight. I’m training now for this other thing and my daughter’s like ‘You should quit your job, you should become a bodybuilder.’ She’s just being sarcastic. She’s probably heard her mother say something. Now I’m training twice a day for this other movie and they just give me a hard time about everything. But I tell them, hard work pays off. I wouldn’t be in this position if I didn’t work as hard as I do. My worst fear is not being prepared. If you’re prepared you have the best chance of success.”
While they may not approve of his extreme tactics, Wahlberg’s kids are desperate to see all of their dad’s films.
“They don’t understand why they can’t see Ted because they think ‘Oh it’s just you and a teddy bear dad we definitely ought to be able to see this one!’” he said of the raunchy, R-rated comedy. “They’ve seen Invincible because it’s a Disney movie and my sons are both football players. They saw Transformers. I tried to cover their ears for a good portion of it. Anytime there were bad words my wife wasn’t happy about it. And I took my boys into see the very beginning of Lone Survivor, but then once the swearing and the blood started, I had to take them out. They love it, there’s nothing traumatic about it.”