Q & A: Mark Wahlberg

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Actor Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg is nominated for an Oscar for The Departed; HBO's Entourage, which Wahlberg produces, is loosely based on his life. He spoke with TIME's Rebecca Winters Keegan. How did a youth of crime inform your work in The Departed? I had a lot to draw upon. There's a fine line between cops and crooks in Boston. Guys I got in trouble with went on to become cops. Through the movie, I was able to close the door on that chapter of my life.

Your favorite Boston slang?

Dirtball or maggot. With the accent, they're Boston insults.

How did you make the leap from music to film?

I never tried to juggle both. I stopped releasing records and only concentrated on acting.

Weren't you acting when you were rapper Marky Mark?

I was acting well before that. I've always been a con artist, trying to talk my way out of trouble — or into it.

Did you keep any of your Boogie Nights wardrobe?

I kept a key prop. I've got it locked away in a closet in my office. I don't usually keep things from movies, but that thing could be valuable one day. I could sell it on eBay.

You were supposed to be on a morning flight out of Boston on 9/11. Why didn't you go?

I left Boston a week earlier. My friends and I decided to charter a plane and go up to Canada to go to see a friend's film at the Toronto Film Festival.

How realistic is Entourage's depiction of actors' extravagant spending?

The first purchase I made when I got a check for $100,000 was a Mercedes for $100,000. I didn't have money left over for insurance and gas.

Who's in your entourage now?

The new entourage is my girls, a nanny, a diaper bag. You're supposed to grow up and become responsible.

I never pegged you as a golfer.

It's the sport that I vowed never to play because I like contact sports. It seems like it shouldn't even be called a sport, but it's the most challenging, relaxing, frustrating game ever invented.