The hotel near Rittenhouse Square should put a plaque on the door of one of its luxary rooms: The Mark Wahlberg Suite.Every time the actor is in Philadelphia, and he’s shot four movies here, he requests the same accommodations.
It’s not just that the suite has two bedrooms and a kitchen, handy for when his family comes to visit during a shoot. He has an emotional attachment to the place.
“Actually my son was conceived in this hotel,” he says during an interview on the premises.
That makes Brendan, who will be a month old this week, an honorary Philadelphian. Just like his dad.
Ever since 2006’s “Invincible,” when he played Vince Papale, a neighborhood guy who became a walk-on with the Eagles, Wahlberg, 37, has been adopted by the city.
“I love this town,” says Wahlberg, who’s also been here to film “Shooter,” “The Happening” and the forthcoming “The Lovely Bones.” “I feel very at home here. Once you put on the Eagles uniform, as long as you do them proud and give your all, as long as you don’t pull a T.O., they’re going to love you forever.”
At the moment, he’s here promoting “Max Payne,” an explosive action film that opens Friday.
He’s traveling with castmate Chris Bridges, better know as the rapper Ludacris.
Both men agree that the film, a revenge saga based on a third-person shooter video game was a challenging shoot.
“We were out in the freezing cold in Toronto in the dead of winter all night long, every night, trying to make it as real as possible,” says Wahlberg, who plays the title character.
Adding to the discomfort was the fact that Max spends a considerable amount of time either underwater or in a downpour.
“That was the first day of shooting,” Wahlberg says of the deluge. “It was probably like 10 below when they turned on the rain machines. But Max is not going to look cool with mittens on and a winter hat and a raincoat and umbrella.
“I began to wish about four weeks into it that I decided to do a romantic comedy,” he continues, “where you’re sitting in a room with somebody that’s very attractive and telling jokes.”
“This was the first time I got a piece of the real action action,” Bridges said in a separate interview. “There’s stuff blowing up, and if a shot doesn’t go right, you got to do it again and again and again.”
Playing an internal affairs officer investigating Max was a departure for Bridges, 31, who cut his teeth on 2004’s “Crash” and 2005’s “Hustle & Flow.”
“What set it apart is me wearing the police garb and wearing the police holster and being in that mind-set, as opposed to being a criminal,” he says. “The best part of this movie is I get to point a gun at Mark Wahlberg.”
Bridges is having quite a month, between “Max Payne” and “RocknRolla,” in which he plays a rocker’s manager.
Still, Wahlberg is the movie star in this tandem, with an Oscar nomination for his gritty performance in 2006’s “The Departed.” His high profile earned him an Andy Samberg spoof this month on “Saturday Night Live,” but it also pulls down up to $15 million a film, a fee that promises to go up if “Max” is a hit.
As his star rises in Hollywood, so does the ravenous attention of the paparazzi.
“I’d always look at Tom Cruise and people like that,” said Wahlberg, “and they go to a (kids’) soccer game and they’re being photographed and I’m like, ‘Why would you go to the game if you’re going to drag a bunch of photographers around with you and make everybody else feel uncomfortable?’
“But now they’re following me to my daughter’s soccer game and I feel badly but I’m going to my daughter’s soccer game. That’s just how it is.”
The determination of the tabloid press can be scary.
“I understand they’re trying to pay the bills,” the actor said. “But when some strange guy is following you in a car and flying through red lights just to stay on you, back in the day that meant one of two things: the cops or the robbers.”
Wahlberg got to know both groups growing up the youngest of nine in a family in the Dorchester area of Boston. A high school dropout, he became a violent delinquent, precipitating numerous brushes with the law.
His shady youth has proved surprisingly useful in his acting career.
“I don’t have any training as an actor. But I have all this real-life experience I can tap into for special occasions,” says the actor, who next year is to marry his longtime girlfriend, Rhea Durham, the mother of his three children.