Yes, we know he can do comedy. (There’s a reason — and not just Will Ferrell — that The Other Guys made $119 million at the box office.) But the triple threat (actor/rapper/ab-barer extraordinaire) has spent most of his career in Hollywood being lauded for his dramatic work: He truly broke out as an actor after 1997’s Boogie Nights, and scored an Oscar nomination for 2006’s The Departed. Yet, the actor known for projects like The Perfect Storm and Invincible seems to be doing his darnedest to prove that he’s Hollywood’s funniest serious actor. Not only has he signed on to star in Seth MacFarlane’s bizarro comedy Ted — about a boy who grows up with a talking teddy bear — but he also may headline Bait and Switch, a new action comedy from Universal.
That’s an impressive number of comedic projects from the actor who just proved he’s got a sharp funny bone with 2009’s Date Night. (Though he’s been exec producing Entourage for years, we’ve rarely been given the chance to see any of his comedy work in front of the cameras, with the exception of I Heart Huckabees and his little-seen movie debut, 1994’s Renaissance Man.) In fact, it seemed just a few years ago, part of Wahlberg’s mystique was that he had no sense of humor — it’s the only reason we fell for his “feud” with Saturday Night Live after Andy Samberg debuted “Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals.” But with the success of The Other Guys, and his upcoming comedy projects, could Mark Wahlberg truly become one of Hollywood’s funniest serious actors? And where would he fit in amongst some of Hollywood’s greatest genre-jumping stars, like Tom Hanks, Jon Hamm, and Meryl Streep? In my book, he gets bonus points for being hysterical in serious movies: My colleague Adam B. Vary says he cracked up watching Wahlberg’s “Bahston anger” in The Departed, while I will never stop extolling the extremely humorous virtues of the actor in M. Night Shyamalan’s incredible horrible film, The Happening. Wahlberg’s furrowed eyebrows deserved at least a Golden Globe for Musical or Comedy nomination.
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