Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg has said that denying his Christian faith would be a “sin” in a widely circulated NBC interview filmed on Ash Wednesday.
The actor, a practising Catholic, appeared on NBC’s the Today Show on Ash Wednesday to discuss the importance of his religion, telling the programme: “I do not deny my faith”.
Wahlberg, 51, appeared on the programme with his ashes on Ash Wednesday, a day of repentance in the Catholic Church.
During the day, which marks the beginning of lent, the drawing of a cross on a person’s forehead sanctified ashes, is a sign of repentance and humility, with the priest declaring, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.
Marking the start of lent on the morning talk show, Wahlberg opened up on how Catholicism has shifted his focus to being a “better version of himself”. He said that while religion is “not popular” in Hollywood, his faith remains paramount.
“I have always talked about my faith,” he told Today host Savannah Guthrie, “It’s a balance. I don’t want to jam it down anybody’s throat, but I do not deny my faith.
“That’s an even bigger sin,” he said, as he detailed the apparent opposition that exists in the world of fame and fortune.
“You know, it’s not popular in my industry, but, you know, I cannot deny my faith. It’s important for me to share that with people”.
The Boogie Nights actor starred in the faith-based film Father Stu, a biographical drama film which casted Wahlberg as Stuart Long, a boxer-turned-Catholic priest who lives with a progressive muscle disorder.
The 51-year-old is reported to have spent “millions and millions” of his own money making the film, inspired by Mel Gibson who invested $30m (£23m) of his own money into the 2004 Christian film The Passion of the Christ.
However, Wahlberg insisted the movie’s success was not down to him “because this is God choosing me to make the film”.
“He [God] knows finally I get to utilise all the talents and gifts that have been bestowed upon me for his greater good and to serve my part in his big picture. I mean, I prayed every day about getting this film made.”
In the ash Wednesday interview, the actor expanded on what his faith means to him, telling the programme: “It’s everything. Ir’s afforded me so many things”.
“God didn’t come to save the saints,” the Boston native said. “He came to save the sinners. We’ve all had issues in our lives and we want to be better versions of ourselves, and through focusing on my faith, it’s allowed me to do that”.
Wahlberg and his wife have raised their four children, aged 12-18 in the Catholic faith, with his son Michael making his confirmation last year, and Wahlberg sharing about the sacrament on social media, along with posting photos of his son on his confirmation day.
While this is not the first time Wahlberg has spoken about his faith so publicly, he says he does not push his politics onto fans.
In 2016, Walhberg said many Hollywood celebrities were “living in a bubble,” when he was asked about celebrity advocacy during the presidential election. During the press event, he raised his head above the parapet by claiming that many of his showbiz colleagues were out of touch with normal people.
“It just goes to show you that people aren’t listening to [them] anyway,” he said. “They might buy your CD or watch your movie, but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills.
“A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble,” Wahlberg added.
“They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family,” he said at the time. “Me, I’m very aware of the real world. I come from the real world, and I exist in the real world.
“Although I can navigate Hollywood, and I love the business and the opportunities it’s afforded me, I also understand what it’s like not to have all that,” he said at the time.