Hollywood was once all about tradecraft. But not any more, as Mark Wahlbergs ridiculously brilliant daily schedule makes all too clear
When the famously dissolute movie star John Barrymore died, having spent much of the last year of his life passed out at Errol Flynns house, the brilliant character actor Peter Lorre bribed the funeral homes director to loan him the corpse for a night. Lorre, Humphrey Bogart and a couple of others sneaked into Flynns Mulholland Drive home while he was shooting late, arranged the body in a chair near the bar, then hid and waited. When Flynn returned home from set, he nodded at Barrymore, and continued to walk over to fix himself a drink. After a few steps, Flynn froze. He went back to the chair, touched Barrymores ice-cold body, then shouted: All right, you bastards, come on out!
I know what youre thinking. This is all very well; but did any of these ill-disciplined men make Daddys Home 2, Mark Wahlbergs highly called-for sequel to his turn in Daddys Home? Alas not. At the time of this late-night incident, Bogart was shooting a picture called Casablanca, and though well probably never know his workout schedule for the movie, I guess we can say for sure that he could bench-press at least a quarter of John Barrymore. But only after tipping-out time at the Cocoanut Grove.
And so to the much-remarked-upon daily routine of Wahlberg, which is here reproduced in full:
2.30am wake up
2.45am prayer time
5:30am post-workout meal
9:30am cryo chamber recovery
11:00am family time/meetings/work calls
2:00pm meetings/work calls
3:00pm pick up kids @ school
4:00pm workout #2
5:30pm dinner/family time
Hey, dont knock it. Its called acting.
Or is it? Is that what this life is? For many, Marks schedule is the equivalent of letting daylight in on tragic. Once the inspiration for Entourage indeed, that comfortingly silly series and his Calvin Klein adverts are Marks sole serious contributions to the culture of the past three decades our hero now exists in a permanent state of physical readiness for creative challenges unspecified.
Instead of an actor, then, perhaps it makes better sense to think of Mark as the machine on which a small community of people depend for their livelihoods. Think of him as an ancient loom, or an 18th-century plough. The contraption must be maintained at almost all costs, or the economic ecosystem collapses. Or perhaps you prefer to picture Mark as a corporation, with his abs expected to post quarterly results. And by quarterly, I mean per quarter of each day.
Hes hardly alone. These days, Gwyneth Paltrow has almost stopped acting entirely, and reversed her business model into the business of what being an actor apparently entails. Which is to say, an extreme form of highly monetised physical self-obsession. There is a point where you have so many accessory muscles to target and so many crystals to place in your orifices that you literally dont have time to look into a camera 27 times and say: Will that be all, Mr Stark?
Looking at the physiques of a good seven of the top 10 highest-grossing Hollywood stars, including the aforementioned Mr Stark, it feels as if an actors tradecraft long ago shifted on its axis. The bit where you pretend to be someone else as part of an artistic project is really such a small percentage of the life that it occupies far less of the schedule than juicing. And infinitely less of the schedule than talking about juicing.
Its a real cross to bear. Almost literally in the case of Tom Cruise, whose insistence on sacrificing his corporeal self in the cause of the Mission Impossible franchise is increasingly messianic.
Then theres Daniel Craig, whose James Bond role has bafflingly yet to draw the attentions of the Victoria Cross committee. I work myself to death, he explained during the promotional tour for Spectre. Its getting harder. But such is life. Keen not to miss out on this scintillating discussion, the movies actual producer gave interviews about Craigs thighs. He went into a six-month physical thing that really transformed his body. Ive never seen anything like it. He must have added, I dont know, 10 inches to his thighs and the whole chest. He actually transformed himself. And he kept at it. And he eats this scientifically controlled diet all the time, and he goes to bed at nine oclock at night when hes making the movies. Hes like a monk.
Yes. I think Id rather the Russians got all of our hard drives and secret whatnots than have to listen to very much more of this. But there was more. As is increasingly common, the stars trainer got several outings on the interview circuit himself. As an ex-military man, explained this chap, I think I was uniquely placed to understand the discipline, mental strength and stamina required in order to train to become the ultimate cinema superspy, James Bond. Thank God dear Roger Moore got out before this nonsense started. Can you imagine? What is really required to become the ultimate cinema superspy, James Bond, is the ability to turn to a snake and say Hiss offf (Octopussy, 1983, dir John Glen) – and you simply cant bicep curl your way to that.
Not that bulking up is new, of course. When Jimmy Stewart wanted to enlist in the US army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he found himself below the militarys required weight, and consequently embarked on a beefing-up regimewith MGMs in-house personal trainer. Clark Gable had the opposite problem, and embarked on a Dexedrine regime. Whether the cause for which they were doing all this was more important than a movie about a man who finds himself in over his head when he and his wife adopt three kids is unclear. But at least they didnt bang on about their routines.
The mistake todays stars make is to imagine that any of this passes for conversation. It is perfectly acceptable to have a nutrition or exercise regime, and in many cases necessary. However, discussion of either is the last refuge of the most ocean-going of 21st-century bores. Should you find yourself discussing them at any length whatsoever in company, you should wake up the next morning beset by the sort of shame levels that might follow an evening of hideous drunkenness. Why did I say that? What nonsense was I blathering? Why am I such a complete idiot?
If you are updating your etiquette books, then, please be advised that the old rule that you should never discuss religion or politics in polite company has dated. Both subjects are now back on the table. Their conversational-pariah status should instead be applied to diet and exercise. If someone asks you what you do about either, you should cock your head in a manner that implies that even the question has been a faux pas; then outline your answer as absolutely briefly as possible, and ideally in fewer than 20 words; then move on to topics of greater interest. Furthermore, please never refer to any form of exercise or any exclusionary method of eating as a philosophy. Existentialism is a philosophy. Raw food is food that has not been heated above 40 degrees. Let that clear up any persistent muddling of the two.
No community needs to grasp this more urgently than celebrities. In the name of entertainment, please never speak about eating steamed fish and vegetables for dinner and drinking three litres of water each day. Please work off the principle that you are paid a lot of money, and your obligation in interviews such as this is to at least attempt, at some level, to be interesting or amusing. Remind yourself: your diet is not interesting. Your diet is in the words of Jerry Maguire an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that you will never fully tell us about.
Unless, of course, it is as brilliantly ridiculous as Mark Wahlbergs. Then you must tell the entire world about it, to add to the gaiety of all the nations. I mean, honestly even when you think of all the ghastly things the Hollywood studios have hushed up down the years, Marks day-in-the life could hold its own with 90% of them. More please, Mark, whenever you next get a spare 15 minutes.