Mark Wahlberg on Boston Bombings: 'The World Needs to Change'

04/16/2013 at 07:55 AM EDT

Bombing in Boston, Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg
Uri Schanker/Wireimage
One of Boston's most famous sons, Mark Wahlberg, said Monday that he was deeply upset by the bombings at the city's marathon, and that something must be done to stem the violence that's increasingly putting innocent lives at risk.

"It's just so upsetting," the Oscar nominee, 41, told PEOPLE at a screening of his new film, Pain & Gain, at the Crosby Street Hotel in New York, hosted by The Cinema Society and Men's Fitness.

"Obviously I've got a huge family and so many family and friends back in Boston. I don't know what exactly happened, and I don't know if everyone's okay. I'm just trying to be here [at the screening] and put on a brave face and just be a professional."

Wahlberg also put Monday's events in the larger context of the violence that continues to plague the U.S. The bombings happened four months and a day after 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"The world obviously needs to change," Wahlberg said, "If you think about all the events over the last couple years, if we can't protect our innocent women and children, then we have a serious problem."

Reporting by HAIWEN LU

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