Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg
Wahlberg, a former Calvin Klein model, says acting came naturally. "I've always felt that I could be better than everyone else because I had so much real-life experience."
Chris Delmas/VISUALPressAgency

10/07/2004 AT 06:00 AM EDT

Becoming a dad changes everything – even for a tough guy like Mark Wahlberg. "It's the best," the I Heart Huckabees star says of raising his 1-year-old daughter, Ella Rae, with his girlfriend, model Rhea Durham. The 33-year-old actor – who was the inspiration for and is the executive-producer of the HBO series Entourage, about the fast life of a young Hollywood up-and-comer – now prefers to spend his time golfing and hanging out with family. Wahlberg recently talked about slowing down, playing daddy and contemplating retirement.

You had said you were nervous about becoming a father. Are you just putty in her hands now?
Oh yeah. She knows that I can't say no.

You took a year off to spend time with your family. Were you worried about the competition in Hollywood getting by you?
I've been doing this for too long to care anymore. It's not something that I'm going to do forever. … I have other interests. Golf. My daughter.

Are you talking about retirement?
Yeah. I mean, I wouldn't say that I'm not coming back. If (director) David (O. Russell) wanted me to work I would certainly work with friends and for friends. But yeah, I don't want to do this forever.

How has fatherhood changed you?
It changes everything. It certainly changes the decisions that I make in the future, the kinds of films that I do and the kinds of things that I put out there. I certainly would have a hard time accepting a role like (porn star Dirk Diggler in) Boogie Nights now that I have a daughter. I mean, I'm going to have to explain it anyway, but I was a different person then.

So no more sex and violence?
Yeah, especially if it's just to get paid. If it's real art, then it depends on the project. I mean, I'm really just at a different place.

What about marriage?
Soon, hopefully.
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