Who let that skank-monkey in here, eh?
Nobody’s saying it, exactly (this is Toronto, after all, where niceness is the much-abused drug of choice), but as Mark Wahlberg steps into the crowded bar atop the Park Hyatt, they’re definitely thinking it. A study in sleaze, he’s got a couple of days’ worth of patchy beard growth going, and his hair is, well, it’s bad—just a little too long to do as it’s told, despite being greasy enough to lube a Humvee. A pair of work gloves hang out of his back pocket, and he’s wearing a black-and-white Roots track jacket, a favor to his pal, who owns the company. He’s not an especially big guy, but he carries himself with brute confidence, relishing the way his presence crackles through the room as one patron after another experiences a flutter of irritation followed by the inevitable shock of recognition: Hey, that dude’s famous!

Actually, the thugged-out look is on account of the role that’s brought him to Toronto, as a violence-prone strip-club manager named Bobby Mercer in the upcoming John Singleton film Four Brothers. The Bronsonian revenge fantasy follows a multi-ethnic quartet of delinquents adopted by the same woman who reunite as adults after Mom is gunned down in a robbery, and proceed to rain down a monsoon of whupass on Detroit. “Mark and I have been talking about doing a character that would let him access his background,” explains producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. “And this is it.”

Or, as Wahlberg puts it, firing a smoked almond into his mouth and slowly pulverizing it: “I get to do a lot of crazy shit to a lot of people who really deserve it, which is kind of up my alley.” So, in Four Brothers, we’ll see Wahlberg dousing a bunch of punks with gasoline and puffing ostentatiously on a cigarette. Sucker-punching a massive power forward in the neck and slamming him facedown on center court. Blasting guys’ limbs off with a shotgun. Even whacking a dog in the nuts. (Calm down—the pooch has it coming.) “Me being back in the street,” he muses. “I think it’s going to remind a lot of people maybe of my past.”

Ah, his past. Running the streets of Dorchester in Boston, stealing cars, robbing people, slinging drugs, menacing whatever unlucky soul strayed too close to him and his crew—with a 45-day hitch in an adult prison, at age 16, to show for his efforts. (He was convicted of assault after beating two Vietnamese immigrants during one very bad night in 1988.) Emerging from prison with a pumped-up physique, Wahlberg embarked on a highly effective rehabilitation program: a rap career, cooked up with the help of brother Donnie. Which begat the Dropping of the Trou; the Calvin ad; the autobiography, dedicated to his dick, that he never bothered to read; and, of course, Hollywood. And most recently, a stab at playing the family man—Wahlberg lives in Beverly Hills with his girlfriend, model Rhea Durham, and their 18-month-old daughter, Ella Rae.