For Ella Rae Wahlberg, 5, fairy tales really do come true — or, at the very least, they are about to. In a recent interview with Elle magazine, actor Mark Wahlberg opens up about his upcoming marriage to model Rhea Durham, with whom he has three children — Ella, Michael, 2 ½, and new baby Brendan Joseph, 3 weeks. Calling his daughter "extremely smart," Mark, 37, says that Ella is "really articulate and tuned in to everything that’s going on around her." Including, it seems, the significance of her parents nuptials.
"She’s excited, and she asks a lot of questions. A lot of questions … And she’s obsessed right now with princesses and fairy tales and being kissed by the prince and happily ever after and, of course, ‘Will you marry me?’"
The best part of all for Ella? "We’re all going to have the same last name," Mark says. The couple’s path to the altar wasn’t always so clear cut; Mark and Rhea briefly parted ways after Ella was born, and had been on-again, off-again for several years prior. It was their shared commitment to their daughter that led them to reconsider the break-up, however. "We always wanted to make it work, we wanted to be together, we wanted to raise our family together," Mark reveals. "And it’s been a lot of hard work and counseling, and I think that’s the only way to make it work, to put in the time and effort. I can’t talk about why and what happened [when I left], obviously. But going away doesn’t make it work."
Click ‘More’ to read about why Mark is an overprotective parent and his Funky Bunch past.
For Mark, some film roles hit too close to home. In The Lovely Bones, due in theaters next year, he plays the father of a 14-year-old girl who is raped and murdered and Mark admits he was "glad" when the film wrapped. "Anything like that is extremely upsetting," he tells Elle. "It’s different when you have kids." Mark’s own upbringing makes him particularly cautious as a parent, often checking on Ella, Michael and Brendan multiple times each night before going to bed, himself.
"I make sure everything’s locked and the alarm is on and everyone is snug and safe because I’ve always been like that. I grew up in a bad neighborhood, and you have to do that."
There are other moments in his career that Mark is equally unwilling to revisit, although for different reasons entirely! Of his past as a pants-dropping rapper and occasional underwear model, Mark admits that he’ll someday have "a lot of explaining to do" to the kids. He recently saw a clip of himself on the vH1 special 40 Hottest Hotties of the ’90s and said he "could not have been more embarrassed" when he took the #1 spot.
"All I thought about was my kids seeing it. Because, as we all know, kids can be cruel."
Mark’s new film, Max Payne, hits theaters October 17.