Mark Wahlberg Opens Up About How Being a Father of Four Prepared Him for Emotional ‘Joe Bell’ Role

by Matthew Memrick

Mark Wahlberg’s emotional role in his new ‘Joe Bell’ film resulted from years of parenting four children.

Joe Bell” is the tragic true-life story of a man’s determination to make a difference in the world. The film handles tough topics like anti-bullying, suicide prevention, social media dangers, and a teenage son’s struggle with growing up.

Mark Wahlberg portrays an Oregon man who quits his job and walks across the country as a memorial to his 15-year-old son. When he stops, he tries to share his son’s experience with bullying and its deadly consequences.

“(The real-life Bell) wanted to talk to every other Joe Bell of the world who, if they hadn’t been affected by something like this personally, it would not be something that would be on their radar, right?” Wahlberg told “He really wanted to make a difference and prevent this from happening to somebody else.”

Joe Bell would also launch a foundation, Faces for Change, in his son’s honor. In October 2012, the “Joe’s Walk for Change” mainly served to bring attention to bullying. The cross-country walk lasted some 1,000 miles and six months before more tragedy struck. The father was struck by a semi-truck in October 2013 while walking alongside US 40 in Cheyenne County in Colorado.

At 50, Wahlberg mused about the movie’s solid but rigid message. He told FoxNews that his experience as a father played a part in preparing for the film. Wahlberg shares four kids with wife Rhea Durham: daughters Ella, 17, Grace Margaret, 11, plus sons Michael, 15, and Brendan Joseph, 12.

“The only thing that is going to bring people together, especially in these times with so much divide, is love and support and understanding,” Wahlberg said. “So we want to continue to spread that message.”

Mark Wahlberg’s Parenting Lessons Came From Personal Experience

Wahlberg could also relate to the struggles of growing up. He reportedly used cocaine as a teenager and was involved with many legal issues during that time. Many of those he worked to correct, apologize and resolve over the years. In 2013, he finished the work to receive his high school diploma.

“I really felt that as a parent, more than as an actor or producer, I just felt like diving right in wanting to really understand who Joe was,” Wahlberg told Yahoo! News. “I was wanting to make sure that the family knew what our intentions were because it’s obviously an overwhelming amount of responsibility when telling a story like this and knowing how would it affect (the Bell family).”

The Massachusetts native hopes the film can not only inform but serve as a cautionary tale.

“Hopefully, it would maybe bring some healing and, more importantly, prevent other families from having to go through the same thing,” Wahlberg said.

Wahlberg, who worked with teenager Reid Miller on the film, compliments his movie son’s stunning performance.

“He reminded me so much of both of my sons in so many different ways. And I just connected with him emotionally like that right away. And when we read, I was brought to tears,” Wahlberg related.