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About (Late) Last Night: Mark Wahlberg tells Jay Leno about kicking pot habit

February 8, 2011 |  8:56 am


On Tuesday's "Tonight Show," Jay Leno asked fellow Massachusetts native Mark Wahlberg, what happened to that "kid I met in the '80s?" It was an apt question since self-transformation was, apparently, the theme of the evening.

The Artist Formerly Known as Marky Mark is currently on a charm offensive for his Oscar-nominated movie, "The Fighter." Wahlberg's performance was overlooked -- some would say snubbed -- but he produced the film, which means he's up for the biggest prize of all, Best Picture.

Wahlberg, once best known for his washboard abs and tendency to mouth off in interviews, has transformed himself into Hollywood's leading family man. "You know what, I've been very fortunate. If you don't change after having four beautiful children, I don't know what's going to make you change," he told Leno.

Fatherhood has also turned the former tough guy into a softie. Wahlberg told Leno about tearing up in "Tangled," and said that "Toy Story 3" "killed" him. "One of the best movies ever made," he said. (Cue the "awwws.") 

It was time for Leno to ask a leading question: "You've gotten rid of all the bad habits?"

"I think the last one was a little hard to get rid of, Jay, because it helped me with the stress and everything," Wahlberg confessed. "You know a little--pffft..." he said, making that pursed inhaling sound that's code for pot smoking the world over. Wahlberg's honesty, particularly in the strange PR forum that is late-night television, was disarming. You could practically hear the confusion in the audience: Are we supposed to laugh, or wag our fingers in disapproval?

Wahlberg explained that one day, he lit up while driving in the car with his daughter, who asked her mother about the strange smell emanating from the front seat. "And she goes, 'Oh, that's a skunk,'" he said. Wahlberg's daughter responded, "I think daddy's smelled like that before." Wahlberg decided to kick the habit, and told Leno, "It's the best thing I ever did." 

Wahlberg's personal overhaul isn't totally complete just yet. There's also the matter of getting his famous tattoos removed -- he says he's gone through 20-something of the torturous sessions so far -- and finally earning his high school diploma.

Self-improvement is a wonderful thing, Mark. But promise us one thing, won't you? Leave the abs as they are.

-- Meredith Blake