Donnie Wahlberg is one of the few performers who has been able to go from early stardom as a teen idol to a respected career as a dramatic character actor. Born Donald Edmund Wahlberg in Dorchester, MA, on August 17, 1969, Donnie came from a large family (he has five brothers and three sisters), and first became interested in performing as a way of getting attention in a busy household. Wahlberg developed an interest in music early on, and was only ten years old when he joined his first band, a local group called Risk. Wahlberg became a passionate hip-hop fan, learning how to breakdance and write his own raps; a few years later, Wahlberg joined an R&B-styled group called the Kool Aid Bunch, which also featured singer Danny Wood. In 1986, producer and entrepreneur Maurice Starr, who had guided the R&B harmony group New Edition to platinum success, decided to form a similar act with young white singers, and Wahlberg and Wood were both tapped to become members of what would become New Kids on the Block. While their first album made little impact in the marketplace, New Kids on the Block's second LP, 1988's Hanging Tough, made them into one of the biggest pop music phenomena of the 1980s and '90s. Wahlberg's persona in the group was that of the "bad boy," and true to form he had a few minor brushes with the law, including a widely reported incident at a Kentucky hotel in which he was charged with using alcohol to start a fire. But Wahlberg also established himself as one of the musical forces behind New Kids on the Block, helping to write and produce material for the group, and going on to produce recordings for other artists, most notably Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, featuring his brother Mark Wahlberg. In 1994, New Kids on the Block broke up, and while Wahlberg continued to work in music as a songwriter and producer, he soon set his sights on a career in acting. In 1995, Wahlberg snagged a small role in an action film called Bullet opposite Mickey Rourke and Tupac Shakur, and a year later he won a much showier role as a kidnapper with a conscience in the Mel Gibson vehicle Ransom. In 1998, Wahlberg did double duty as leading man and executive producer for the independent drama Southie, and in 1999 he surprised critics with his turn as Vincent Gray in the runaway hit The Sixth Sense. Wahlberg has also enjoyed a successful career on television; he played 2nd Lt. Lipton on the acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, starred in the action series Boomtown, and played a recurring role on the well-reviewed but short-lived police drama Big Apple. In 2005, Wahlberg joined the Saw movie franchise, appearing as Detective Eric Matthews in Saw II and later reprising his role in Saw III (2006) and Saw IV (2007). Continuing his trend of playing police officers, Wahlberg joined the CBS drama Blue Bloods in 2010 as Detective Danny Reagan. In addition to his careers in acting and music, Wahlberg also co-owns a restaurant in the Boston area with several of his brothers called Wahlburgers which was featured on an A&E reality series of the same name.
Biography by Rovi
- Is the eighth of nine children; youngest brother is actor-singer Mark Wahlberg.
- Big break came in 1985, when music producer Maurice Starr auditioned him for a group that became the boy band New Kids on the Block.
- In 1991, the New Kids topped Forbes' list of America's highest-paid entertainers with $115 million in earnings.
- Acting debut was in Bullet, a 1996 direct-to-video flick starring Mickey Rourke and Tupac Shakur.
- Early big-screen roles included a kidnapper in Ransom (1996) and a former mental patient in The Sixth Sense (1999).
- His character of Detective Eric Matthews appeared in the second, third, fourth and fifth entries in the popular Saw series of horror movies.
- Has been a regular on several TV series, including the police dramas Boomtown and Blue Bloods, and the short-lived thriller Runaway.