The Past Drama Between Mark Wahlberg And Leonardo DiCaprio, Explained

From an outside perspective, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg didn't have an awkward relationship while working on the 1995 film "The Basketball Diaries." They seem to have got off on the right foot in an Entertainment Tonight captured video of then-19-year-old DiCaprio asking then-22-year-old Wahlberg if he wanted to be his friend. His co-star happily agreed, and the duo shook on it. They also couldn't settle on who was the best performer, with both pointing to the other. Even their onscreen chemistry seemed to reflect their real-life friendship.

DiCaprio and Wahlberg had good reason for putting extra effort into their performances to make everything seem normal. For Wahlberg, who was predominantly known as the frontman of the hip-hop group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch at the time, the film was a major turning point that could make or break his acting career. For DiCaprio, whose iconic role as Jack from "Titanic" was almost played by a different actor, the movie was an important stepping stone because it was notably different from his usual, more mainstream picks. 

Speaking to the San Franciso Chronicle, the teen heartthrob shared what compelled him to take on the difficult part of a promising basketball player struggling with drug addiction. "With this role, I saw a character that would take a lot of work and would require a lot of exploration into something I've never dealt with before," DiCaprio revealed. "There were a lot of emotions that I would have to deal with, and basically, it was a cool character." Shockingly, though, neither actor thought the other was right for his role. 

DiCaprio was vehemently against Wahlberg's casting

When Mark Wahlberg spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, in 2013, he disclosed Leonardo DiCaprio's reaction to the idea of his casting in the film. "Leonardo was like, 'Over my dead f***ing body. Marky Mark's not going to be in this f***** movie,'" the former rapper recalled. "Because we'd had a thing — I didn't even realize it, [but] I was a bit of a dick to him at a charity basketball game. So he was like, 'This f***** a***** is not going to be in this movie.'" 

However, the producers didn't let DiCaprio have his way and they urged him to do a read with Wahlberg. But as fate would have it, the "Ted" star showed up to the reading nearly eight hours late. Speaking at AFI Fest in 2014, Wahlberg admitted that he had headed up to Puerto Rico for the weekend, and when it was time to get back for the read, there was a gigantic snowstorm and his flight was canceled. Upon arrival, he got some dirty looks from DiCaprio. 

Nonetheless, the actors went on with the scene and Wahlberg told THR that the movie's producers couldn't help but notice their chemistry, so they cheekily asked the "Killers of the Flower Moon" star what he thought of Wahlberg's performance. That simple question eased all the tension in the room, and everyone shared a laugh. Wahlberg even spent some time with DiCaprio after the audition, and it didn't take them long to form a friendship.

Wahlberg and DiCaprio are open to working together again

During Mark Wahlberg's speech at AFI Fest, he acknowledged that he wasn't 100% sure about Leonardo DiCaprio's casting in "The Basketball Diaries" either. The "Uncharted" star reasoned that he had never seen DiCaprio play the sport on the streets like his character had. Wahlberg also confessed that reading together made them see past their differences and appreciate each other's acting skills, so both men were ultimately sold on the other taking on his respective role.  

Their feud likely started when the former rapper gave the Oscar-winner the cold shoulder when they ran into each other backstage at the MTV Rock and Jock basketball game. Speaking to ExtraTV, Wahlberg explained that their dislike of each other came from preconceived notions, reasoning, "I was just, ya know, as a rapper, I was just kinda out-there and loud and crazy and all this stuff and it was a very serious movie and this very serious part."  

"The Basketball Diaries" director Scott Kalvert had collaborated with him on several music videos for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, so he believed in Wahlberg's abilities, "But no one had seen me act in a film, so I had to really kinda just go out there and prove myself." And prove himself, he did, which is why Wahlberg is worth even more than what you might think. Meanwhile, both he and DiCaprio are willing to collaborate again should the situation arise.