Mark Wahlberg's SAG Award Presentation Is Causing Outrage Over Past Assault Incident

Mark Wahlberg presented the top film award at the 29th Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday night, which resulted in a difficult moment for many watching at home. The actor had to announce that the predominantly Asian cast of Everything Everywhere All At Once won Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. In 1988, a 16-year-old Wahlberg assaulted two Vietnamese-American men and served 45 days in jail.

Wahlberg knocked one middle-aged Vietnamese-American man unconscious with a wooden stick as he cursed at him. That same day, he attacked another man, punching him in the eye. When he was arrested, Wahlberg used several racial slurs, investigators said. The future actor was charged with attempted murder, but reached a plea deal and pleaded guilty to felony assault. He was sentenced to two years in jail but only served 45 days. Wahlberg was also named in a 1986 civil lawsuit for yelling racial slurs and throwing rocks at a group of three Black children.

Wahlberg has apologized for the 1988 assaults in multiple interviews over the years, but in 2014, he was widely criticized for applying for a pardon from the State of Massachusetts. In 2016, Wahlberg dropped his pardon request. During a 2016 Q&A at the Toronto Film Festival, Wahlberg told TheWrap he regretted applying for the pardon.

"It was one of those things where it was just kind of presented to me, and if I could've done it over again I would never have focused on that or applied," Wahlberg said at the time. "I didn't need that, I spent 28 years righting the wrong. I didn't need a piece of paper to acknowledge it. I was kind of pushed into doing it, I certainly didn't need to or want to relive that stuff over again."

Wahlberg's hate crimes often come up on social media. In June 2020, when he called George Floyd's death "heartbreaking," social media users found his comments insincere. There was also speculation that Wahlberg or a member of his team edited his Wikipedia page, but there was no evidence to support this.

Reps for the Screen Actors Guild Awards have not commented on the decision to have Wahlberg present an award at the ceremony. While Everything Everywhere All at Once was favored to win the Outstanding Ensemble award, it certainly was not known that it would. Wahlberg has only been nominated for SAG Awards as a member of the Boogie Nights, The Departed, and The Fighter casts.