Mark Wahlberg's life got "10 times more difficult" when he left gang life.
The 48-year-old actor got into a lot of trouble as a teenager, including being jailed for felony assault after attacking a man while high on drugs in 1988 and though he's not proud of his actions, he's happy he worked hard to turn his life around, though it wasn't easy.
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Asked if he thought he'd be "cancelled" if he was an up-and-coming actor now and details of his past emerged, he said: "Well... I don't know. I think it would be easy to look at it and say that, but having been through it and experienced it, I think it's a different thing. You see the gentleman who just came in here?
"He just did 16 years in prison. OK? He got out and I put him in [Spenser Confidential]. That could have easily been my life.
"Being in a situation like that and having nothing else - certainly I made a lot of terrible mistakes and I paid for those mistakes dearly."
Wahlberg said people often thought of time behind bars as a badge of honour but insisted "having been in that situation, it's not".
The Departed star recalled how he could only get out of the situation was to "actually change" his circumstances.
He added: "I did the work. I took it upon myself to own up to my mistakes and go against the grain and not be a part of the gang any more - to say that I was going to go and do my own thing. Which made it 10 times more difficult to walk from my home to the train station, to go to school, to go to work."
And Wahlberg others in his position can get a "second chance" if they want to change.
He told Observer magazine: "I prided myself on doing the right thing and turning my life around. Whether I found myself venturing off into Hollywood and a music career, or working a 9-to-5 job as a construction worker, whatever path I was going to take, I was going to do the right thing.
"So I think no, judging a person on what he's doing and where he's coming from and all those things, no, I would hope that people would be able to get a second chance in life.
But the Fighter star - who has four children with wife Rhea Durham - thinks his experiences have made his work more "authentic".
He said: "I do think the one thing I have to my advantage is that I have all this real life experience that I can apply to my work.
"I think audiences can definitely sense authenticity. But that came with a real price."