Mark Wahlberg talks 'Broken City,' Boston

The Academy Award-nominated actor is never too Hollywood to represent his Beantown roots. Mark Halmas/Icon SMI

Here’s a shocker -- Mark Wahlberg is about to star in a movie in which he plays a badass.

All jokes, clearly, considering the Academy Award-nominated actor specializes in all things breakneck. This month, he, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones -- a drool-worthy cast to be sure -- star in “Broken City,” a twisty tale about a former cop, a New York City mayor, his wife and a delicious scandal. It’s just the kind of crime drama you might expect to see a guy like Wahlberg pop up in and produce.

“This script reminded me of the movies that I grew up watching -- those great crime thrillers that are very rich in character and story,” he says of the film, which hits theaters on Jan. 18.

Wahlberg, a huge sports fan who earned an Oscar nomination for portraying boxer Micky Ward in 2010’s “The Fighter,” took a break from the movie chatter to talk sports (and brag a bit about his awesome memorabilia) with ESPN Playbook.

What team would make you happiest if it won a championship?

The Patriots! I’m a diehard Bostonian Patriots fan. I’d also like to see the Cubs win a World Series.

What’s your most prized piece of sports memorabilia?

I have an amazing autographed picture of Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale walking off the court at the Boston Garden. I’ve got Manny Pacquiao’s gloves and sneakers signed, and I’ve got a beautiful football signed from Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson.

What’s your favorite sports memory, as a fan or as a participant?

Playing baseball as a kid, doing the movie “The Fighter,” and the most memorable, most recent, was taking my son to his first Patriots game. We went to the Monday Night game against the Texans and it was incredible. He was in the locker room with Tom Brady and on the field with the whole team, and then he was in the locker room after the game with Coach Belichick.

If your life depended on your performance in a competitive sport, which one would you choose?

Probably football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing or golf.

So you have skills in a couple different sports, then?

Oh yeah. I’m no slouch.

Who was your childhood sports idol?

Larry Bird and Micky Ward.

Which modern athlete do you love to hate?

Anybody with pinstripes.

Spoken like a guy from Boston ...

Yeah. But I’m very friendly with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. But I haven’t let a little of that hate go.