Mark Wahlberg’s Brother Donnie Was Forced to Starve Himself into Losing 43 lbs for $672M Bruce Willis Cult-Classic

Mark Wahlberg's Brother Donnie Was Forced to Starve Himself into Losing 43 lbs for $672M Bruce Willis Cult-Classic
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The Sixth Sense was one of the greatest pieces in the history of cinema. But at the time, the film was more of a sleeper hit than an instant cult classic. And among the various simple intricacies that make the Bruce Willis film such a gift was Mark Wahlberg’s elder brother being cast in a curiously important role that ultimately leads to the death of the protagonist, thus setting up the entire premise of the movie. 

Haley Joel Osment And Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense (1999)

Also read: Bruce Willis Refused a $12M Role To Star in a Cult-Classic Film That Eventually Went To Denzel Washington

Bruce Willis Film Was Life-Threatening To Donnie Wahlberg

Not many are familiar with Mark Wahlberg’s elder brother in the industry, and yet Donnie Wahlberg was the first one to step into the spotlight of Hollywood mainframe. The cult classic that made M. Night Shyamalan an overnight sensation and the implication – “He was dead this whole time” – universally recognizable also starred the lesser-known Wahlberg in a role that became life-threatening to the actor despite his limited screen time in the Bruce Willis movie.

Donnie Wahlberg as Vincent Grey
Donnie Wahlberg as Vincent Grey

Also read: “It built me up because I’m a softie”: M. Night Shyamalan Credits Biggest Monster Harvey Weinstein For Toughening Him Up To Face Hollywood

As per reports, Donnie Wahlberg lost 43 lbs for the role of Vincent Grey, a former patient of Dr. Malcolm Crowe, (Willis) who blames the latter for still being plagued by demons well into his adulthood, claiming that by not helping him as a child, Crowe failed him as a doctor, and shooting him moments before committing suicide. Wahlberg, 20 years after the film’s release, revealed: 

“I did exactly what I needed to do for the role. I had to look like I was going through hell. I went to a really dark place […] If Vincent is coming to stop his suffering and end his own life, then why is he wearing anything? To me, he strips down and is in the bathroom fully naked, clothes on the floor […] I had to become emaciated and change my physical appearance.

I starved myself. I would fast for two days then only eat steamed cabbage and drink beet juice. I would chew gum all day and I would literally walk around the streets to burn thousands of calories. I didn’t shower for weeks. I just wasn’t taking care of myself and I was a loner. That was as close as I could come to this guy. I definitely had to suffer in the only way I could.

I was so hungry. I was depressed. I cut off my life to get ready for the role.”

Donnie Wahlberg as Vincent Grey
Donnie Wahlberg as Vincent Grey

By the end of his three-minute scene, Wahlberg recalls being so traumatized and feeling emotionally “out of my mind” that when Shyamalan called for the cut, I fell on the floor, and I remember Bruce was like, ‘Whoa!’ and I was bawling my eyes out. M. Night came running over and was hugging me.”


The sequence which, in its slow intensity, burns with raw emotions and acts as an unfolding, impending horror opera rather than a shock factor for the audience becomes even more gruesome because of Vincent Grey’s haunted appearance. In what resembled an actual physical transformation of a character who has, for years, suffered and battled (unsuccessfully) against his demons and had begun to show signs of resignation was perfectly encapsulated by Donnie Wahlberg in his portrayal of the film’s main antagonist.

The Sixth Sense Sits at the Pinnacle of Cult Classic Films

For reasons that are readily obvious, M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 film is one of the rare few scripts that are readily cursed with the gift of failing to be recognized in its own time. The film, although hauling in an impressive $672 million at the box office, did not pander to the mainstream audience of the era. It would be years before the Bruce Willis starrer began showing up on coveted ranks of must-watch films and the AFI list of greatest movies of all time. 

Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense
Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense

Also read: “I’ll write the best screenplay ever”: Bruce Willis Earned Massive $100M Salary After The Sixth Sense Director M. Night Shyamalan Found a Loophole to Leave Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax


The Sixth Sense did, however, go on to receive six Academy Award nominations, including in the Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director categories – all of which would have been accorded to M. Night Shyamalan, if it won. Toni Collette and Haley Joel Osment also won Best Supporting Actress and Actor nominations respectively. Soon after, the growing publicity (and the surprise ending) began to draw in the masses at such an exponential scale that upon being released on VHS and DVD in 2000, The Sixth Sense became the top video rental title of all time, with more than 2.5 million units shipped.

Source: USA Today


Written by Diya Majumdar

Articles Published: 1485

With a degree in Literature from Miranda House, Diya Majumdar now has nearly 1500 published articles on FandomWire. Her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema while being a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh. Other skills include being the proud owner of an obsessive collection of Spotify playlists.