Mark Wahlberg set to move family to Australia
Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg is joining the growing ranks of big-name stars in love with Australia and is planning to move here with his wife and children later this year.
The Spenser Confidential star will settle on the Gold Coast for five months to shoot a movie in the second half of the year.
Wahlberg revealed his plans to The Saturday Telegraph after falling in love with the country during a flying visit to Australia last month where he signed a deal to bring his Wahlburgers restaurant chain Down Under.
"I'm looking forward to coming back," he said.
"Hopefully I'll be able to move my family down to Australia for four to five months and make a movie on the Gold Coast and enjoy that beautiful country."
Wahlberg will join a casting call of tinseltown stars, including Liam Hemsworth, Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Natalie Portman, who live or are temporarily calling Australia home during the coronavirus pandemic.
He is keen for wife, former Victoria's Secret model Rhea Durham, and their four children to join him while he is filming. Details of the movie remain a closely guarded secret.
"My wife wasn't able to go on (last month's) trip," he said. "I think if my wife went down there (to Australia) she would fall in love with it."
Wahlberg has already signed a $50 million deal with Sydney-based United Cinemas owner Sam Mustaca to open 15 Hollywood-themed Wahlburgers restaurants across the country.
The restaurants will be located in or near United Cinemas at locations including Circular Quay, Narellan, Warriewood and Katoomba in NSW; Eldorado at Indooroopilly in Brisbane's west; and Craigieburn in Victoria.
"Mark has asked us to delay the opening of the first restaurant in Circular Quay until he gets here in the spring," Mr Mustaca said.
"Of course we are happy to do that because it will be great to have him here for the opening party. We have already put the champagne on ice."
Plans for the Australian Wahlburgers restaurants are under way, with Wahlberg's chef brother Paul already designing a new Aussie-themed menu to add to the regular items made famous in the Wahlburgers reality TV show.
He is understood to be wrestling with a new concept for the chain that involves beetroot, pineapple and a fried egg. Fish burgers and chicken schnitzel burgers will also be new additions to the menu.
"The response we have received after announcing the restaurant deal has been phenomenal," Mr Mustaca said. "Australians have already embraced him.
"Once he gets here with his family and sees how wonderful it is I would not be surprised if he followed in the footsteps of other Hollywood stars and bought a house here."
Originally published as Mark Wahlberg set to move family to Australia