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Besides being the movie that propelled filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan to worldwide fame, coined the line “I see dead people” and accidentally screwed a Kevin Bacon movie, The Sixth Sense is also notable for being one of Donnie Wahlberg’s first movies. Wahlberg played Vincent Grey, a patient of Bruce Willis’ Malcolm Crowe who, as it turns out (SPOILER alert for a 20-year-old movie ahead), was the one who killed Malcolm.
Donnie Wahlberg went above and beyond the call of duty in his efforts to portray Vincent, even going so far as to lose 43 pounds over five weeks to show that the character had suffered and “really gone through some really dramatic situations.” Going a step further, it was also Wahlberg’s idea to be completely naked in his memorable scene opposite Willis and Olivia Williams. The actor recalled:
I pitched it to Bruce, and he was like, 'That’s amazing, let’s tell Night.' I told Night and he was like, 'Okay, great.' I immediately began the process of starving myself.
This was a bold decision, especially for someone who was still quite early into his acting career. But Donnie Wahlberg didn’t shy away from bringing his unique vision of Vincent to life. After he got the go-ahead from M. Night Shyamalan, Wahlberg moved to New York to stay at a friend’s apartment and proceeded to do the following:
I would fast for a couple of days at a time and then just eat vegetables, chew gum all day and then walk the streets. When I got to Philadelphia, I slept in the park one night and was going through this really crazy process.
Eventually the time came for Donnie Wahlberg to go to wardrobe fitting for The Sixth Sense, but a problem surfaced: because The Sixth Sense was aiming for a PG-13 rating, the studio didn’t want Wahlberg to go fully nude in his scene. Not wanting everything he went through to go to waste, Wahlberg offered to meet them in the middle. As he put it:
They showed me some of the clothes and I really begged, ‘Can I at least compromise and be in tighty-whities?’
The Sixth Sense team obliged with his request, so Donnie Wahlberg wore nothing but underwear during the scene in The Sixth Sense when Vincent has broken into Malcolm and Anna Crowe’s home with a gun, eventually killing Malcolm and then taking his own life.
Donnie Wahlberg also mentioned in his interview with THR how when he walked onto set for his last take, Bruce Willis gave a speech to the crew about how the efforts Wahlberg went through and the sacrifices he made for The Sixth Sense, which Wahlberg was blown away by. His credits since then have included four Saw movies and the CBS series Blue Bloods, but The Sixth Sense is a good example of how committed he can get to a role.
As mentioned earlier, today marks exactly 20 years since The Sixth Sense was released in theaters, so feel free to share your favorite moment from the movie in the comments below. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, Glass, came out in theaters at the beginning of the year and is now available on home media. He is currently hard at work on the Apple TV+ series Servant and his next movie.
Head over to our 2019 release schedule to see what’s coming to theaters for the rest of the year, and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest in movie news.