By John Buffalo Mailer
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Straight up, Mark Webber is a success story. To date, he’s appeared in 15 movies and is currently starring in the new film by Lars Von Trier, now in production. His credits include Jesus’ Son (directed by Alison Maclean), Whiteboys (Marc Levin), Animal Factory (Steve Buscemi), Snow Day (Chris Koch), Boiler Room (Ben Younger), Storytelling (Todd Solondz), Chelsea Walls (Ethan Hawke), The Laramie Project (MoisÃ©s Kaufman), Hollywood Ending (Woody Allen), People I Know (Daniel Algrant), and most recently, Bomb the System, a film about graffiti artists and the underground art culture in New York City. An impressive list, but when you learn that Webber grew up homeless with his mother, Cheri Honkala, and the two are on a mission to end homelessness in America, the fact that he is well on his way to becoming a movie star takes on more importance.
After Snow Day, Webber was offered big Hollywood movies, but resisted the temptation to take the paycheck. Instead he accepted roles in small independent films based on the merit of the project.
Don’t get him wrong, Webber has no problem doing a big Hollywood number and getting the fat check that goes along with it, provided that movie has something to offer. Apparently, it’s a good recipe. Without exception, the movies he passed on (and I won’t mention any names) tanked, because, quite frankly, they were crap. Webber also won’t do TV. He can’t imagine playing the same character for five years.
The potential power of celebrity was hammered home when Mark and his mother appeared on ABC’s 20/20 Downtown, garnering unprecedented donations, letters of support, hits to the Website, and numbers of people wanting to join their organization. As his mother says, "I’ve been doing this work now for over a decade and it didn’t really much matter how many families I helped house until Mark became a movie star. Now I can’t go anywhere without the press following me to whatever I happen to be involved in."
With Bomb the System, Webber, a graffiti artist himself, proves he has what it takes to be a leading man. Still, when you meet him, the first thing you notice is his modesty. Ego never seems to factor into the equation. Were he not an activist, I think it’s safe to say Mark Webber would have no enemies.
COMPLETE STORY IN JANUARY 2004 HIGH TIMES