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ON LOCATION : Sex, Drugs, Pick and Roll : Jim Carroll's cult favorite 'The Basketball Diaries' is finally making it to the screen. It seems everyone wanted to star. Leonardo DiCaprio made the cut.

July 24, 1994|RICK MARIN

Carroll told DiCaprio about how they used to use eyedroppers instead of syringes to boot the heroin, about how he never got nauseous but would sometimes sneeze for nine hours straight, about how even when he was straight he used to "trance out" so much he was lost in thought that they called him "Dazey."

Because he's sick of being known as the "Basketball Diaries" guy for the last 20 years, the fact that they're making this movie, he says, "just makes me want to work harder on something new."

Mark Wahlberg is sitting on a stoop next to the cathedral. He's in a geeky white shirt buttoned to the top and gray church pants. His hair is a goofy short bowl cut. The first thing he says, in his thick Boston street brogue, is "You wanna heah my impression of Jim?" Then he does it:

"The interesting thing with Mawky is he's got such a name and I figure, Wow, I can't have him in this movie! But gettin' back to the first time I smoked a bag, Wow, I muthta been 13 years old. Leo's great. Leo's fabulous. He just plays bathketball a little differently."

He's got it down. Who knew Marky Mark had a sense of humor?

Wahlberg, who appeared earlier this summer in Penny Marshall's "Renaissance Man," read six times for the part of Herbie, Jim's toughest buddy in "The Basketball Diaries." "I felt the character in a lot of ways," he says. "I wasn't strung out on heroin but I was doing what I had to do, you know what I'm saying? It was more about money for us than getting high."

Here's the difference between Wahlberg and DiCaprio. Wahlberg, 24, has the wary humility of a guy who's been spanked by stardom. DiCaprio, a cocky 19, acts like he thinks his star is always going to be on the rise.

DiCaprio wanders over from his trailer. He and Wahlberg talk trash at each other.

"What's up?" says DiCaprio, "You sayin' good things about me?

"No, whaddya kiddin' me?" says Wahlberg.

"Can I have a cigarette?" says DiCaprio. Then he remembers there's a reporter watching. "Oh yeah," he says. "I don't smoke."

Rick Marin is a free - lance writer living in New York.

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