Mark Wahlberg apologises for 'offensive' September 11 ‘rescue’ claim
MARK Wahlberg has apologised after claiming he would have carried out a Hollywood-style rescue aboard one of the hijacked September 11 aircraft.
The star of The Departed was scheduled to take United Airlines flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field as passengers fought to overpower four al-Qaeda hijackers who intended to use the plane to attack Washington DC.
In a magazine interview, the 34-year-old said: “If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.’”
The comment drew immediate criticism from Deena Burnett-Bailey, whose husband Tom was among a group of passengers who charged the cockpit in an attempt to retake the plane.
"The plan for Flight 93 was foiled by heroes. For him to speculate that his presence on board could have stopped everything is silly and disrespectful. Sounds like someone is grandstanding," she told the website TMZ.
On Wednesday afternoon, Wahlberg issued an apology, saying "I deeply apologize to the families of the victims that my answer came off as insensitive, it was certainly not my intention."
United 93 has a special place in America's collective memory of the attacks. As the World Trade Centre collapsed and the country reeled, the fight aboard the doomed flight became a symbol of US resistance.
One passenger, Todd Beamer, was able to call groundstaff and tell them of the hijacking, as well as the plan to try and retake the cockpit.
His last known words - "Let's roll" - earned a permanent place in the America vernacular and were quoted by George W Bush in his first State of the Union address after the attacks.
Wahlberg and several friends were due to take United 93 from his native Boston to Los Angeles but at the last moment decided to hire a charter flight to a film festival in Toronto.
He has spoken about his near-miss before, saying: “We certainly would have tried to do something to fight. I’ve had probably over 50 dreams about it.”