Mark Wahlberg has reached a point in his career where he wants his film to make a difference in people’s lives.
That is why he believes that his latest film, “Father Stu”, the redemptively true story of a longtime agnostic who becomes a Catholic priest, is by far the most important film he has ever made.
“This is me who’s going to do more meaningful work that serves a purpose in my faith. I’m always looking for new opportunities to do things that have a little more substance,” Wahlberg told Deseret News. “I’m also getting older. I’ve been very blessed and lucky, and doing things, using the talents and gifts that God has given me in this way, is definitely what I need to do.”
Wahlberg estimates that by the time he finishes “Father Stu,” he will “definitely” have done more interviews and personal promotion of this film than any other film he has been a part of in his nearly 30-year acting career.
When ‘Father Stu’ will be released?
“Father Stu” opens exclusively in theaters on April 13. The film is R-rated for strong language.
Is ‘Father Stu’ a true story?
“Father Stu” tells the true story of Stuart Long, an amateur boxer from Montana who moved to Los Angeles to work as a supermarket assistant while hoping to start an acting career in the late 1980s.
While in California, Long met and fell in love with a Catholic Sunday School teacher named Carmen (Teresa Ruiz). He started going to church to impress her before he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident and had a deep spiritual experience.
He survived his injuries with a new desire to become a Catholic priest.
Long died in 2014 after suffering from inclusion body myositis, a rare muscle disease with symptoms similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS.
Wahlberg plays the role of Long, and his parents are played by Mel Gibson and Jacki Weaver.
How Mark Wahlberg found Long’s story
Wahlberg, who also produced the film, was introduced to Long’s story by two pastors – one who pitched the film and the other who just wanted to order his fish and pasta after a long day, he said.
“Something about the story resonated with me,” Wahlberg said. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, here’s another opportunity for me to do more and something with some real substance.’ I decided right then and there that I wanted to make the film. “
Wahlberg himself funded the film, according to the National Catholic Register.
That was six years ago. Producing the film has been an uphill battle, Wahlberg said, but the film turned out better than he had expected.
“It has resonated with people in more ways than I thought it would,” he said. “People see themselves or in a personal way, they identify with the film and it touches people. I couldn’t be happier.”
Parallels between Wahlberg and Long
Long’s story has so many parallels to Wahlberg’s own journey of faith that people who know the actor have asked if he wanted the audience to see him in the film?
“No, it’s about Stu,” Wahlberg said. “But I challenge them – they would be hard pressed to find someone in my generation, an actor, who would be better suited to play this role because there are so many parallels.”
When he was young, Wahlberg said he looked up to all the wrong people as role models. At one point, he realized that there were other people doing positive things in society and the church, and he should look at them as role models.
“When I realized these were the people I should be inspired by, they kindled like the flame, and I started to focus more on my faith. While I was doing that, all these little wonderful things started happening,” he said. “That’s why I attribute all my personal and professional success to my faith in some way.”
How did Wahlberg prepare to play the priest?
One way Wahlberg prepared for the role was by performing Masses and performing a priest’s duties every Saturday in his home.
His own life experiences as a Catholic prepared him for the role.
He placed a photo of Long on his briefcase cover and his manuscripts.
“He always saw me with a strict eye and challenged me to get better and do better,” Wahlberg said. “I still have his picture in the middle of my desk at home. It’s not going anywhere soon. It was not like, ‘OK, the movie’s done, I have to put you away, Stu.’ in it every day. ”
What are the main themes of ‘Father Stus’?
Wahlberg believes that the film’s main themes are centered around faith, redemption, hope, hard mercy, hard grace, inclusion, acceptance, unconditional love, and unconditional support.
“Glowing reviews and support” has allowed Wahlberg to feel validated for how he told the story.
“We’ve always had the best intentions of making the most powerful film that would be most effective at bringing people together and reminding people of the important themes of the film,” Wahlberg said.
What Mark Wahlberg wants the ‘Father Stu’ audience to know
Perhaps the biggest lesson the audience can learn from “Father Stu” is “no one is beyond redemption,” Wahlberg said.
“We all deal with very, very difficult things, and that’s how you approach these things to find the ultimate result,” he said. “Stu dealt with his sufferings and everything he faced, all adversity, with dignity and grace. I found it very inspiring. And therefore I will continue to encourage people to never give up on people. We will continue to support people and always find the good, see the good in everyone. ”
Learn more about “Father Stu” at fatherstumovie.com.