Why Mark Wahlberg Broke This ‘Cardinal Rule’ to Make the Film ‘Father Stu’

Mark Wahlberg has proven he can play a wide range of roles. From taking comedic turns in films such as Daddy’s Home and The Other Guys, showing his dramatic side in movies including The Departed and Joe Bell, and taking the action route in blockbusters like Shooter and Transformers: Age of Extinction, Wahlberg consistently delivers when it comes to acting chops. Now the Oscar nominee is showing audiences his spiritual side in the upcoming biopic Father Stu.

Mark Wahlberg of 'Father Stu'
Mark Wahlberg of ‘Father Stu’ | Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images

Mark Wahlberg has been working on ‘Father Stu’ for 6 years

Wahlberg plays Stuart Long, an amateur boxer whose career gets sidelined by an injury. After moving to Los Angeles, Stuart starts attending church to impress a woman he meets. A series of events follows that prompts him to pursue the priesthood.

The inspirational story has been a passion project of Wahlberg’s for quite some time. A devout Catholic, the Instant Family star saw the opportunity to make the film as a vehicle of gratitude for all of his success.

“It’s been about six years in the making,” Wahlberg told Raymond Arroyo, according to the National Catholic Register. “I’ve always been kind of thinking about: How do I continue to pay for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me? I know God didn’t put me in this position to kind of forget about where I came from.”

Growing up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts as the youngest of nine kids, Wahlberg is no stranger to adversity and went down a troubled path in his youth. Now an A-list actor who makes God a priority in his life, Wahlberg hopes to strengthen the faith of others by taking Long’s story to the screen.

“God doesn’t give you the gifts and the talents until it’s time to utilize [them] in the right way — and for Him and not for yourself,” Wahlberg commented. ‘So I’ve always been kind of saying, ‘Okay, what is my mission? What is my purpose?’ And planting the seed, letting it blossom, and then utilizing that to continue to spread His word.”

‘Uncharted’ star financed the film

Wahlberg considered himself a “big fan” of Rosalind Ross in her previous work with Mel Gibson and recruited her to direct the movie after she wrote the script. Since he wasn’t receiving much interest from potential financiers for the project, Wahlberg decided to back up Father Stu with his own bank account.

“Yes, I broke the cardinal rule,” he shared. “You never put your own money into a film. But I didn’t really go out to a lot of people. I didn’t send it to any major studios. I had a couple of friends who I had made kind of small independent movies with or people that I made a couple of true stories with, and they didn’t even really respond to it. So I said, ‘You know what? I’m just going to do it on my own’.”

The Uncharted actor saw the film as a vehicle to share the life-changing power of faith and pursuing your God-given purpose.

“Did I think it was a great part for me to play? Yes,” Wahlbeg remarked. “But it was more important to tell the story and get the story out there and encourage other people to find their own faith and their own purpose in life and bring lapsed Catholics back to church. It felt like it was a story and a message that everybody needed to hear.”

‘It’s about doing more, giving back’

The film also stars Gibson, Jacki Weaver, and Teresa Ruiz. Wahlberg now considers the message of Father Stu as his mission.

“Do I always try to find some sort of personal connection to a role? Absolutely,” the father of four said. “I need to identify with it some way. Is this something that I identify with more than anything else? Absolutely. Is this my mission to now continue to do Stu’s work and take on that responsibility? Yes.”

Wahlberg hopes to uplift others with the story of Father Stu, which is scheduled for release right before Easter.

“I’ve spent 50 years working on Mark Wahlberg, whether it was the good part of Mark Wahlberg or the bad part of Mark Wahlberg, and now it’s about doing more, giving back,” he explained. “Many people are having very difficult journeys right now. And that’s who we want to touch. That’s who we want to inspire, to be able to [encourage to] overcome and to persevere.”

Father Stu arrives in theaters on April 13, 2022.

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