It’s not anything new to see Mark Wahlberg take on true-life roles — Joe Bell, Deepwater Horizon, Patriot’s Day, and Lone Survivor among them — but Father Stu is a different kind of project for the 50-year-old actor/producer.
“I really think the film chose me,” Wahlberg tells ABC Audio.
The biopic tells the story of Stuart Long, a burned-out boxer who becomes a priest after a string of bad decisions and events force him to realize he’s on a different life path. For Wahlberg, the movie reflects a true turning point in his life and career.
“As I’ve been getting older, I’ve been working on me,” he says. “I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate. So what I was thinking, how do I do more? How do I move the needle and make change?”
Being a devout Catholic, one would assume this film would be a no-brainer for Wahlberg — but initially, he took some convincing to bring Father Stu to the big screen. “The first time I heard it, I kind of blew it off, and then the second time it was like ‘well wait a second’ — it’s come to me,” he says. “It really is a miracle how it turned out. I’m so inspired to continue to do Stu’s work.”
Father Stu also stars Mel Gibson and Oscar-nominated actress Jacki Weaver as Stu’s parents, who watch their son struggle with the effects of a terminal illness. Weaver tells ABC Audio Father Stu pulls no punches when it comes to its message about faith and redemption.
“It’s the difficult and the sad things in life that test your mettle, and test your emotional strength, sometimes in tragic ways,” Weaver says. “But, that’s what makes you stronger ultimately, I think.”