Mark Wahlberg believes there were greater powers at play when he stumbled onto his new project, “Father Stu.” And now, he wants to continue creating stories that can help people.
In the film, Wahlberg plays Stuart Long, a boxer who struggles to find his footing in life. With depreciating health, he decides to give acting a chance before falling for a devout Catholic. Eventually, he ends up finding meaning in the church and becomes a priest.
“It’s exactly the kind of movie the world needs right now,” Wahlberg, 50, told The Patriot Ledger. “With everything that’s going on, people need to feel hope and joy and they need a reason to believe.”
“I feel like this is starting a new chapter for me in that, now, doing things like this — real substance — can help people,” Wahlberg told Entertainment Tonight. “I definitely want to focus on making more. I wouldn’t say necessarily just faith-based content but things that will help people.”
The actor hopes that his leap of faith inspires others in Hollywood to make “more meaningful content.”
A personal story on the set
“When I first heard about Father Stu, I knew I wanted to make the movie,” he said. “I always look for roles I can personally connect with. It took six years, but I knew I would make it. I want to share Father Stu’s story with the world. This is my mission,” Wahlberg told TKTK. He was so dedicated to fulfill the vision that he sunk a chunk of his own money to make it happen.
Wahlberg, a Catholic himself, found common ground between the character he was playing and his own life experiences — they both spent their youth “fighting and drinking” before giving into the desire for redemption, Dana Barbuto writes in The Patriot Ledger.
“We both had troubled pasts. He figured it all out, but I’m still working on things,” Wahlberg said in the interview.
At home with family
In an appearance on the “Today” show, Wahlberg revealed more details about his faith and family life. He decided to not force his religious beliefs on his children — Ella, 18; Michael, 16; Brendan, 13; and Grace Margaret, 12.
“They think Dad’s crazy, and he’s boring,” he joked. “But even with my faith, I don’t force it on them. But they know that Dad can’t start the day without being in prayer, can’t start the day without reading my Scripture or going to Mass.”
“And hopefully, instead of forcing that on them, they’ll say, ‘Well, if it works for Dad, maybe it’ll work for us,’ and they’ll kind of gravitate towards it on their own,” Wahlberg added.
A lengthy career
Wahlberg didn’t get into acting from the get-go. He actually started off as a rapper with the stage name “Marky Mark” and formed Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. The band’s debut album, “Music for the People,” was a relative success. He took up acting in 1994 with his first role in “Renaissance Man.” He found steady work and found himself playing roles in a wide range of genres, from comedy to action.
Note: “Father Stu” opens exclusively in theaters on April 13. The film is rated R for strong language.