A Hollywood star says he had the divine inspiration to turn the real-life redemption story of a priest into a film.
Father Stu is being released on Wednesday, April 13. Trying to stay true to the real-life character of Father Stuart Long, Mark Wahlberg, who plays the lead, kept in the gritty aspects of the boxer turned priest's life, including profanity. This gives the movie an R rating.
This was a passion project for Wahlberg and when the funds to finish it wasn't there, he used his own money to help.
Wahlberg struggled to make the movie a reality as his mother passed away during the pandemic, he wasn't able to attend church with the lockdowns, and Hollywood refused to fund the project. None of this stopped Wahlberg and his co-star Mel Gibson from finishing the film.
"All this talent, and especially the gifts that have been bestowed upon me and the blessings have been for a reason," Wahlberg says in an interview with The Christian Post. "It's not to go off and do another five ‘Transformers,’ this was part of the calling. This movie came to me at a time when I was prepared enough to be able to do it justice, to be able to go out there and articulate the message and the meaning behind it."
Wahlberg plays the main character, Long, and Gibson stars as Long's father, Bill.
"This is a movie about redemption, and no person is beyond redemption, as long as they're willing to repent, and they have good intentions in their heart, and they want to make a change. I'm just glad that I was able to get it made, I'm glad that it's resonating with everybody because everybody can identify with his story in some sort of way."
Wahlberg shared that he had an easy time relating to the character of Long and many of the same struggles he faced.
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"We're all dealing with loss, uncertainty, lack of faith, hope, just questions of why things happen," he says. "To be able to see somebody handle it with such grace in some of the most difficult and trying times after being through so much, it gives people a lot of hope."
Over the course of shooting the film in only 30 days, Wahlberg shared his heart off-script in mini-sermons.
"That's just me talking to them from the heart and just telling them that God's not going to give up on them, don't give up on themselves. That's a very important thing because when you have nobody to root for you or to support you, that's the most difficult thing. People need to know that people care. That people love them and support them and they're rooting for them and they want them to see them do good. That is very important."
In early April Wahlberg attended an advanced screening of the movie in Long's hometown of Helena, Montana alongside Long's family and friends.
"My destiny is different from everybody else's destiny. How it's written was not by me. It's time for me to go out there and go through the motions, but this is God's doing!"