Actor Mark Wahlberg experienced a devastating loss while filming the dramatic biopic “Father Stu.” The 50-year-old Hollywood veteran lost his mother, who was 78, after her battle with dementia.
“It was tough,” Wahlberg told Extra during an interview. “She was very sick, went home to visit her … say goodbye … FaceTiming constantly … We knew that it was inevitable… I just tried to hold on and be as positive as possible.”
“She was an amazing person,” the actor continued. “She taught us all through all the difficulties that we had and face … She was very proud that we turned our lives around.”
Wahlberg said he turned to work while grieving, focusing on telling the story of the real-life boxer who became a priest and also had a degenerative, incurable muscle disorder. Father Stuart Long’s story inspired Wahlberg so deeply that he invested his own money into the project so it could get made. It took six years and a lot of work to get it done, but now the actor is proud of the story that’s being shared.
“The reason why [Father Stu] was so effective was because he was authentic,” Wahlberg said of the inspiration for the film. “He was speaking the truth from experience, and that’s invaluable … He’s such a remarkable man. It was an honor for me to portray him in the film and to tell his story.”
The “Fear” star shared his thoughts on why this film is so important to him personally, plus how the world can benefit from its message during an interview with Fox Nation in February.
“People need to have faith and hope,” he said at the time. “I just knew that I needed to make this movie, and this was my calling and this was my mission. And, now, it’s needed more than ever.”
“Hopefully, it will do some really important work and help a lot of people,” he continued. “It’s certainly a turning point for me in my life … I need to stop focusing so much on Mark and start doing much more work for God and for people and for people that are less fortunate people.”
Wahlberg said he’s a devout Catholic himself and that’s part of what made this story so appealing. During an interview with Catholic News Service, the actor said his faith meant “everything” to him.
“There’s so many wonderful things that happened to me — the good, the bad and everything else in between. I’ve been able to appreciate and have gratitude because of my faith. After I’ve done my last interview, I’ll know how to articulate it,” Wahlberg said.
He continued, “This message, this conversation and this commitment to service does not stop when the movie comes out. It’s only a start.”
Mel Gibson is also part of the cast as Stu’s father. During an interview about the role, Gibson said “the sooner” a person comes to “realize there’s something bigger” than all of us, the “easier” things are going to be in one’s life.
“Father Stu” premieres in theaters on April 13, 2022.
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