Mark Wahlberg has heard nearly each eye-rolling film pitch conceivable. So when one among his parish monks saved nagging him about making a biopic on an eccentric clergyman, Wahlberg’s first intuition was to remind him to remain in his lane.
Yet one evening over dinner, the religious Catholic modified his thoughts about portraying Stuart Long, an agnostic and ill-tempered boxer from Montana who made an unlikely and devoted transition into the priesthood. Suddenly, Father Stu grew to become a ardour undertaking.
“It dawned on me that this could be something special, and I should be doing more to acknowledge my faith and using the platform I have for good,” Wahlberg mentioned throughout a current go to to Dallas. “It’s like Stu finding his calling after going through so much and such a long journey, desperate to find it. When he did, he was so committed and dedicated to it.”
Wahlberg put cash behind these convictions, funding a lot of the undertaking himself. He even contemplated making his directorial debut earlier than turning the reins over to Rosalind Ross, a first-time filmmaker who additionally wrote the screenplay.
One factor they each instantly agreed upon — ditching the historically healthful method to faith-based films by not softening the perimeters simply to evangelise to the choir.
“We wanted to make a movie that was edgy and real,” Wahlberg mentioned. “I wanted a movie that spoke to everyone. The timing couldn’t be any better. It’s about tough mercy and tough grace. Stu was very unapologetic and straightforward. He spoke to people in a way they could understand. And they knew he had credibility and real-life experience.”
The movie follows Stu as his newbie boxing profession is halted by damage, prompting him to hunt fame in Hollywood. Ostracized by his overbearing father (Mel Gibson), Stu meets a Sunday college trainer (Teresa Ruiz) who gives consolation when a near-death accident prompts a religious awakening. Eventually proving himself as a person of the fabric, his coarse charms make him standard amongst parishioners earlier than he suffers one other well being setback within the type of a uncommon and debilitating muscle affliction.
Wahlberg gained 30 kilos throughout manufacturing to painting Long at totally different phases of his life. The movie was shot principally in sequence to assist the 50-year-old star handle the bodily transformations to his physique and his facial hair.
“So much of Stu’s identity was predicated on his physical attributes,” Wahlberg mentioned. “To really show what the disease did to him, I wanted to do the weight gain for that, to show how he started to deteriorate and how drastically it happened. It was important for the movie.”
Furthermore, doing justice to Long’s story proved difficult with an formidable 30-day capturing schedule with pandemic restrictions in place. Yet for Wahlberg, the expertise was additionally one among his most rewarding. Father Stu opens in theaters this week.
“He was a very colorful guy, so it was awesome to get an opportunity play him,” Wahlberg mentioned. “Everything happens for a reason.”