Q&A: Mark Wahlberg talks faith, career and new movie ‘Father Stu’


Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Mark Wahlberg at a Chicago screening of “Father Stu.”

Andrés Buenahora, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

Mark Wahlberg plays the pivotal character, Stuart Long, in “Father Stu,” a faith-based film that parallels the actor’s own story of redemption.

Six years ago, the Academy Award nominee and star of “The Departed” was having dinner with two priests from his parish when he heard the story of Stuart Long, a boxer-turned-priest who had a criminal record and troubled past before coming to faith. The Daily spoke with Wahlberg about the movie’s journey to the big screen, his role change in “Uncharted” and much more.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

The Daily: What drew you to the story of Stuart Long, and why did making this movie become such a passion project for you?

Wahlberg: Well, it’s an amazing, amazing story … There wasn’t a single reason that I could find to not want to make the movie. If you think about selfish reasons as an actor, what an amazing role to play. I mean, talk about an arc, and the journey — as a storyteller, but most importantly, as a man of faith. It allowed me to make a major contribution in spreading the word about God and not so much the church, but really about the guy who died to build it. That was Stu’s mission. That’s where Stu found his purpose, and the reason for all of my success and all the positive things in my life, both personally and professionally, are because of my faith.

The Daily: Why do you think it’s important for people to see this film?

Wahlberg: People who are not of faith should see this film because you need something to be able to handle all that life throws at you. Look at how Stu handled his sickness and all the adversity that he faced. He handled it with dignity and grace. He actually embraced it to the point where he felt like, “This suffering is bringing me closer to God. Give me more of it.” It’s an amazing way to deal with the inevitable. People get sick, people get old, people die of mortality. My faith has always helped me with failure, disappointment, loss. Faith really helps you cope with all the things that you’re gonna deal with in life. People are dealing with very, very difficult things and stuff that I certainly never dealt with in my 50 years of being alive. So this movie couldn’t come at a better time. People really need it.

The Daily: What do you look for when reading a script to decide if you’d like to join a particular project?

Wahlberg: It depends. Right now, for me, it’s a very selfish process. I need the script to be fantastic. I need the part to be fantastic. I need the filmmaker to be fantastic. If it’s not a proven writer-director, then I want more control. I’ve constantly also tried to find new challenges and grow as an actor. I’m not trying to do the same thing. Even my decision to play Sully in “Uncharted.” I was cast as Nathan Drake, and then I aged out of that part. I’d look crazy trying to run around playing a 25-year-old, and now, I get to be the guy who’s barking orders from the helicopter and coming up with the plan. I love that too.

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Twitter: @andresbuena01

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