- We chatted one on one with Mark Wahlberg to discuss how he stays centered in his faith and why the story of Father Stu was so important to share. We even found out how Mark got this film greenlit despite negative feedback from the Church and what his go to music is when needing encouragement.
If you follow Mark Wahlberg on social media then you would’ve seen how he’s been jet setting across the country to promote his new movie “Father Stu.” What we’d soon learn in talking with Mark is that this movie is more than just another film for him. It’s a direct extension of Mark’s faith.
A Refreshing Story of Redemption
Based on a true story, Father Stu is an unflinchingly honest, funny and ultimately uplifting drama about a lost soul who finds his purpose in a most unexpected place. When an injury ends his amateur boxing career, Stuart Long moves to L.A. dreaming of stardom. While scraping by as a supermarket clerk, he meets Carmen, a Catholic Sunday school teacher who seems immune to his bad-boy charm. Determined to win her over, the longtime agnostic starts going to church to impress her. But surviving a terrible motorcycle accident leaves him wondering if he can use his second chance to help others find their way, leading to the surprising realization that he is meant to be a Catholic priest. Despite a devastating health crisis and the skepticism of Church officials and his estranged parents, Stu pursues his vocation with courage and compassion, inspiring not only those closest to him but countless others along the way.
Mark on Listening to God and His Faith Journey
Probably just like you, we were surprised to hear Mark had a faith based movie coming out. So of course we were curious to learn more about why this story was important for Mark to share.
“This has all been part of my faith journey. A really nice way to incorporate what I do professionally, what people know me most for) and make something that was a direct extension of my faith.”
Mark shared about how he follows the call on his life,
“I’m always asking God what is the next task. This movie was certainly a big part of focusing much more on His greater good and the things that He wants me to do.”
When we asked Mark if he faced any challenges getting this film green-lit he plainly shared,
“Ya I mean the only way it was going to get green-lit was if I wrote the check.”
It’s obvious to see how important this story was for Mark to share with the world and as we all know when we follow the path that God has laid out for us that’s when the devil comes knocking.
Negative Feedback from the Church Didn’t Deter Mark – The Importance of Authentically Sharing the Story
Spreading the good news of the Gospel without sugar coating Father Stu’s redemption story led to some initial negative feedback from the Church for Mark,
“The Church was like oh my there’s vulgarity in there. I’m like you probably didn’t get past page two. You’ve got to get to the good part. He’s got to go through the struggle to get to the light. I found it frustrating but I didn’t let it deter me. I just kept working and I thought you know what – my intentions are pure and when I make the movie I’ll bring it back to everybody and hopefully get their approval.”
The reaction from the Church isn’t wrong. Yes this film comes with an ‘R’ rating which you don’t typically see on a faith based movie. So when we asked Mark about whether he was concerned about this limiting the audience he shared,
“I’ve seen lots of faith based movies and they’re nice and really safe. But this is how a lot of people talk (vulgarity) and we wanted to make it as real and unapologetic as possible. We focused on tough mercy and tough grace.”
Despite the initial frustrations Mark faced in making this movie he was pleased to hear the positive feedback once folks got past page two.
“Thankfully when they saw the movie they realized how important (the story) was and necessary. I got nothing but glowing reviews and full support for the film. They were really supportive after seeing the movie. So that was nice”
Even though Mark faced some challenges at the beginning he was fueled by the need to share this story to help others that are struggling know that God can help them.
A Tool For Healing for Those Struggling
We asked Mark why he felt like Father Stu was such an important story to share,
“It’s a tool for healing for everybody that’s been struggling. Which really is everybody on the planet that’s been going through very difficult times. This is a movie that can really contribute to healing.”
When asked why he believes this story is unique and important for people today,
“The story is just so wildly original, inspiring, funny and tragic. I couldn’t find a single reason not to make the movie. You couldn’t predict where he (Father Stu) was going. He was just on this constant holy quest to find his purpose. It’s an amazing journey and I think people will really, really identify with Stu on a personal level. Because again we’re all going through stuff and it’s touching people and that doesn’t happen that often.”
What Mark Hopes You Walk Away Feeling After Seeing “Father Stu”
“I want people to see the greater good in people. I want people to not give up on people and lose hope. I don’t feel like anybody is beyond redemption. I want us to love each other, support each other, accept each other for who we are. Encourage each other to be the best version of ourselves and continue to do our part however small that part is in the big picture and for God’s good.”
Mark Wahlberg’s Quick Takes
How do you stay centered in your faith?
“It’s in my prayer time at the start of every day. Or on the golf course where I’m out and at one with nature. I’m able to get a little alone time to meditate and think. Of course in the evening when I’m praying. I’m constantly communicating with my higher power.”
What’s your go to music?
“If I’m in the gym I’m listening to rap music. If I’m on the plane I’m listening to Adele. If I’m in Church, yes, I’m singing some hallelujahs.”
What's Your Reaction?
Over the last 30 years, Worship Leader Magazine has been blessed to have many different contributors on the editorial team - this is their archive.