The “Father Stu” star is “starting a new chapter.”, The “Boogie Nights” star most recently transformed into a Catholic priest for the new film “Father Stu,” out April 13. Wahlberg also produced the film based on the true story of a boxer turned priest.
“The Fighter” star told Entertainment Tonight that “Father Stu” is a turning point in his career.
“I feel like this is starting a new chapter for me in that, now, doing things like this [with] real substance can help people,” Wahlberg said. “I definitely want to focus on making more. I wouldn’t say necessarily just faith-based content but things that will help people.”
He added, “Hopefully this movie will open a door for not only myself but for lots of other people in Hollywood to make more meaningful content.”
Wahlberg has called “Father Stu” a “dream role” that chose him to do “God’s good” work. The “Uncharted” star also asked the Boston priest who mentored the real-life Stuart Long to consult on the film.
Similarly, Wahlberg previously took on the true story of Joe Bell, a man who walked across the U.S. to speak out against homophobic bullying after his teenage son committed suicide. The eponymous film “Joe Bell” received mixed reviews out of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2020, and a quiet release the following year.
However, while reflecting on his career as a whole, Wahlberg hinted that he might be stepping away from Hollywood “sooner rather than later, probably” to spend more time with his four children.
“It’s got to be something special to really bring me, you know, to leave home, to leave those guys behind,” Wahlberg star said, “because it’s the biggest sacrifice in the making, for sure.”
With more than 60 films to his name, and plenty more in the works as a producer including “The Six Billion Dollar Man” big-screen adaptation and Julius Caesar epic “The Roman,” Wahlberg has been an A-list staple for decades.
Yet in 2017, Wahlberg put his breakout role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights” in a new religious light.
“I just always hope that God is a movie fan and also forgiving, because I’ve made some poor choices in my past,” Wahlberg said during an appearance at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, alongside Cardinal Blasé Cupich. “‘Boogie Nights’ is up there at the top of the list.”
Wahlberg later clarified his comments, saying, “I was sitting in front of a couple of thousand kids talking about and trying to encourage them to come back to their faith, and I was just saying that I just hope He has a sense of humor because I maybe made some decisions that may not be okay with Him.”
Mark Wahlberg on ‘Father Stu’ and Leaving Hollywood ‘Sooner Rather Than Later’
Mark Wahlberg is reaching a point in his life where it’s becoming harder and harder to leave his family behind for months-long projects, which explains why the actor says the curtain is slowly inching to a close when it comes to his career in Hollywood.
The 50-year-old actor spoke with ET’s Cassie DiLaura at his hometown screening in Boston for his latest film, Father Stu, where he opened up about family, faith and his acclaimed career as an actor and producer. Father Stu, the real-life story of a washed-up boxer who finds new purpose as a priest, is a passion project for Wahlberg, a devout Catholic himself who, as a father of four, says he’s toeing the line between imparting his faith on his teenage children and not being assertive. And it’s projects like Father Stu, drenched with substance, that really gets Wahlberg going these days.
“I feel like this is starting a new chapter for me in that, now, doing things like this — real substance — can help people,” he said. “I definitely want to focus on making more. I wouldn’t say necessarily just faith-based content but things that will help people. So, hopefully this movie will open a door for not only myself but for lots of other people in Hollywood to make more meaningful content.”
That being said, when asked when he’ll know it’s time to leave the bright lights of Hollywood, Wahlberg hinted it’s not far off.
“Sooner rather than later, probably” Wahlberg said.
With more than 60 films — and counting — under his belt and numerous credits to his name as a producer, one’s left asking one simple question — why? The simple answer is his children — Ella, 18, Michael, 16, Brendan, 13, and Grace, 12 — whom he shares with wife Rhea Durham.
Wahlberg, who went to astonishing lengths to execute the role from a physical standpoint, says it’s not easy leaving his family behind, so whatever project is calling him next has to be quite the gravitational pull.
“It’s gotta be something special to really bring me, you know, to leave home, to leave those guys behind,” Wahlberg explains,” because it’s the biggest sacrifice in the making for sure.”
With the Wahlbergs coming up on the 1-year anniversary since their mother, Alma, died last April, Wahlberg also opened up about how his Father Stu mother, actress Jacki Weaver, proved instrumental in helping him get through his mother’s death while the film was in production.
“When losing my mom during the film, she was always someone that I could lean on or rely on,” he said. “To have her there and her support was really incredible. She’s a very special person.”
Wahlberg’s faith — coupled with his portrayal of a man who exuded grace — also helped him through the grieving process.
“Well, certainly Stu’s ability to handle adversity with such dignity and grace has helped me to just focus on the good things and celebrate all the wonderful times,” Wahlberg said. “My mom was so strong even in her most difficult and vulnerable times. She just wanted us to be OK, and if we’re lucky enough to live a long life, we’re gonna all deal with very difficult times and it’s how you deal with those things and embrace those things and more importantly recognizing, seeing the good in other people.”
“This movie’s really touching everybody who sees it because we’re all going through something,” he added. “These are very difficult times and so to be able to share this with other people and remind people that things can get better … we’ve gotta lock arms and support each other.”