(LifeSiteNews) — Catholic Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg has released his first faith-based movie, Father Stu.
The movie, which premiered Tuesday, follows the true-life story of the late Father Stuart Long, a boxer-turned-priest who, soon after entering the priesthood, developed a debilitating inflammatory muscle disease called inclusion body myositis.
The movie stars Wahlberg as Fr. Stu, and fellow Catholic Mel Gibson as Fr. Stu’s father.
Wahlberg co-produced the film and put his own money into financing it.
In an exclusive interview with Catholic podcast host Matt Fradd, the Hollywood actor discussed the origin and making of the film.
Wahlberg explained he first heard about Fr. Stu at a dinner party with two priests. After listening to one of them insist that he make a film about Fr. Stu’s life, he decided to do it.
“Something within the story just got my attention … and by the end of that dinner I committed to making that movie,” said Wahlberg.
“I knew this was coming to me for a reason — this was an opportunity for me to use my platform and tell an amazing story.”
Asked by Fradd what a movie like Father Stu can teach those who are trying to “be good faithful Catholic men,” Wahlberg replied, “That they are on the right track.”
The Hollywood star has admitted having made bad decisions in his life. He has asked God to forgive him for “poor choices [he] made in [his] past,” including starring in the movie Boogie Nights, a 1997 film about the porn industry, as well as for being affiliated with gangs and ending up in jail. In this interview, Wahlberg told Fradd that his new movie is about encouraging people to persevere and hope in God.
“We all make mistakes, we’ve all had issues, but God is never going to give up on you, so keep going,” Wahlberg said.
Fradd then commented on the fact that Wahlberg intentionally gained 30 pounds in six weeks for the role.
“What was that like, gaining that much weight?” Fradd asked.
“I didn’t want to do the ‘actor-put-on-weight thing’ … but it was such an [intrinsic] part of [Father] Stu’s journey,” replied Wahlberg.
The Catholic podcaster then asked Wahlberg what it was like to work with fellow Catholic actor and co-star Mel Gibson, and whether their shared Catholic faith helped the movie.
Wahlberg replied that Gibson’s experience in making The Passion of the Christ was a great help.
“I really took a page out of his book,” he said.
Matt Fradd concluded his interview by asking the church-going celebrity about his journey to the Catholic faith and what it meant for him.
“I had a really tough upbringing, and when I realized I wanted to make change[s], I started to focus on my faith, and I started getting all these wonderful things happening in my life [which] I attributed to my faith,” explained Wahlberg.
“I attribute all of my success, and all of the positive and wonderful things that have happened to me personally and professionally to my faith,” he added.
“It all comes back to that basic foundation.”
Editor’s Note: The original version of this article stated that Mel Gibson plays Father Stu’s brother. LifeSiteNews regrets the error.