Mark Wahlberg has starred in over 50 movies spanning his career, but his most recent role might be his most special yet.
During his interview with TODAY’s Willie Geist for an episode of Sunday Sitdown, Wahlberg referred to his upcoming film, “Father Stu,” as the “most important film” he has “ever done” in his decades-long career. The movie, which comes out on April 13, tells the story of a former Golden Gloves boxer who becomes an unlikely priest, a role which allowed Wahlberg to embrace his deep Catholic faith.
When asked how his children felt about the film, Wahlberg recalled the moment when he showed his kids for the first time. The “Uncharted” star has four children with his wife of nearly 13 years, Rhea Durham: Ella, 18, Michael, 16, Brendan, 13, and Grace, 12.
“I remember I tried to show my kids, oh god,” he said, laughing as he spoke. “We were on holiday and we had a COVID thing going on, so we were kind of stuck in this little hotel anyways. And so I showed them and (Grace) just looked at me and she goes, ‘Dad, this has gotta be the most boring movie I’ve ever seen and that’s ever made.’”
Wahlberg clarified that they were only about halfway through the movie when she made such a bold declaration, but because she is only 12, he “let that slide.” The good news is, there was at least one fan in the family.
“But my wife was really moved emotionally,” he added.
Even though his children didn’t fully appreciate “Father Stu,” he knows that his kids are “secretly impressed” with his “work ethic,” adding, “And I have to be an example for them. I have to show them that Dad’s gonna get up and he’s gonna do whatever he has to do. I’m more driven now and determined than I’ve ever been.”
Wahlberg, who has experienced his own fair share of personal turmoil and loss, can recognize clear parallels between his life and that of the late priest. In recent years, he says he’s been working on himself, his career, along with his family and his faith, but it was a long path to get to where he is today.
“I’ve had many, many turning points, eye-opening experiences, you know, things that I’ve learned that have just kind of touched me and helped me to get to the position that I’m in now,” he explained.
Telling Long’s story and making this film was important to the actor, but getting a movie made in Hollywood is difficult in and of itself. Wahlberg explained that it was even more difficult to get “Father Stu” due to the film's subject matter, revealing that he actually financed the movie himself with the help of some of his friends.
Mark Wahlberg reveals he financed passion project, ‘Father Stu’April 7, 202205:07
The 50-year-old actor has come a long way since his childhood in Massachusetts where he was raised by a single mother, the late Alma Wahlberg, along with eight siblings. Today, he acknowledges that he is “fortunate and very blessed,” but recognizes that not everyone have the same experience.
“But imagine what others can do with a little bit of encouragement, a little bit of support, a little bit of love, and a little boost, and a second chance,” he said. “The world is starving for great leadership, for great examples, to bring people together.”
When discussing his career and his mission as an actor, Wahlberg said, “I want to make movies that challenge me as an actor, that surprise audiences, that entertain people. I want to make people laugh. I want to make people cry.”
Yet, the actor says he feels that he has the unique opportunity to do “so much more” with his platform in order to help others.
“If people really recognize the power of the film, then maybe those things will happen, you know?” Wahlberg told Willie. “We’ll see. But you know, again, if this movie does a lot and it does a lot of business, it’ll do a lot for people and then we’ll be able to do a lot with the success of the film to help others.”
Mark Wahlberg talks losing his mother while filming ‘Father Stu’April 8, 202201:31