Wahlberg said he was impressed by Father Stu’s perseverance in the face of suffering.
“[His story] gives me so much hope…because death is inevitable. Sickness, all of those things are inevitable. We're going to face those,” Wahlberg told Arroyo. “But how you face those things and how Stu is able to embrace those things. And as his physicality started to deteriorate, his spirituality just soared.”
“It allowed him to get closer to God through his suffering,” he continued. “And it gave him the ability to share that with other people in a very honest way that was very relatable.” You can watch Wahlberg's full interview with Arroyo in the video below.
Wahlberg said he was able to connect with Father Stu’s suffering because of his own father’s battle with cancer.
“My dad was the strongest guy that I ever seen,” Wahlberg said. “And then next thing I know my dad was in a wheelchair, and my dad couldn't walk, and we had to take care of him. He lived in an assisted living home, so I understood that.”
Also, Wahlberg’s mother died during the production of Father Stu. Wahlberg said his grief plays out in the film.
“Obviously [I] went to the services and everything and I was able to digest it a little bit. But I kind of kept it bottled inside,” he said. “And then I was…shooting the scene where I’m asking God ‘why?’ before crawling at the altar…and it was one take for probably about 15 minutes, and it all just came out.”
Wahlberg said he was also motivated to pursue the project because of his own Catholic faith.
“I've always been kind of thinking about how…I continue to pay for all the blessings that have bestowed upon me,” he said. “I know God didn't put me in this position to kind of forget about where I came from.”
“I've always been kind of saying, ‘okay, what is my mission? What is my purpose?’ And planting the seed, letting it blossom and then utilizing that to continue to spread His word.”
(Story continues below)
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The project took about six years to complete because Wahlberg struggled to find the right screenwriter. He told EWTN’s The World Over that he prayed for God’s intercession for the film’s success. Wahlberg ultimately chose screenwriter Rosalind Ross, who also directed the film. Sony Pictures picked it up in January.
The film does include foul language. Wahlberg said this was intentional, to make the film accessible to a wider audience: “We wanted to be brutally honest,” Wahlberg said. “We want to make sure that this movie is not exclusive to Catholics and devout people. This is inclusive to everybody…You remember what God's mission was, right? He didn't come to save the righteous.”
Father Stu will be released in theaters on Good Friday, April 15.
”I cannot wait for people to see it,” Wahlberg said. “I cannot wait to go from city to city, state to state, encouraging people to see it, showing them, having conversations and encouraging people.”