The trailer dropped this week for Father Stu, the new film starring Mark Wahlberg as Father Stuart Long, who had a rocky road to the priesthood, but whose tragically brief life nevertheless had a huge impact on all who knew him.
Have a look:
As you can see in the trailer, Father Stu co-stars Mel Gibson as the priest's father. Gibson's longtime personal and professional partner Rosalind Ross is the writer and director. Wahlberg is also a producer and financed the film.
In late January, Sony Pictures picked it up for release to theaters (as I reported here) on Good Friday, April 15.
UPDATE: Sony has now changed the release date to April 13.
Before being ordained to the priesthood (a vocation sadly cut short by a rare degenerative muscular condition), Stuart Long was a wrestler, football player, boxer, would-be actor, bouncer and museum manager.
His was a rough-and-tumble life, and not the resume one would expect for a man of God.
Or, is it?
These days, Wahlberg is a very public Catholic, but his past includes legal troubles, including drug use and a stint in jail, and a career as a rapper.
Despite producing the wildly successful The Passion of the Christ, Gibson has a well-known history of marital, spiritual, legal and career troubles.
But, of course, Christ is the redemption business, and that's a huge theme in Father Stu. On Thursday, Feb. 10, Wahlberg appeared with host Raymond Arroyo on his The World Over news show on EWTN.
Here's the full video:
Below find some excerpts from the conversation (the full transcript is at the National Catholic Register. Click here for that).
Wahlberg on why he did the film:
So I’ve always been kind of thinking about: How do I continue to pay for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me?
I know God didn’t put me in this position to kind of forget about where I came from. I’ve been doing lots of stuff in my own community where I grew up and worked with inner-city kids and at-risk youth.
But He doesn’t give you the gifts and the talents until it’s time to utilize [them] in the right way — and for Him and not for yourself.
So 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.
On how his journey intersects with that of Stuart Long:
... Did I think it was a great part for me to play? Yes. But it was more important to tell the story and get the story out there and encourage other people to find their own faith and their own purpose in life and bring lapsed Catholics back to church.
It felt like it was a story and a message that everybody needed to hear. And so, yes. Do I always try to find some sort of personal connection to a role? Absolutely. I need to identify with it some way.
Is this something that I identify with more than anything else? Absolutely. Is this my mission to now continue to do Stu’s work and take on that responsibility? Yes.
I’ve spent 50 years working on Mark Wahlberg, whether it was the good part of Mark Wahlberg or the bad part of Mark Wahlberg, and now it’s about doing more, giving back.
On what suffering means in Father Stu:
... Death is inevitable. Sickness, all of those things, are inevitable. We’re going to face those — 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. And people recognize that, and they recognize the truth in that.
And, it wasn’t like smoke and mirrors like, oh, no, he was glad that this happened to him. It allowed him to get closer to God through his suffering.
And it gave him the ability to share that with other people in a very honest way that was very relatable.
On the film's raw reality and rough language:
We wanted to be brutally honest. We want to make sure that this movie is not exclusive to Catholics and devout people. This is inclusive to everybody who needs people.
You remember what God's mission was, right? He didn’t come to save the righteous.
Click here for Sony's official site for Father Stu.
Image: Sony/Columbia Pictures
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.