Father Stu is a 2022 biographical drama film written and directed by Rosalind Ross in her directorial debut. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, who also produces, as Stuart Long (1963–2014), a boxer-turned-Catholic priest suffering from inclusion body myositis.
Father Stu was released in the United States on April 13, 2022, during Holy Week. The film received mixed reviews from critics, and grossed $21.6 million worldwide against its $4 million production budget.
Mark Wahlberg’s Incredible Weight Transformation
Mark Wahlberg can certainly appreciate a good cinematic physical transformation. But the actor, who regularly chronicles his fitness journeys on social media, tells EW his weight gain for Father Stu took a significant toll on him.
In director and writer Rosalind Ross’s latest film, Wahlberg play Stuart Long, a bad-boy amateur boxer whose career is destroyed due to an injury. When he moves to Los Angeles in pursuit of stardom, he ends up falling for a Catholic Sunday school teacher. Coupling his budding relationship with the aftereffects of a devastating motorcycle accident, he sheds his agnostic beliefs and sets out to become a priest.
I put on 30 pounds and went from being a guy who was in fighting shape to a guy who was wheelchair-bound, suffering from a rare muscular degenerative disease,” Wahlberg explains. “I was just turning 50 by the time we finished the movie, and I was eating 11,000 calories a day. That drastic weight gain really took a toll on me over the course of the last seven, eight months.”
Wahlberg shared before-and-after photos from his experience on social media back in May 2021. He then talked about his rocky metamorphosis with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show that following July.
“Even when you’re full, I would wake up after a meal and have another meal,” he said. “I was eating every three hours. It was not fun.”
What exactly was he eating? “I tried to do it in a healthy way,” he told E! this year. “It was a dozen eggs and a dozen pieces of bacon, two baked potatoes, a Porterhouse steak, two bowls of white rice, and a glass of olive oil. The first two weeks were high in proteins. The second two weeks were a lot of carbs. The last two weeks starches and then sodium, just to kind of get as bloated as possible.” But he toughed it out for the sake of the movie, which he spent years trying to get off the ground.
“I do like having to prepare physically as well as mentally,” Wahlberg tells EW. “That’s always ideal. You kind of say, ‘Okay, I got this movie coming up three, four, or five months, however long I have to prepare. Let me start now.’ And I become a little bit obsessive about it.”
Father Stu Cast
- Father Stuart “Stu” Long is played by Mark Wahlberg
- Mother of Stu, Kathleen Long, played by Jacki Weaver
- William “Bill” Long, played by Mel Gibson, is Stu’s estranged father.
- Carmen played by Teresa Ruiz in the role of Ham
- As Jacob, Cody Fern
- Father Garcia, played by Carlos Leal
- Monsignor Kelly is played by Malcolm McDowell.
- As Curtis, Jack Kehler
- As Barfly, Niko Nicotera
- Annet Mahendru as Mary the Virgin
Father Stu Plot
Stuart Long, a foul-mouthed amateur boxer from Helena, Montana has a troubled relationship with his mother and alcoholic father. His brother Stephen died at age six, leading to a rift in the family and causing his parents to be hostile towards religion. He moves to Southern California to try to make it as an actor, and gets a job in a grocery store, hoping to get connected in the entertainment industry. He is arrested for a DUI and attempts to steal his father’s truck to make it to an audition.
While working in the store he meets a woman named Carmen, whom he tracks to a local Catholic parish, where she is a volunteer Sunday school teacher. Carmen resists his advances, telling him she would not even consider dating him unless he gets baptized.
Stu agrees and begins RCIA at the parish, where he befriends fellow parishioners Ham and Jacob, but is looked down upon by the latter. Both Ham and Jacob are headed for the seminary. After Stu is baptized in the parish, he and Carmen begin dating and he later meets her parents.
After Stu lands an acting role on an infomercial, he faces discouragement and returns to the bar one night where a mysterious man gives him some advice and tells him not to drive home. Stu ignores the advice and drives drunk on a motorcycle, crashing into a car and being thrown off the motorcycle and run over by another car.
Severely injured, he drifts in and out of consciousness and has a vision of the Blessed Mother who tells him that he cannot die in vain. After Stu is transported to the hospital by EMTs, Stu makes a miraculous recovery despite the doctor’s grim prognosis. His father visits and re-establishes contact, though their relationship is still very strained.
Carmen visits Stu as he is recovering at home and the two have sex, which she had previously said she would not do before marriage, leading to intense regret for both of them. Stu confesses the sin and begins to transform himself to be the man that Mary asked him to be. He felt called to the priesthood, and after prayer and discernment decides to pursue the seminary.
When Stu tells Carmen of his plan, she tries to convince him not to do it, as do his mother and father, to no avail. Stu applies to the seminary and is rejected at first, but visits in person to appeal to the rector and is accepted. By this point, Ham and Jacob are also in the seminary. Ham is a reliable friend, but Jacob is something of a rival.cob are also in the seminary. Ham is a reliable friend, but Jacob is something of a rival.
One day while playing basketball with fellow seminarians, Stu falls and is unable to get up on his own. He is diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, a rare muscular disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease which has no cure and typically does not strike young people like him and the prognosis is grim.
Stu is angry with God but comes to understand his suffering as a gift from God which draws him closer to Christ’s suffering, and with much difficulty continues in the seminary. Carmen, now engaged to another man, visits him at the seminary and supports his vocation.
After some time passes, he begins losing use of his hands. The rector tells Stu that he cannot be ordained, citing his inability to celebrate the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Stu moves back to Montana with his parents, who care for him as his muscles continue to decay, his weight increases, and he loses the ability to live independently. His father, meanwhile, attends Alcoholics Anonymous, where he admits in group therapy that he feels partly responsible for his son’s condition by his neglect and absence.
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