Mark Wahlberg has been trying to mount a biopic on boxer-turned-priest Father Stuart Long for at least six years. Now, however, thanks to help from above – or at the very least, Malibu – it looks like the feature project may be finally going before cameras.
Wahlberg has enlisted Mel Gibson and writer-director Rosalind Ross, Gibson’s longtime partner, for the biopic, titled Father Stu. Ross has written the script and will make her feature directorial debut, with Wahlberg playing the embattled priest. Gibson would play Long’s father while Teresa Ruiz, one of the stars of Narcos: Mexico, on board to play his girlfriend.
Production is expected to get underway mid-April in Los Angeles.
It is unclear who is backing the production but sources have said Wahlberg is partially investing in it, so strong is his belief in it. Stu has the possibility of being a career-defining movie for Wahlberg and others if it were to work out how everyone involved would like it to.
The story is one of grit, faith and redemption. Long was an angry young man, alienating both students and priests at the Catholic college he attended, turning to boxing as a release. A hoped-for career didn’t take off thanks to a broken jaw so he moved to L.A. for a career in the movies. Even that wasn’t working out when one evening he suffered a horrible motorcycle accident – he was hit by one car, then run over by another. In the hospital, according to reports, he had an out of body experience and rediscovered his faith and enlisted in Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon.
Here, Long’s life took another curve, as while studying, he was diagnosed with a rare degenerative muscle disease and by the time he was ordained as priest, he was on crutches. By the time he was a full-fledged priest working on Montana, he was performing duties in a motorized chair. When he passed away in 2014, many were looking to him as an example of faith and love overcoming pain and hardship.
Wahlberg had pursued the story for years and at one point, around 2016, was working with David O. Russell, with whom he made Three Kings and The Fighter, among others, on an iteration.
It is unclear when the project changed tracks but Ross is said to have been working on Stu for several years now. The writer had become a go-to scribe for several actors, including Wahlberg, after gaining notices thanks to her script Barbarian landing on the 2016 Black List.
Wahlberg has also been itching to work with Gibson for years, and the two cemented a friendship when Gibson was hired to play the younger actor’s father in the 2017 Paramount comedy, Daddy’s Home 2. Gibson’s involvement only became a reality in recent weeks with his deal closing days ago.
Wahlberg is repped by WME and Leverage Entertainment. Ross is repped by Range MediaGibson is repped by APA and Brecheen Feldman.Ruiz is repped by Grandview.