The actor plays the father of the priest played by Mark Wahlberg in ‘The Miracle of Father Stu’, the true story of a boxer who ended up taking the robes
Based on a true story, ‘The Miracle of Father Stu’ tells how an agnostic and amateur boxer (Mark Wahlberg) took a radical turn in his life by becoming a priest and thus finding the meaning of his existence. Although diagnosed with an incurable muscle disorder, he continued his service until his death, changing the lives of many of his parishioners. Mel Gibson (New York, 1956) plays the father of the protagonist in this film that took six years to produce and that the studios rejected. Only the persistence of Wahlberg, who attends the same Catholic church in Malibu with Gibson every Sunday, made it possible for him to come to fruition.
-Why did you decide to star in this film?
-As Mark says, this is an important film because the message it offers is for the entire public and not just for Catholics. It speaks of love of neighbor, of hope, of inclusion. No one is oblivious to those feelings.
-The film has needed six years to finish. Did you ever think it wouldn’t happen?
Mark and I are men of faith. He wanted this movie to be released and so did I. We have put a lot of effort and dedication into this project, but I also think that Father Stu helped us.
-Bill, his character, is not exactly an exemplary father.
-It is impossible to be a perfect father. In Bill’s case, this is also his story. He is a man who leaves his family because he does not want to have a relationship with his son. Later, over time, they meet again and are able to overcome his mistakes.
-How would you define Father Stu?
-I would say that it was the living embodiment of grace, strength and suffering. If you listen to her sermons, you discover her humanity. He was a man capable of touching the hearts of all who listened to him, always grateful for what he had, even with the illness that afflicted him. He was a man with great dignity. His life is an example of humility. A fighter who faced everything: his opponents in the ring; whom he insulted in a bar; and then against his illness. When he found his faith, he realized that he could give up a little. And I think he learned that standing up in the fight isn’t always as effective as getting on your knees and admitting you can’t walk alone.
Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson in ‘The Miracle of Father Stu’.
-Have you also had to kneel down and admit your mistakes?
-Sure, like any other person. I have seven children and although I know it is impossible to be perfect, I try to be better for them. I have learned that there is a lesson in every mistake you make in life, so I try to make amends for my mistakes. My children are the greatest satisfaction of my life.
-How does religion, your faith, influence your day to day life?
-I’m a poor practitioner, I would like to have better faith. That’s why I look for stories like this, with protagonists like Stuart, with a faith that is unshakable. I like to be inspired by men of faith, acts of faith of others. When Mark told me about this project, I was stimulated by the convictions of this Father, the purity of his love, his heart full of God even in the moments of most doubt. As for me, I know that I am imperfect and I try to improve, but I do it in private.
-This movie restores faith in humanity?
-Real heroes don’t wear masks or leggings. What Stuart does inspires me. Such a man is necessary in society. It is a vital message because we are in a very dark period of our history and we are not learning. We are facing a sensitive, brave man, who sacrifices himself for others.