HELENA — “Father Stu” from Sony Pictures is based on the life of Helena Catholic Priest Fr. Stuart Long and will hit theaters on April 13.
MTN spoke with “Father Stu” actor/producer Mark Wahlberg and director/writer Rosalind “Rosey” Ross ahead of the Montana premiere in Helena on Monday.
Watch the full interview with Mark Wahlberg:
In his interview with MTN, Wahlberg spoke about being inspired by Fr. Stu’s story, the physical changes he went through to play the character, his own faith, and “Armageddon," the 1998 movie.
Watch the full interview with Rosalind “Rosey” Ross:
Ross spoke with MTN about the research she did to write the film, how she honestly found Stu’s story a bit unbelievable before speaking with those that knew him best, and what she hopes people can take away from seeing the movie.
Wahlberg and Ross both recognized the Monday premierewas likely one of the toughest crowds to view the film, given how beloved Fr. Stu still is in the Helena community even after his passing in 2014.
Fr. Stu Long grew up in Helena and played football for both the Capital High School Bruins and the Carroll College Saints. Long also won the 1985 Golden Gloves heavyweight title for Montana and was runner-up in 1986.
After a jaw injury from prizefighting, Long decided to move to Los Angeles and take a shot at becoming a movie star. However, Long became disillusioned with the industry, eventually becoming the manager of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.
Riding his motorcycle home from the museum one evening, he was hit by a car, then run over by another. The near-fatal experience prompted him to explore his religious faith which ultimately lead to his baptism as a Roman Catholic so that he could marry his girlfriend at the time.
Long said he felt the calling to become a priest during his baptism. In the following years, he’d explore his faith to make sure the calling was genuine. He received his priestly formation for the Diocese of Helena at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon and was ordained a priest by Bishop Thomas on December 14, 2007, at St. Helena Cathedral.
While in seminary, Long was diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, an extremely rare autoimmune disease that mimics the symptoms of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and for which there is no cure. Despite his illness, which limited his movement, Long took up ministry at Big Sky Care Center. Using a power chair, and with the tireless assistance of Bill Long, his father, Fr. Stu spread his love throughout Helena’s parishes.
Fr. Stu passed away in the early morning hours of Monday, June 9, 2014, at the Big Sky Care Center. He was 50 years old at the time.
Capital High School Alumni Class of 1981 Memorial Endowment Scholarship screenings this week in Montana.
- Missoula - The Roxy Theater - Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m.
- Helena - Mynra Loy Center - Friday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m.
- Billings - Babcock Theater - Saturday, April 9 at 6:00 p.m.
Those interested in attending the early screenings should purchase their tickets in advance. More information about the Capital High School Alumni Class of 1981 Memorial Endowment Scholarship can be found on their Facebook page.
"Father Stu" will open in theaters on Wednesday, April 13.