Mark Wahlberg Ate 11,000 Calories a Day to Transform into Boxer-Turned-Priest in Biopic

“It was fun for about an hour,” says actor who will play Father Stuart Long in “Stu”

Mark Wahlberg (Getty Images)

Mark Wahlberg chowed down 11,000 calories a day for two straight weeks to transform from a boxer to a priest in the true story of Father Stuart Long in “Stu,” the actor revealed on “The Tonight Show.” And for the two weeks before that, he had 7,000 calories a day — a task that the actor said “was fun for about an hour.”

“It’s such a hard, physical thing to do,” Wahlberg said about his weight gain. “Losing weight, you just kind of tough it out, you just don’t eat, and exercise. And this, even when you’re full, I would wake up after a meal and have another meal. I was eating every three hours. It was not fun.”

The faith-based drama documents the journey Father Stuart Long (affectionately known as Father Stu), who was a college football player turned boxer and Montana Golden Gloves champion to actor to museum manager to priest. That final life-change happened one night after he smashed his motorcycle into a car. In a 2010 interview. he said, “The witnesses told the sheriffs and reporters that I was rolling down the road and another car ran over the top of me. And here I am.” 

“He was a boxer, he tried to become an actor,” Wahlberg said. “He fell in love and in order to kinda win the girl over he wanted to get baptized. And then he had this horrific accident and then, once he got baptized, he wanted to go all the way and became a priest.” 

“His conversion is phenomenal, from being an agnostic trouble maker to having a mystical encounter with God,” Father Bart Tolleson, a priest at Father Stu’s parish Diocese of Helena, told Catholic News Agency.

Since Wahlberg financed “a lot” of the film himself, he knew he was “on a ticking clock on [his] own dime” to make the weight gain happen.

“I’ve been trying to get this movie made for six years [and] we only had 30 days to shoot it,” Wahlberg said. Father Stu would never live to know of Wahlberg’s interest, as he died at age 50 two years after the actor began working on the film.

“Stu” is written and directed by Rosalind Ross, who makes her directorial debut with the film. Mel Gibson plays his father.

Wahlberg’s drama “Joe Bell” premieres July 23.


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