Yes. The Father Stu true story reveals that while attending Capital High School in Helena, Montana, Stuart Long excelled at sports. He developed a powerful physique while he was a member of the school's wrestling and football teams. He then attended Carroll College, where he spent two years playing football. It was while he was at Carroll that he developed a passion for boxing. He found success with the sport, winning the Golden Gloves heavyweight for Montana in 1985. He was runner-up in '86, the year he earned his college degree in English Writing and Literature. -Father Stu Obituary
No. After jaw surgery ended Stuart Long's boxing career, his mom, Kathleen Long, suggested that he move to Los Angeles to try and break into the movie business as an actor. This is somewhat opposite to what we see in the movie. His mother, portrayed by Jacki Weaver, is far less supportive and tells him that he doesn't "belong with those L.A. folks. They're a bunch of fascist hippies."
Yes. In the Mark Wahlberg movie, we see Stuart Long in a mop commercial. The Father Stu true story confirms that he did star in a couple of commercials and also had some bit parts, including work as an extra. His most substantial performance seems to have been playing the bad guy in a television movie. "I was in a CBS movie of the week though," recalled Father Stu, "and I had gotten typecast pretty early as the bad guy, like a hitman or something. And [in the movie] I was the head of the neo-Nazi skinhead gang in Los Angeles."
Yes. "I worked at a comedy club and a bar in the evening," said Father Stu, "and then in the daytime I could drive around and do auditions and things." -Catholic Voices
Yes. A Father Stu fact-check reveals that Carmen is based on a woman who Stuart Long fell in love with. Like in the movie, she was the one who introduced him to God. In real life, they were living together at the time of his accident. While the real Stuart Long seems to have never identified the woman by name in interviews, her physical appearance seems pretty close to Carmen's in the movie. "This girlfriend, she was a beautiful woman," recalled Father Stu. "She was a Mexican girl. She had dark, dark skin, dark eyes. She was a really nice gal."
Yes. "He felt like he was touched by God," says Mark Wahlberg, "which was the catalyst for him now being so extremely committed to serving God that he was actually gonna dedicate the rest of his life to becoming a priest." -Father Stu Featurette
"I had some really, really interesting religious experiences," Stuart later recalled, "that proved to me what I perceived to be a call of God, and it brought me into the Catholic Church."
"I can't date someone who isn't baptized," Teresa Ruiz's character, Carmen, tells Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg) in the movie. In real life, his accident prompted him to explore religion more closely, which led him to get baptized and confirmed as a Roman Catholic so that he could marry the woman he loved, not date her. They had already been dating and living in an apartment together at the time of his accident. Stu spent about a year and a half going to a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) class to prepare for his baptism and entry into the Catholic Church.
While researching the Father Stu true story, we learned that it took almost ten years for Stuart Long to become a priest after he first felt the calling to the priesthood when he was baptized in the late 1990s. He said that he "played ping-pong" with the idea of becoming a priest for about seven years. In order to better decide if becoming a priest was truly the right path, he resigned from his position as manager at the Norton Simon Museum in 1998. He found a job as a teacher at a Catholic school in Mission Hills, California, a position he held for three years.
Stuart then went to New York City and worked with the Capuchin Friars in some of the city's most economically challenged neighborhoods. The Friars sent him to Ohio to study philosophy at Steubenville's Franciscan University where he earned a Master's Degree. He was guided toward pastoral service and went to Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon where he received his priestly formation. Stuart was ordained a priest at St. Helena Cathedral in Montana on December 14, 2007, roughly a decade after he first felt the calling. -Father Stu Obituary
He first began to notice symptoms of the muscle disorder after he underwent surgery to remove a large tumor about the size of a fist from his hip while he was attending the seminary at Mount Angel in Oregon. "About 15 years ago, I just started weakening," he recalled in an interview in 2010, four years before his death, "and I thought maybe because I had such a fast life, I was just aging a little more rapidly than people my age." He was very quickly diagnosed with inclusion body myositis. "It's a different disease but it mimics ALS, so the progression looks very similar to somebody who suffers from Lou Gehrig's Disease, and there's no cure for this one either. It will claim my life."
In researching how true is Father Stu, we learned that by the time the real Stuart Long was ordained as a priest on December 14, 2007, he was relying on crutches to help him walk.
Stuart Long served as a Catholic priest for roughly six years before he died at age 50 of the degenerative muscle disease inclusion body myositis. Following his ordination in 2007, he was first assigned to Little Flower Parish in Browning, Montana. After sustaining two falls while serving at Little Flower, he was sent to the town of Anaconda, which could better accommodate his physical limitations. He didn't stay in Anaconda, Montana for long, but according to his obituary, he left a positive impression on the town's Catholic community. Father Stu lived the final four years of his life at the Big Sky Care Center.
Yes. Like in the movie, Father Stu's dad, Bill Long, tirelessly assisted his son as his son's muscle control deteriorated. Bill helped him to continue to spread the word of God both at the nursing home and throughout Helena's parishes.
Yes. In fact, he said it was the best thing that ever happened to him. "It's a very curious experience, because through the difficulties and the struggles that I've been through, the problems that have arisen from this, and the people, especially my dad, who have come to my side to support me and aid me, you know, and assist me through this life since I've been diagnosed with this, it's probably the best thing that's ever happened to me. ... It's helped me overcome some of my prideful ways, which were a big cross for me for many years. It's taught me a little humility. It's taught me dignity and respect for others, especially for those who share the condition that I'm in."
He added, "The struggles of this disease helped me and help others to learn the way that we should have been living all along. And sometimes, with people like me, there's an extreme example, we need things like this to be able to make those changes and decisions in our life that are gonna help us to become better people, to become the people that God has created us to be when he sent us to this planet."
Mark Wahlberg had been wanting to tell the true story of the boxer-turned-priest Father Stuart Long for six years. A devout Catholic himself, he was first told the story of Father Stu while he was having dinner with a group of local priests. Having been a teenage-convict-turned-famous-actor (and family man), Wahlberg identified with Stuart Long's story of redemption and saw many parallels to his own life. He also wanted to make a mainstream movie that celebrated having a close relationship with God at a time when "people are kinda shying away from faith." -CBS Sports
Of choosing to make the film, Wahlberg said, "This is certainly the most important role that I've played to date. I've done a lot of true stories as well, but, ya know, I've continued to look for things that can kinda shine more light on my faith and just give people faith and hope in general, and encourage people to come together and be the best versions of themselves." Wahlberg also cited Mel Gibson and the risk Gibson took in using his own money to make the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ as being a big inspiration for him to take on and help finance Father Stu. Gibson portrays Wahlberg's character's father, Bill Long, in the movie. Interestingly, Mel Gibson's girlfriend, screenwriter Rosalind Ross, wrote and directed Father Stu.
Not exactly. "It was different," said Stuart Long's dad, Bill, of how the movie's depiction of his son compares to real life. "They took a different path than we did, but I think they got the point across and ended up in the same place pretty much." He went on to say that despite the differences, he was "very happy with the movie." Bill had visited with the filmmakers and Mark Wahlberg a couple of times and spoke to Mel Gibson more than once on the phone.