Karen Ballard/Columbia Pictures
Mark Wahlberg took a financial risk for his latest project.
The 50-year-old Oscar nominee stars as Stuart Long in the true story drama Father Stu, which also features Mel Gibson and Jacki Weaver and is directed by Rosalind Ross. Speaking to Insider about the film, Wahlberg said he invested “millions and millions” of his own money into completing the movie.
“Let’s just say I put millions and millions of dollars into the film — and then incurring other costs because we went over schedule in production, and there are clearances for the music,” said Wahlberg, adding that a few friends who “believed in the project” also invested in it.
Wahlberg said he “prayed every day about getting this film made.”
“I cannot take credit for the movie’s success because this is God choosing me to make the film,” he added. “He knows finally I get to utilize all the talents and gifts that have been bestowed upon me for his greater good and to serve my part in his big picture.”
RELATED: Mark Wahlberg Still Has Prop Penis from Boogie Nights ‘Locked Away’: ‘Not Something I Can Leave Out’
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE‘s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
He explained that costar Gibson’s 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ “inspired” him to fund his own faith-based movie: “I was really impressed with the quality of the film and him taking a chance and financing the film himself. That was something I always appreciated. It’s his love letter to his faith in God, and it inspired me to do this.”
The star said he originally brought the script to different producers who didn’t “get it.” So he eventually took it into his own hands.
RELATED VIDEO: Mark Wahlberg Says Tom Holland Was Like His ‘Annoying Little Brother’ on Set of Uncharted
“They didn’t see the heart and the emotion and, ultimately, how inspiring it is. So I felt Mel had done it with The Passion, maybe I try it. And if I did find someone to finance, then that’s a whole other conversation because typically the person cutting the check also has notes and wants to be involved in the process,” Wahlberg said. “So I felt, you know what, I think it’s better if I just step up and have complete control.”
He added, “I’m always willing to bet on myself.”
Wahlberg recently told Entertainment Tonight that he hopes to make more movies that “can help people,” including additional faith-based stories like the one told in Father Stu, in theaters Friday.
“I feel like this is starting a new chapter for me in that, now, doing things like this, real substance, can help people. I definitely want to focus on making more,” he said. “I wouldn’t say necessarily just faith-based content but things that will help people. So hopefully this movie will open a door for not only myself but for lots of other people in Hollywood to make more meaningful content.”