Mark Wahlberg took shelter at Hy-Vee headquarters during a tornado

Actor Mark Wahlberg arrived in Des Moines on Saturday to screen his new film “Father Stu” in front of Hy-Vee VIPs for a charity event. Little did he know he would be spending part of his afternoon sheltering in the basement of the West Des Moines grocery chain’s corporate headquarters as the tornado sirens began to wail outside.

“I just walked in the last two hours,” Wahlberg told Des Moines Register entertainment reporter Isaac Hamlet as he prepared to interview him. Wahlberg described his flight as “flying through a tornado”.

Hamlet interviewed the star of films including ‘The Other Guys’, ‘The Departed’, ‘Three Kings’ and ‘Boogie Nights’ around 4.30pm, just as much of the metro area was under a warning of tornado. The Deadly Tornado killed six people in the winter sunsetincluding a grandmother, a father and two children from the same family, and a nobody at Chariton.

Continued:Mark Wahlberg visits Des Moines to promote new movie ‘Father Stu’

Wahlberg, with his crew for his documentary series “Wahl Street” on HBO Max, headed to the basement of the building to wait out the storm.

Actor Mark Wahlberg and Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker answer questions before the premiere of Wahlberg's new movie, Father Stu, at Hy-Vee's Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

“I have never visited the basement of this building until today, and like all Hy-Vee stores you have visited, it is immaculate,” the actor told a crowd gathered at the Ron Pearson Center at Hy-Vee in West Des Moines.

In the film, Wahlberg plays boxer-turned-priest Stuart Long, who suffered from IBM (inclusion body myositis). The film has a wide release scheduled for April 13 and also features Mel Gibson as Bill Long.

After a brief visit to the basement, Wahlberg returned to his duties to answer questions from the audience and then screen the film. Proceeds from the event benefited three youth organizations: Des Moines’ Character Counts, Minneapolis’ Page Education Foundation, and Kansas City’s 15 and the Mahomies Foundation.

Wahlberg’s relationship with Hy-Vee began in 2018 when he opened a Wahlburgers, his burger shop owned with his brothers Donnie and Paul, at the Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines. The threesome visited the store with a crowd of 5,000 fans in attendance for the opening.

In 2020, Hy-Vee announced that it convert 21 Market Grid locations in Wahlburgers fast and casual restaurants. Hy-Vee operates nine Market Grills in Minnesota, six in Iowa, three in Illinois, two in Missouri and one in Nebraska.

Wahlburger now has 18 locations in Iowa.

The tornado warning didn’t seem to scare Wahlberg and may have endeared him more to Iowa.

“I’ve never felt more welcomed and supported than with any partnership I’ve had more than Hy-Vee. More so than with Hollywood – I’m ready to move to Iowa,” said Wahlberg said to laughter from the crowd as he finished his time on stage before the film aired. “When you’re accepted somewhere and you feel a lot of love and a lot of support, it means a lot.

Susan Stapleton is entertainment editor at the Des Moines Register. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or email him at [email protected]

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