Jim Caviezel: The Power of 'Moral Reminders' in Film
The actor who played Jesus in "Passion of the Christ" talks about his new film and how his movie roles help him grow.
BY: Dena Ross
Do you think that you're extra-vulnerable, as someone who's publicly proclaimed his faith, to rumors or gossip by the media?
I get a chance to be a part of projects that entertain and also that help me grow, not just as an actor, but also as a person. I also hope that I am occasionally involved in projects that touch other people in ways that make their lives a little better, more interesting for the moment that makes them think. I would tell you that one of the greatest challenges of being in the film business in Hollywood is accepting that I have a specific job in the business and that many of the other aspects of a project in which I may be involved that are completely outside my control.
I may be fortunate and fall into a role through the strangest circumstances or, in other cases, may not get to be part of something that I have a particular passion [for] because of all sorts of reasons beyond my control. On finished projects, I will oftentimes see a wonderful film with a great cast and script and that may never find an audience like this one.
When the project is one of your own and you've invested a lot of your heart in it, it can be crushing if you focus too much on what should have happened rather than accepting what you could be proud of that may have been more within your responsibility and control. Those are not easy things to accept on a day-to-day basis.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse that inspires you?
Philippians 4:13. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
How does that help you as an actor?
Look at my work. Look at what I came into [in] the business. I wasn't surrounded by Christians in this business, I was surrounded by actors. It's no different than when I played basketball. I don't think Michael Jordan cares whether or not you're a Christian. He cares whether or not you can play and help him win games. That's the bottom line. In this business, I earn my respect on how I perform. That's it.
Is there anything else about the new movie you want to talk about?
Some [people] have walked out on the movie. I said, "Understand that it might be hard to watch this, but understand that that lady and many of those women that have gone through this, suffered a little bit more than we did." It's good to bring attention to things that are highly immoral. In this case, I think it's more immoral not to do anything about it.
Weren't there similar responses to "Passion of the Christ"—where people couldn't bring themselves to finish watching it?
I think that people understand what the story is. It's about whether they see it or not. This one, they'll hear about it, and it's the same thing. We're all playing the story out of the Bible right now. Many of us are different characters. We always try to think of ourselves as the saints and the good characters, but many of us are playing the Pharisees, Pontius Pilate, Judas. There are good and there are bad in this world. But our job is not to figure that out. We just know who we are and try to take as many people we can to Heaven by how we live our life.
And I think stories like this, moral reminders, they're powerful. If we cower in the movie, we'll probably cower in life. If we cower in the movie, then we say, "I'm not ready. I've got to get ready." Something might come up where people are going to run from or walk away from, and I know I'm not there yet.
It's a humility thing. And eventually, that's when greatness happens [and] you're able to do courageous things. Movies like this help you see where you're at. Yes, it's very difficult to watch, but also, have you ever watched a move at times and you feel like you'd run? Well, you probably will in real life, too.
And so, playing it out is kind of a trial run--a practice for the real thing that might come to your doorstep one day. We all are going to have to make that, and it'll be different ways. It'll be different things. It'll be a trial like that and different ways to prove our love for God. Eventually, that will happen. I can promise you this much: It will take everything out of you, and it will demand nothing less than courage from God. If you won't have it within you--if you don't have it within you—we won't be able to do it when it really counts.
In this film adaptation of the novel of the same name, an Iranian woman (Shohreh Aghdashloo) tells the story of her niece's violent death to a journalist (Jim Caviezel).
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