You may know him from the Mel Gibson directed The Passion of the Christ film. Actor Jim Caviezel starred in the film, playing the role of Jesus Christ. The film captures Jesus’ final hours and crucifixion in a way that many moviegoers had never seen before.
His acting was moving and helped people develop a new appreciation for Jesus’ love and courage on His path to the cross. What you may not know is that Caviezel is a devout Christian who isn’t afraid to share his faith on and off the screen.
Caviezel is strong in his Catholic faith and this faith has helped him navigate through Hollywood. In an interview with People, Caviezel said that he is drawn to roles that enable him to be the light.
“The light is much brighter in the darkest of places. In those darkest of places, I want to be the center of it. I was drawn to that,” Caviezel said.
He stands behind his faith so much that he has refused to play certain roles or scenes if it compromised his faith or beliefs. Out of respect to his wife, Caviezel refused to do nude love scenes in the movies Angel Eyes with Jennifer Lopez and High Crimes with Ashley Judd, ChurchLeaders.com reports.
As a devout Catholic, he opposes abortion. He has used his position as an actor to speak out for pro-life causes. He also used his platform to challenge the church to not lose the faith.
Caviezel and his wife have adopted three children from China who were battling cancer. They felt a sense of calling to them.
“Two of them had brain tumors and one had cancer sarcoma. Their chance of survival wasn’t great, but I wanted to help…They make me want to be a better man. Love is a decision.”
He also credits God not only his talent but also his successes to God. He told Faithwire during a Facebook Live appearance that his gift is from God.
“It was a gift given to me. I didn’t give it to myself,” he said.
When Caviezel feels a special calling to a play a role, he follows through. During the filming of The Passion of the Christ, he almost died during filming.
“I thought I would put the makeup on and prepare the same way and we would shoot it in studio and suddenly I realized I was in a fight for my life. It was very cold and I got hypothermia. The makeup burned my skin and I caught pneumonia in both lungs. I was struck by lightning and eventually had two heart surgeries including open-heart.”
Despite major health setbacks, he was committed to completing this role. He felt like playing Jesus in the film was an important part of his faith journey.
“I need him every day. I feel the lack of love in the world and in myself at times and I’m looking for purpose like everyone else. In this business that doesn’t suffer fools, when the world kicks you, I know that I have my personal Savior right there with me and he feels the pain that I feel.”
While he is best known for his role as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, he also played the evangelist Luke in the film Paul, Apostle of Christ. In the film, he visits Paul (James Faulkner) in prison to put the apostle’s story and teaching in writing for distribution to Christians in Rome and abroad. Those writings would late become the book of Acts in the Bible.
Caviezel looks for stories that have great redemptive qualities because that’s the truth that he knows, he said in an interview.
“When I read this, I thought this is more of what I’m supposed to do,” Caviezel said. “I just look for redeemable qualities in it. I think you walk away from a movie like this affected in a lot of ways.”
While Caviezel is known for his biblical roles, playing Paul was quite different than other characters he’s played. What he found most fascinating in his research of Luke was not only his background, but also the way Christ worked through him.
“You’ve got Matthew, you’ve got Mark, you’ve got Luke and here’s a guy who’s a pagan that’s writing one of the gospels,” Caviezel. “Our Lord’s message is universal and it can hit anybody, but we all have an emptiness in our heart.”
He knows that there is a lot that viewers can take away from his roles, even those who may not have known Christ.
“I had a friend of mine watch the movie who likes me as a person but doesn’t come from any faith and he watched the movie and was simply blown away,” Caviezel said. “He said, ‘Jim, the writer of this is brilliant and I said, ‘why so,’ and he said, ‘That line ‘To live as Christ, to die is gain,’ is truly brilliant,’ and I said, ‘That was written by Paul.”
A couple days later, Caviezel’s friend asked if he could see his Passion of the Christ movie.
“He was right on the edge, and it planted a seed and that’s a big change but he felt loved in the movie and he felt home,” Caviezel said. “That’s all I wanted to convey to people is that our Lord wants them to feel home with Him. He loves them and wants to give them the life they were meant to have.”
Caviezel has also said in a number of interviews that he will once again play Jesus in the much-anticipated Mel Gibson directed, The Resurrection of the Christ. Caviezel believes that the sequel to The Passion of the Christ will “be the single biggest film in history.”
“It’s a huge responsibility,” Caviezel said. “Our industry, often times when they get a film that is biblical, they change it in many ways … when you start doing that and taking liberties like that … it loses its value.”