Jim Caviezel

Jim CaviezelI PLAYED JESUS IN THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST

My name is Jim Caviezel. I have been married for fourteen years, and we are both from Washington State.  We have two adopted children from China. One is ten and one is eight.

The Passion was a global phenomenon and is still the number one R-rated movie of all time. This is how I got that part.

I met with Steve McAveeney and forty minutes later Mel Gibson walked-in. Mel is a very shy person and is always looking down and smoking non-stop. They called my agent, but they didn't want me to know that it was the Passion movie about Jesus. So they sent me a script called Mavericks, a surfing competition, that they're actually considering doing. The script wasn't that good and I told them so.

For fifteen years Mel felt in his heart that God was calling him to make this movie, and he knew what would happen if he did.  They used a surfing movie as a front. Mel started talking about Jesus, and I'm visualizing Jesus on a surfboard.

Well He did walk on water, but He might not surf.

I said, “You want me to play Jesus?” He says, “Yep.” The next day, he called me at home and he tried to talk me out of it. You make a commitment to Christ that you're going to do that and then the devil comes in. All of a sudden, “I thought I’m not good enough to do this movie. I was told, “If you do this movie, you may never work in this town again. And I don't want to be responsible for that.”  I realized that God put me in this business. My talent came from God not from man. So, I said, “Look man, we're all called to carry our own cross. If you don't pick it up and carry your across, you will be crushed by the weight of it.” Mel got real quiet on the phone. I said, “Oh, my!”  I just realized that my initials are JC and I'm 33 years old.” Mel said, “God you're freaking me out” and hung up the phone.

Jim Caviezel

I realized I must build a relationship with Jesus before I accepted the role. There would be incredible hard physical demands on me. I am learning the language. I needed to understand the climate that I was going to be working in and understand the preparation required.

Here's the script. I read it. Then I started researching it. This script comes from the Bible. What was amazing is that everybody wants resurrection. Nobody wants suffering, but can you have the gold medal without suffering? Can you hold your country's flag? You have a gold medal around your neck and you’re weeping. Or are you crying because Nike just called and is giving me a $30 million contract.” 

I see the sacrifice. I see my family suffering. I see them what they might be. I see people giving their life for God, and shedding their own blood.

If I'm going to do this movie, I don't want to do the passion of mediocrity, or something that is a little pagan. Jesus was arrested by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane which ultimately led to his crucifixion. The Romans were partially responsible, but looking at it day after day, we are all responsible because Christ died for our sins. All of mankind betrayed Him.

Doing the movie in a controlled set would have diminished the performance of a man birthed in pain. It immediately threw me on my face. My shoulder was separated. At that point, I'm thinking, “Hey God, hello, we're trying to do a movie here. Do You know I'm just an actor?”

The devil is trying to destroy us. At the same time we're getting phone calls from major publications interested in Mel Gibson being anti-Semitic and all the cursing. I remember at one point, Mel Gibson would take God's name in vain, and I would say, “Hey, as Jesus, and looking like Jesus,” I said, “Don't take my Father's name in vain.”

As an actor I took on the person of Jesus. I didn't want people to see me. I wanted them to see Jesus.

When people come to the theater, I what them to experience the way God sees them and not the way we see ourselves.

I was discouraged when I was accidentally hit with whip. While carrying the cross my shoulder was dislocated, while upon the cross. My normal weight was 210 pounds, but during the filming I was about 168 pounds. I was sick. I kept throwing up, and both my lungs filled with fluid. I had pneumonia. After the movie, I had to have heart surgery. I was struck by lightning on the last shot of the day.

During the whipping scene, Mel made some adjustments that were not in my favor.

During the scourging scene of the accident, we didn't really rehearse it. We had a metal plank, about a foot away from my back and they would hit the metal plank. The soldiers didn’t speak English and we didn't speak Italian. So there's a translation problem. So, Coridie, Mel’s assistant had to translate to them to hit me like baseball pitcher. They didn't play baseball.” Coridie said it is like “cricket.” So, they went back and ran at me.  I'm sitting on the metal plank and their momentum caused the whip to go around the plank. It tore a fourteen inch gash on my back. I went right to the ground and I saw God. I'm thinking about all my sins and that I'm not worthy to play this role. God doesn't always choose the best, but he chose me.

I was in a place of deep dark zone throughout the whole film. I was always meditating and always praying the whole time. I wanted to reflect Christ. This was important because I knew that the people would be able to see Jesus in prayer. I prayed daily and fasted. The fasting was immediate because of the sickness. At the end of the movie when I was on the cross, my body is blue. There was no makeup. My body was actually blue. Between takes they would take me down from the cross.  My shoulder was locked and I’m looking over a thousand foot cliff. They would hit the cross and my shoulder would go out of joint. At that point, I was so sick and thought my arm would be ripped off. I could barely feel it. I knew something was wrong with my heart. A man put a stethoscope on my heart and he said, “Mel, he can die.” At that point Mel was a gambling man and he said, “Jim, what do you think?” I said, “I'm going.” This is between me and God because I never thought I was good enough. 

At that moment, I was ready to go home, and You can take me there. There's no problem, but I knew if I died making this movie many people would be saved.

At the end of the movie, I was walking up the mountainside. There were about 250 people with me. I felt this presence come over me, an evil presence. It was, “You're a dead man.” I remember thinking that this is the best news I've ever had because I know if I die, I'm going to heaven. I got to the top. It was about the fifth take. The clouds were so low. It was thundering and lightning. It sounded like a howitzer; it was so powerful that you could feel the earth move.

I saw two people. Their eyes were looking up, and they were watering like they were going to cry. I couldn't feel it and I heard a huge gassed in the audience because they saw something. I couldn't hear anything, but it was like an eye of a storm. If you're in the eye of the storm your hair could be blowing. It could be 30 knot winds and I'd never heard the wind blowing. It was silence. Five seconds, four, three, two, one and this light came right down from heaven and lit me up. What people witnessed was an illumination around my body and a fire on the right and left side of my head. For one moment, I was looking at myself outside my body. I was struck by lightning.

There are three groups of people. There were the believers, the non-believers, and there were defense writers. They're the ones that are very indifferent about it.” Two of those are bad decisions, but what was amazing is that people, who think the offense writing, think that that's not a choice. It is a choice you are offense writing and that is a decision that one is making, but when I was hit, everybody fell on their face. The ground shook and movie was over.

I couldn't breathe. When you’re hung on a cross, you die by asphyxiation and suffocation. The Lord was letting me feel a little of what he went through.

Jim CaviezelHearing His Voice Testimony

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