Busted Halo
feature: entertainment & lifestyle
June 15th, 2009

Busted: Jim Caviezel

The star of The Passion of the Christ discusses faith, Hollywood and his new film The Stoning of Soraya M.

 
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BH: Busted Halo is a magazine for spiritual seekers. The generations we talk to are spiritual but not religious. Can you talk about your own journey briefly? The choices you make? What would you say to the readers of Busted Halo who are struggling with belief?

JC: What you do in private is who you really are. When you’re in private is where you’re going to find your spirituality. There are three voices within you: Good (Christ), the Devil, and yourself. When you’re alone, ask the voice who is good if He is real and see if that makes a difference. If you’re going to find Jesus you’re going to have to do it in a quiet place. He’s everywhere, but where he works best is when He’s alone and quiet with you.

BH: In terms of going forward with your next projects, are you getting the kinds of scripts you like? You talked about being branded with The Passion of the Christ. Do you keep doing projects you’re interested in?

JC: I don’t look at it this way. I made a decision to do it. I knew what it was going to be. I knew. But can you imagine saying no to this movie and standing on the sidelines? I could have gotten a lot more from the world had I not done it. But I imagine myself in my big castle looking out at the movie and going, “What was I thinking?” I wasn’t made to sit in; I was born to stand out. I get to be a part of projects that entertain and also that help me grow, that’s how I look at it, not just as an actor but as a person. Occasionally I’m involved in projects that touch other people, like The Passion of the Christ or The Stoning of Soraya M., that make their lives a little better, or more interesting for the moment, that make them think.

BH: You talked about being branded with The Passion of the Christ

JC: I don’t look at it this way. I made a decision to do it. I knew what it was going to be. I knew. But can you imagine saying no to this movie and standing on the sidelines?

I would say that one of the greatest challenges in 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 are completely outside my control… and that’s where faith comes in. I may be fortunate and fall into a role through the strangest circumstances or in other cases may not get to be a part of something that I have a particular passion for because of all sorts of reasons beyond my control, like, for example, after doing The Passion of the Christ. But on finished projects, I’ll see a wonderful film with a great cast and script and it may never find an audience. When the project is one of your own and you have 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 can be proud of that may have been more within your responsibility or control. Those are not easy things to accept on a day to day basis. When there are so many chances for disappointments through the process, trying to keep some perspective can be a struggle.

BH: Were you disappointed in the way some Christians took The Passion of the Christ? Do you think some people manipulated it on the Christian side?

JC: Of course. It will always be that way. I knew there were going to be people in my own faith who were going to give it a bad name, and if you look closely sometimes I do too. But I can’t sit on the other side and say I’m not going to be Christian because this guy did this and that guy did that. If some person of a different colored skin steals something from me then all of those people of that particular colored skin do that sort of thing. I mean, that’s ignorant in itself. So why, when using religion, doesn’t that translate? For some reason it doesn’t.

BH: I do think The Stoning of Soraya M. is a really powerful movie. There were some shots, especially during the stoning, that remind me of some of the shots in the Crucifixion scenes in The Passion. Were you aware of any of those parallels while you were filming?

“What happens is, for example, you go to Church on Sunday… and Monday through Saturday there’s a stoning that occurs or there’s some girl in your office that is raped and you know about it. Something of high immorality happens and it could cost your reputation, your good name or even your very life to stand for the truth. And at that point you dismiss faith, you dismiss the Cross, but you go to Church on Sunday. It reminds me of that song “The Wanderer” [by U2] where Johnny Cash sang that he went to the church but the people ‘don’t want God in it.’ And this is where we’re at right now.”

JC: Yeah, of course. I was aware of the story. Look, the Gospels are 2,000 years ago and obviously when we look at the book — Church has to be more than just Sunday, it has to be every day in your life. What happens is, for example, you go to Church on Sunday… and Monday through Saturday there’s a stoning that occurs or there’s some girl in your office that is raped and you know about it. Something of high immorality happens and it could cost your reputation, your good name or even your very life to stand for the truth. And at that point you dismiss faith, you dismiss the Cross, but you go to Church on Sunday.

It reminds me of that song “The Wanderer” [by U2] where Johnny Cash sang that he went to the church but the people “don’t want God in it.” And this is where we’re at right now. And it’s so easy to become angry and cynical… It’s everywhere, even in Christianity now. This is what we can’t buy into. It’s like by doing that, we’re cool. I’ll tell you what isn’t cool by the world’s standards — and now by many modern Christians — holiness! That’s cowardice. Giving is seen as a weakness now, unless you’re expected to get something in return. You know, this isn’t our faith. I don’t know what this is… but Paganism has molded into Christianity in some ways. And it has no part of it. And in fact if that’s the way it goes then you will see Christianity continually drop in numbers. There will be no calmness in cynicism; there will be no peace in that. And that’s what people are dying for. That’s just a cover for seculars to kind of show that they’re tough outwardly, but inside they’re dying. They’re dying of wanting love, real love.

BH: Given your passion for things like this, I wonder how long you want to be in acting, as opposed to producing or directing something that is closer to your heart in terms of justice and love? Will you be moving into that area?

JC: I’m already moving in that way as far as producing and getting things made. Obviously, my name is above the credits in this movie but there are other actors who carried the movie. I just helped carry it to the public. That was my job, drawing attention to it. You’re already working, already going through shots, you’re more than just an actor, you spend a great deal in the writing, you spend a great deal in talking about cuts and the direction of how the character should go. When you play the lead, you’re always the through line [what links individual actions and moves things forward] of the story. So you get to understand through lines just as much as the directors you work with because you have to act it out on the court. You know, many players may play for years and they may be the main guy and some of them eventually coach and some of them don’t. I look at it with that in mind. I don’t know exactly when I’ll become the director. Right now I can do two or three movies a year and be in and out of things and play a lot of different roles, that’s what interests me right now. If I find something that I really believe in and feel that I have the visual for, then that’s what I would do eventually.

How to help…

Women’s rights violations happen all over the world. Whether it is stonings, honor killings, domestic violence, or other atrocities toward women.

Click here to get involved with organizations working to stop stonings, honor killings, domestic violence and other atrocities toward women.

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The Author : Bill McGarvey
Bill McGarvey is co-author of Busted Halo’s Freshman Survival Guide. Bill was editor-in-chief of Busted Halo for six year. In addition to having written extensively on the topics of culture and faith for NPR, Commonweal, America, The Tablet (in London), Factual (Spain), Time Out New York, and Book magazine, McGarvey is a singer/songwriter whose music has been critically acclaimed by the New York Times, Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Billboard and Performing Songwriter. You can follow him at his website billmcgarvey.com or on Facebook.com/billmcgarvey
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Jeff O.

    Oops, I see Mr. Snyder spells his name as Zack Snyder.

  • Jeff O.

    Thanks for this interview! Just came across it today (10-27-2010).

    I pray (and even fast a bit) that, if it’s God’s will, Jim Caviezel is chosen to play Superman in the next Superman film (2011-2012). He reportedly came close at one point to getting the role the last time around in 2005-2006.

    Sure, there is an immediate symbolism if “Jesus” played “Superman.” When the character is presented at his best, the Samson-esque Superman can be an angel figure who swoops in and saves — and fights evil when necessary, a Moses figure as a baby sent to safety by his family, and even a Christlike person who sacrifices some of his own happiness for the sake of others — even willing to lay down his own life. But I also want to see Jim get the role because he is a great actor and looks the part of Superman!

    One report now is that Zach Snyder, the director of the new film, is considering an older actor for Superman (and not necessarily a person in his twenties). The last time around, Jim said he was willing to work out for the role and was interested if the script was good. I still see some other fans these days online besides myself hoping that Caviezel gets the role for the new film.

    If you like Jim Caviezel, please consider joining me in praying that he gets the role of Superman if it’s God’s and the Virgin Mary’s desired will for Jim. And I’m sure Jim, given the role, would be a great role model for kids who love Superman.

    Seriously, thank you. God Bless.

  • louisa

    I think Jim is one of those who is frank and live his Faith in the modern times.

  • Barbara Stockton

    Jim Caviezel, though human, appears to me to be annointed by Jesus Himself, if I may say so without turning some people off. His acting is THE BEST because, I believe he receives grace to live the part. I believe grace is spiritual adrenaline, like when a mom picks up a car off her child…it’s an infusion of grace…and this, I believe is the working out of God’s best in Jim. I looked up this site to just try to learn more about him, perhaps his writings, etc. He is a great encourager and example in the faith. I pray for his safety, and and that he will be guarded by angels.

  • Melanie

    Jim Caviezel is by far a very courageous man to take on a role such as this one- he’s my favorite actor, and it is so comforting to know that there is one man in Hollywood that stands by his faith regardless of the cost. Way to go, Jim!!

  • LARONDA JOLLY

    I LOVED THIS INTERVIEW, VERY IMFORMATIVE, AND I LOVED IT WHEN HE SAID THERE IS THE GOOD WHICH IS JESUS THE DEVIL AND YOU. WE ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE BEFORE US TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THE TWO, FOR GOD SET’S BEFORE US LIFE AND DEATH, EVIL SPELLED IN REVERSE IS LIVE WE MUST LIVE FOR LIFE THROUGH JESUS, MAKING YOUR SUFFERING A WAY TO HELP OTHERS. THE ONE THAT SUFFERS MAKES A CONNECTION WITH GOD ABOVE TO BRING CHANGE TO THE WORLD A POSITIVE CHANGE , I HEAR THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND WISDOM IN WHAT JIM IS SAYING, GOD BLESS YOU TO ALLOW HIM A CHANCE TO SPEAK AS THE SPIRIT GUIDES HIM,

  • Bob Zyskowski

    Working for Catholic newspapers for 36 years, I could identify with Caviezel. Because I write for a Catholic publication I feel bound to live my faith because it’s the right thing to do, of course, but to give evidence that I practice what I preach — that I believe and live the values I write about. Everybody needs time “away from the office,” so to speak, so I absolutely understand clergy who go without the collar on occasion. But the collar doesn’t make the priest, and I’ve witnessed some of the most priestly ministry by priests who aren’t wearing the garb; their pastoral demeanor shows through without any outward sign.

    The flip side is that I’ll often wear a Catholic Spirit logo shirt just because I want folks to inquire about it, to engage me in conversation about faith. You wouldn’t believe how it works on airplanes!

  • Jim

    Great interview. You asked the right questions and let him respond; and he did! Jim’s a courageous man.

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