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?
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.
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