The first thing most people immediately think of when they hear the name Jim Caviezel is ‘That is Jesus Christ.’ It is the result of his role as Jesus in the classic movie Passion of the Christ. That role has turned out to be a defining moment in the movie industry to date. It took a lot of bravery and resolve for Caviezel to accept that role, two qualities he has displayed regularly so far in his career.
Jim Caviezel is not the stereotypical Hollywood star but a family man that is devoutly religious and will turn down roles that do not match his beliefs. This stance has cost him a lot in his career, but it is not something he is going to change soon. That resolve got him to the top, and he expects to overcome any challenge with it.
He Originally Thought He was Auditioning for a Surfing Movie
Jim Caviezel had been acting for a minute before he got the chance to appear in Passion of the Christ. Having moved from Seattle to Los Angeles in search of movie roles, he had started to gain a foothold in the movie industry.
He had bit-part roles in My Own Private Idaho, Wyatt Earp, and The Rock before landing a vital supporting role in the film G.I Jane. The upward trajectory continued when he got cast in the war epic The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick. Leading roles followed suit with the thriller Frequency, romantic-drama Angel Eyes, and High Crimes.
It, therefore, looked like Caviezel was ready for that explosive role that would propel him to the next level. That did not seem on the card, though, when he had his first meeting with Mel Gibson’s producing partner, Stephen McEveety.
He initially thought the meeting was to discuss a surfing movie until Mel Gibson walked in and started talking about the gospel. When the conversation turned towards what happened in the last 12 hours of Jesus’s life, he realized they were asking him to play Jesus Christ.
Caviezel Previously Turned Down the Chance to Play Jesus in Other Projects
When Mel Gibson offered Jim Caviezel the role of Jesus, it was not the first time in his career. He had previously declined similar offers to play the role of Jesus for a play and two television projects. His primary reason for declining these offers was because he felt the story would not be told without reservation and inhibition. Gibson, however, was able to convince him otherwise.
Caviezel was aware that playing such a role would be controversial. It was sounded out even more to him by director Mel Gibson. A day after he accepted to play the role, Mel Gibson called to potentially talk him out of it.
He warned Caviezel that it might hurt his career, and he might never get work frequently anymore. Caviezel resolved to play the role regardless of potential consequences. He believed all humans had their cross to bear, and he was ready to carry his as best as he could.
The Role Required a Lot of Physical Challenges from Jim Caviezel
Jim Caviezel knew playing the role of Jesus would be physically demanding and exerting. Still, he did not predict the number of challenges and injuries he would suffer during the process. He had to get up as early as 2 am to prepare for special makeup effects that lasted for eight hours.
Some of these special effects involved a swollen and shut-eye, wearing a crown with thorns as tightly as he could, and carrying a cross that weighed 150 pounds. It meant he had daily headaches at the end of filming. While filming a torture scene, one of the actors playing a Roman torturer aimed his lash poorly, and it accidentally struck Caviezel’s back. The pain was excruciating, and it created a 14-inch gash on his back.
While they were preparing to shoot the Sermon on the Mount scene, Caviezel was struck by lightning. It led to a lot of crew members screaming in fright. He also dislocated his shoulder while carrying the 150-pound cross, and it took weeks for the shoulder to heal completely.
For his scene on the cross, he had to endure being semi-naked in very chilly weather with a brisk wind, resulting in hypothermia. It was so severe that he was unable to say his lines as his mouth shook uncontrollably. His legs and arms also went numb due to the cold.
Great Roles for Jim Have Been Scarce Since Passion of the Christ
True to Mel Gibson’s warning, Jim Caviezel has found the going tough. The movie received backlash for promoting antisemitism, and Caviezel has since found it hard to get excellent roles in major productions.
Following his appearance in the 2004 blockbuster, he had a supporting role in the science-fiction thriller The Final Cut. He starred in the thriller Unknown, appeared alongside Denzel Washington in Déjà vu, before taking the lead roles in two box office failures, Outlander and The Stoning of Soraya M.
Caviezel had a supporting role in the Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger-led Escape Plan. He also played another popular bible figure in 2018 when he starred as Saint Luke in the biblical film Paul, Apostle of Christ. His latest movies have been the action-adventure indie Infidel and the nonfiction Sound of Freedom.
Perhaps his most popular and successful role since Passion of the Christ was as former CIA agent John Reese in the science fiction drama Person of Interest. The series ran from 2011-2016, and Caviezel’s character was the main protagonist. He starred in 103 episodes in total and received a nomination for People’s Choice Awards twice for his performances.
There have been recent information regarding Caviezel reprising his role as Jesus Christ in the sequel of Passion of the Christ called Resurrection of the Christ. The sequel will be directed once again by Mel Gibson. It will focus on the biblical narration of the resurrection of Jesus after being dead for three days.
Caviezel Avoids Unnecessary Sex Scenes Because of His Faith and Wife
Jim Caviezel is a married man. He has been married to his wife, Kerri Browitt, an English literature teacher, since 1996. They met each other on a blind date organized by Caviezel’s sister. Having both played basketball in their younger years, they quickly bonded over their shared love for the sport.
They also bonded over being devout Catholics with strong religious beliefs. Due to his religious beliefs and love for his wife, Caviezel frequently turns down roles that require an excessive display of sexuality or requests for some compromise to be made.
He had Jennifer Lopez and himself wear tops during their love scene in Angel Eyes and refused to strip for his scene with Ashley Judd in High Crimes.
Jim Caviezel and his wife adopted three kids with different forms of cancer from China. Two of the kids had brain cancer, and the third one had sarcoma. The kids had been abandoned and unwanted before Caviezel and his wife took steps to adopt them legally.
Caviezel Was Born into a Very Devout Catholic Family
Jim Caviezel was born on the 26th of September 1968 to James Caviezel, a chiropractor, and Margaret Lavery, a former stage actress, and homemaker. He was born in Mount Vernon but raised in Conway, both in Washington. He is of Slovak and Swiss origin from his father’s side and Irish from his mother’s.
His father played basketball back in the day. The love for the sport reflected on Caviezel, who also played the sport extensively while in high school and part of college before a severe injury put an end to his basketball ambitions.
Caviezel has four siblings; three sisters; Ann, Amy, and Erin, ana his only brother, Timothy. They grew up in a close-knit staunchly devout Catholic family that taught them that it was God first, family second, and business third.