Jim Caviezel Keeps the Faith in Hollywood

Vocal and passionate about his faith, actor Jim Caviezel regularly incorporates it into his career, including in the new film "Paul, Apostle of Christ."

Jim Caviezel

Jim Caviezel is not the typical Hollywood celebrity. Vocal and passionate about his faith, Caviezel regularly incorporates it into his career, most notably when he portrayed Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.” “I know God loves me,” he says. “But I want Him to know that I love Him.”

It's not surprising that his words would come to mind when watching the new film "Paul, Apostle of Christ." It follows the story of Paul and Luke, two more people with a strong desire to use their skills, positions and mediums to further the Gospel that Jesus preached.

Caviezel would be hesitant to accept any comparison to the early apostles and evangelists. As he read through various books in the New Testament, preparing for his role as Luke, he was struck by their passion and boldness. "The hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I said, 'I want to be like those guys; I want to be His apostle,'” he says. Caviezel discussed the movie and his faith with Connect.

You have expressed before that being a Christian in Hollywood is not easy. So how do you reconcile your faith and your profession?

It isn’t easy, because you get minimized, you get sidelined; that’s part of the persecution. But I don’t believe that the devil made music, radio, TV and this technology that we have. I believe it’s a gift from God. “The Passion of the Christ” brought millions and millions of souls to come back to God. That’s how powerful it is, and that’s the responsibility that we have. So don’t minimize God’s strength. He is powerful and He can reach out through these mediums and get guys—just like Luke and Paul—and change them.

Not a lot of people get to be in the role of Jesus and Luke. What’s the difference between playing both?

They both have their real difficulty. But with Jesus, there are pictures, paintings and images of him all over the world. People believe they know Him clearly with those images. Also, there’s quite a bit about Him in the Gospels. With Luke, all the clues I have are that he was a doctor and a Greek. There’s tons of filling in the blank.

How do you think this historical account of Luke and Paul is personally relevant to people today?

Like Luke and Paul, we all have a part in the world in bringing souls to Jesus. My part happens to be working as an actor. To non-believers, Luke is great because many are going to watch this and go “Wow, that’s me.” And the believers who aren’t living such good lives are going to see this and say, “Yea, I’m kind of like Saul right now. I need to be more like Paul.”

What kind of impact do you think Bible-centered movies like this are having on the shift in our culture?

People don’t make those movies anymore. If they do, they always change the Scripture because it’s never good enough. I say, “On my guard, on my duty, these movies are going to be made and they’re going to be made right or I won’t make them.” And we made it right on this one, just as we made it right on “The Passion of the Christ.” I think inevitably, it will bring people back to reading the scriptures again. The world is continually changing and moving in darker and darker areas, but our Lord stays firm. The apostles’ writings are going to last throughout all the dark times that are coming and they’ll inspire us to hold on to those truths.

How would you encourage believers to incorporate their faith into every day life?

Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song, one of my favorite songs ever, called “Magnificent Obsession.” If you’re a basketball player, and you play one time a week, it would certainly be very difficult to become a pro. When you talk to pros, they practice not once a day, but three times a day. They also read books and learn offenses and different philosophies of different coaches. They obsess about it. It has to be that.

A lot of times, we don’t even think about our Lord until Sunday. I think that if we— including myself—looked at our hearts, then the different things that we all struggle with could be removed quite quickly if we added a little bit more time. I’m talking five minutes in the morning, five minutes in the afternoon, five minutes in the evening. It’s great that we’re going to church on Sunday, but a magnificent obsession is just like anything else. Michael Jordan didn’t get where he’s at by just playing on Sundays.

What’s the main message you would want people to take away from this film?

That love is a greater motivator than fear. During one scene, I was watching as James Faulker [playing Paul] speaks to the Romans. Essentially, though, he’s speaking to the world that we live in right now. My heart was burning as he spoke and I could hear Paul’s words coming to life: “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” Luke and Paul had given everything, and yet, they were still called to the ultimate, which was laying down their lives for God, who had laid down His life for them. I think it will reinvigorate a lot of people who have forgotten this.