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‘Passion of the Christ’ actor Jim Caviezel shares why God works through his films

For someone who played the lead in the greatest story of all time, Jim Caviezel seems like a pretty humble guy.

The Catholic actor, who is slated to play Jesus again in a sequel to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” joined Glenn in the studio today to talk about what it’s like to be a believer in Hollywood and how he wants to continue to give his career over to God.

“It was always God through me that would make these films great,” Caviezel said. He added that his goal was always that “I don’t want them to see me; I want them only to see You [God].”

Caviezel is making headlines with another biblical role; he portrays the disciple Luke in his latest film, “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” which is coming to theaters this weekend.

On today’s show, he talked about the contrast between the value his faith gives to his life and the emptiness of Hollywood celebrity on its own.

“People will give up everything for a red carpet,” he said.

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: Jim Caviezel is in studio with us. A good man and a friend. We grew up, kind of together. I mean, we went to the same elementary school. And you were, what? Two years behind me, Jim?

JIM: I was -- I was in third grade when you were in eighth grade. But I saw you for a second in third grade.

GLENN: And you remember it.

JIM: I remembered you in the wide-legged corduroy pants.

GLENN: Yep. That was me.

JIM: Was it Robert Conine? Rose Krantz. Peter Janakey.

GLENN: Yeah. Oh, my gosh.

JIM: And we rode the bus -- the school bus together. I remember you -- I remember you jumping up and down, up on Peter Janakey's shoulders. I remember Sister Agnes Joseph coming to our class and said she just saw you debate the entire class. Michael Rosencrantz told me that that boy is a genius. And she was saying -- and Janakey was pretty genius too.

GLENN: Yeah, well, none of those stories were true. Yeah, none of those stories were true.

So how are you?

JIM: I'm good.

GLENN: Yeah. Now, you're in a new film called Paul: Apostle of Christ. I haven't seen it yet. When does it come out?

JIM: March 23rd.

GLENN: Last time I saw you, you had -- you were still reeling from, you know, the -- not temptation of Christ. But the --

JIM: Passion of Christ.

GLENN: Passion of Christ. And you were still reeling from that. And I think you are one of the bravest men I think I've ever met. One of the most loyal men to God that I've ever met.

And I think -- wrongfully persecuted for what you've -- what you've done. The standards that you've taken. You've been very careful and very true.

When you were in school, when we were there together, you made a promise to God. Can you talk about that?

JIM: I was given a gift. And I -- I think it's very difficult for God to give certain people gifts. Because once they get the opportunity, it starts out being, here, God, I'll give you all that. And it becomes, you know, nine for you, one for me, and then it eventually becomes nine for me, one for you.

So I just said that I would make the kind of films that would, you know, affect people's lives. Like, you know, It's a Wonderful Life. When I met Jimmy Stewart, I was a waiter for him. And I went and got him a drink. And I was working at a party. And they told me that I couldn't speak to any of the celebrities. And I saw that guy and I said, well, I could get fired for talking to him. So at the time, I had applied to the US Naval Academy. I applied three different times and didn't get in. And I had a shot at West Point. And I told him, you know, I know that you flew the liberators over Germany. And he was just shocked that I knew. Here I am 19 years old, 20 years old, and I knew so much about him.

GLENN: Uh-huh.

JIM: And I think that -- Clooney told me one time, George said that when they were at -- he was with Rosemary, his aunt, and they were at Stewart's house. And on the TV was his academy award, and Stewart said, you know, I wish I had done more.

And here's a guy that made arguably one of the greatest films ever made. I watch it every year. It's a Wonderful Life. I want to have that kind of affect on people. But it was always God through me that would make these films great.

GLENN: Is it true that you said, I want to play you?

JIM: No, I said, I don't want them to see me. I want them to only see you. And that became the difference. And to do that was on the cross, I felt the love that he had for me. But when I asked him to come closer than that, he said, you may not like what you're going to get. And I said, as long as they see you, that's all that matters. And what I felt was a broken heart because our Lord is not loved by most of our children. And, you know, I tell people, I know God loves you. And if you don't know that, then, you know, kind of live the life that makes people feel that. But those that say that -- that have accepted that, you know, just get up in the morning and tell Jesus that you love him. He needs to hear that too.

GLENN: You are -- you would have gotten along with Hollywood a long time ago. With the Jimmy Stewarts of the world. I think they were more like you.

JIM: Right.

GLENN: Now not so much. Now not so much. And yet you are consistently amazing in every role I have ever seen you in. You are just tremendous.

JIM: Glenn, I've this said before. Hollywood, at best -- you know, if that really is the world, at best, it can only like you. Because the love -- it does not come from man. It comes from God. So at best, Hollywood can like you. And I can prove it to you, when you go to the Academy Awards. Former winners are on the sideline. It's over the current winner. And you look at some of the films. And the substance that's coming out. And they're making all over that. People will give up everything for a red carpet. But the question you have to ask yourself is, do you want to be liked by many or loved by one?

GLENN: I have a friend, John Irwin, from the Irwin Brothers. And they just made a film. What was the name of it? Yeah. I Can Only Imagine.

It came out this weekend. It's supposed to make $2 million. It's a faith film. It's really good. It has Dennis Quaid in it. Supposed to make $2 million. It made $17 million. It's only in 1600 theaters. It's number three this weekend.

JIM: Yeah, that means the per screen average was more than the two films prior -- that are ahead of them. That's over $10,000 a screen.

GLENN: Yeah.

JIM: That's extraordinary.

GLENN: Yeah. And you're not reading about it anywhere.

JIM: No, you won't.

GLENN: Yeah, but since you were in Passion, things have changed. You don't need Hollywood as much as you did.

JIM: The system -- you know, the -- the truth is out there. And it's not going to go away. And, you know, the -- the --

GLENN: The Irwin brothers?

JIM: Yeah. He came up -- I don't know which one.

GLENN: John probably.

JIM: He did the Steve McQueen documentary. Did you see that? American Icon.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.

JIM: He handed it to me when I walked out. And I went home and watched it. And here, we can arguably say that Steve McQueen was one of the greats. Physical actor. A guy who was absolutely the king of cool. But what was cool about him, he was hot about something. He was an orphan kid essentially. And I watched this documentary, and it just moved me to tears. Even at the end, he was searching for something greater. And he said there was a recording of him that his wife had gave out. And he said he wished he had touched more people's lives from Jesus. Billy Graham was there at the end of his life.

And he -- he was looking for his Bible, as he was dying. And Billy Graham gave him his Bible, who was a great that just passed away.

STU: Yeah.

GLENN: And without Billy Graham, we would not have had the reaction from America. We needed his support, and he gave it to us on the Passion of the Christ.

GLENN: What do you think about the division between our faith sometimes? You know, between, you know, the Baptists and the Catholics and the Mormons and the Protestants and everything else. What do you -- how do we solve that and come together on bigger issues?

JIM: Well, it's certainly not going to be beating you over the head. I mean, if God wanted to, he certainly could beat us over the head.

GLENN: Yeah. Isn't he though?

JIM: What?

GLENN: Beating us over the head. I think he is starting to beat us over the head.

JIM: Well, it eventually can come to that. But right now -- I mean, there is a wrath and a justice that is coming if we don't essentially -- look, I really feel that the ideal way would be love that we would just naturally turn to him. And I got that at a young age.

But the -- we have an opportunity right now, to decide where we want to go. As far as, you know, our feeling, I do believe there is one truth. And we'll know that one day in heaven. If there were many truths, there would not be a truth. And there would be much divisions in heaven.

What there is probably the right way. But I look at Jesus and he did not beat people over the head with either turn or burn. Now, that is out there.

GLENN: Uh-huh.

JIM: But it's -- what I find is that you have the truth. Years ago, that would all -- it would be given to us, just truth. And essentially, that would become fire and brimstone. And now it's all grace. You know, all love and forgiveness and everything. But then that becomes sentimental hogwash. Our Lord is both truth and grace.

GLENN: Are you happy?

JIM: Yes. When I came in here, I was a little frustrated.

(laughter)

But generally, yes. Because I know that I'm -- you know, I -- I have the future forever with Jesus, you know, in heaven. And I tell people that. You know, I do believe it. And I do believe it's worth dying for. And I know I'm going to die someday. And I -- I tell people that because, you know, I tell people, yes, our Lord loves you. But I don't always feel that. It is hard. But, you know, come hell or high water, you do the right thing, no matter what.

You just try to keep doing it.

STU: Yeah. I want to talk to you a little bit about that. Because doing the right thing is really hard. And you're a guy who has actually walked that walk. You've really walked that walk.

JIM: You know Marcus Luttrell. That was the last event we were at. Marcus reached out to me because I put in a movie, The Count of Monte Cristo, "God Will Give Me Justice." And he wrote that on the cave wall.

GLENN: Yeah.

JIM: And he became close. And I was -- the last time I was with him, I was with him and Chris Kyle. And I never saw him again. Obviously, that night, we went out -- a great night. And he wanted to just talk about that. But how many soldiers that come up to me in the airports and, you know, Special Forces, guys just ask me about Jesus. They say, do you really believe in that? Because I heard you suffer. I heard you were struck by lightning. And had open heart surgery. That you went through horrible pains. Do you really believe in that stuff?

And why are they asking me that? And then eventually, they talk about, you know, I've had to take somebody's life, by my own hand.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah. And what that's like. And is there a place in heaven for me? You know, almost like daring God. It reminds me of Gary Sinise in Forrest Gump when he's up at the top of the tower. He says, all right. God. You and me. And I just love to -- I identify with them.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.

JIM: That there are people out there that will suffer whatever it takes because they feel a brotherhood. And I feel that brotherhood with our Lord. And I want to let them know that they're loved.

GLENN: Back with Jim Caviezel here in just a second. He's got a new movie out, called Paul: Apostle of Christ. It is in theaters Friday, the 23rd. That's this Friday. You can find out more about it at Paulmovie.com. Twitter handle @Paulmovie.

Jim Caviezel, when we return.

GLENN: Jim Caviezel. You might know him from many -- many movies that he has been in. Most famously, obviously, he played Jesus in Passion of the Christ. But also Person of Interest. The People's Choice Award. And -- and now in a new movie, called Paul: Apostle of Christ. And you play Luke.

JIM: I do.

GLENN: Tell me about it.

JIM: Well, the film is right at the end of Paul's life, like the last two weeks. And he's in the Mamertine Prison in Rome. And this is during the -- one of the biggest terror reigns of Christians, which was during Nero. And I basically get into the prison. And I try to bring his message of hope to the Christian communities that are barely alive in that area. And, of course, they're crucifying and burning them. Using them as light fixtures all over Rome. And I'm trying to give this message of hope. And he really doesn't have the message that they're looking for. They don't know what to do.

And so really what the film -- when I read it, I said, this is now -- this is just -- we're all playing characters in Scripture right now. You know, often people, when they look at the Bible, they say, well, it's a piece of history.

It's not the same as if you were to go back -- you know, we were just talking about Berlin, Germany.

And that's a history, you try to learn from history.

But this is something quite extraordinary, when you read Scripture, because it -- it goes -- it permeates your brain, into your heart. And bypasses it, and goes into that. And it's really -- and we're all playing a different character, you know. I got to play Jesus in the Passion. But some of us get to play Judas. And some play the Pharisees, and some are Herod. And that's playing out now.

GLENN: The Pharisees, the real problem there was the hypocrisy. And there are a lot of us, are Pharisees right now.

JIM: Yes. And there are Judases out there too.

GLENN: You've -- you've -- you've taken quite a hit your whole career. What gets you through -- what do you -- I mean, your low points -- you know, you've had -- you are a great actor. And because of what you believe, they -- you're not -- you're not asked to be in all of the great films.

JIM: Uh-huh.

GLENN: How do you get through that?

JIM: I get through it because I was in the greatest film there ever was.

You know, look, the -- I -- I almost never became an actor. I almost never did The Passion of the Christ. I almost never married my wife Kerri. I almost never adopted my three children. All three of them had -- two had tumors. One had the cancer, sarcoma.

And I thought, well, I'm not the kind of guy that can adopt. You know, I'm just not -- I'm too selfish. That would have been the worst mistake of my life, if I had not done those things. The path of Christ is hard.

It is the road less traveled. It is --

GLENN: Yeah.

JIM: It is. But it is one that is beyond -- anything I've ever experienced. And I know it's the way for me. I know -- yeah, sure, I've pouted and played the victim. But I realize that, yeah, it's not really going to get it done.

Victim is not a strong position.

GLENN: Jim Caviezel. The name of the movie is Paul: Apostle of Christ. It is in theaters this Friday. Don't miss it.

GLENN: Welcome to the program. We're glad you're here. Jim Caviezel is here. And Pat Gray has just joined us from the Pat Gray Radio Roundup or whatever it is --

PAT: That's exactly what it is. Pat Gray Radio Roundup.

GLENN: Whatever it's called, it happens after this program. Pat, Jim Caviezel. Jim, Pat.

PAT: Jim, we've met actually before.

GLENN: Yeah. I know. I know. I just wanted to make sure of that. I was being a gracious host here.

PAT: Yeah. That's nice. That's nice. Good to see you again.

JIM: Good to see you.

GLENN: So, Jim, have you been down to Waco? You know Chip and Joanna Gaines?

JIM: No, I don't.

GLENN: Do you know of them?

JIM: No, I don't.

GLENN: Oh, you're kidding me. They're great. Do you watch TV at all or do you --

JIM: I watch a little bit here and there. Obviously, just doing a lot of the scripts --

GLENN: Yeah. I know. I know.

But I was down at Waco.

PAT: This weekend?

GLENN: That place --

PAT: It's amazing.

GLENN: -- has totally transformed. These people are -- they're so good. And -- and people are flocking from all over the country.

PAT: And they've completely repositioned Waco, Texas. Because Waco was, what? It was Branch Davidian. It was wacko Waco. And now they're transformed it into this desirable place to go.

GLENN: Yeah. And it's really -- it's amazing. Because here they are. They're people pretty much like you that just kind of live their principles. And they're not ashamed of their faith. And they do this little show on HGTV. And it's turned into this monster. And I don't think people in the -- I don't think people in New York or Los Angeles even understand it. They think, well, it's a husband and a wife. No, it's their principles and their values that really set them apart. And they just -- there was probably $100,000 down there.

PAT: I bet. It's always jam-packed.

GLENN: It's crazy. Yeah. And they're not even there. It's crazy what they've done.

PAT: Yeah, yeah, but everybody there is hoping for a glimpse. You know, maybe this is the day they'll be running out.

GLENN: No.

PAT: I don't know. Straighten the shelves.

(laughter)

GLENN: Yeah. Straighten things up.

So Jim is here because he's in a new movie, Paul: Apostle of Christ. And, Jim, I love the story of Paul. But the thing that sticks in my mind, in Paul's life -- well, there's many things. But -- but when he's on the wrong side, you know, the -- the death of James, he's -- he's mentioned just -- give me your coat. Kill him.

JIM: Oh, Stephen.

GLENN: Or, Stephen. Yeah, thank you.

He's standing there, and he's listening to Stephen. And he's helping riling up the crowd. And he doesn't do any of the beating himself. Beating to death. He just says, give me your cloak. I'll hold it for you.

JIM: Yeah, essentially. Probably taken their coats and handed them stones, and have at him.

GLENN: Yeah. And just -- just -- I mean, it's real evil manipulation.

JIM: Yeah.

GLENN: Where he was the guy kind of behind the crowd.

JIM: Yeah. I think that when Stephen called out, you know, I see the Son of Man, repeating the words of Jesus, I see the son of man sitting at the right hand of the father, coming in the clouds of heaven, that reflection in his eyes, he probably saw our Lord right there and probably was the beginning of the end of Saul.

GLENN: How difficult would it be for you if you knew that Saul was coming your way and -- and you were told, you know, Jim, I need you to go give him a blessing real quick?

How difficult would that have been for you? I think that would have been terrifying.

JIM: Well, of course. But I look at just some of the videos and pictures that I saw from what ISIS did to Christians last year, during Good Friday, where they literally executed them by crucifixion.

And I -- I think the modern day Christians really have to understand that, you know, we're all going to die some day. And, you know, being in heaven, I want to -- I'd rather be known as someone who did something for Jesus than spending eternity without doing much for him.

GLENN: You spend any time in the Middle East recently?

JIM: Yes. I had to shoot a movie out there. The Stoning of Soraya. And that really exposed Sharia law. And it -- it is just extraordinary what happens to women there.

GLENN: Yeah.

JIM: And I played a guy named Fredom Seronjom (phonetic), who was a guy who was just out there to write a story about the ayatollah takeover of the Shah. It was a peaceful movement and what not. And out of this comes this woman's story of being stoned to death. And the stonings still take place. So it was -- I don't feel like we have a lot of help from many of the groups here, you know, many of the women's groups that weren't there to help --

GLENN: I will tell you that it's been encouraging to us. We've raised probably $30 million now.

JIM: Yeah.

GLENN: To get some of these Christians out. We've taken 7,000 out of the Middle East. We're rescuing slaves --

JIM: That's great. Yeah.

GLENN: And it's remarkable that there is a -- while it's not talked about, there is this -- this, I don't know, underground, would you call it, Pat? Kind of this -- something that's not on the surface. And nobody is talking about. But there is real concern for that. And real -- the people really helping.

JIM: Good. A lot of people are helping. But they're doing it in -- in the -- in quiet ways, working in -- like you say, the underground.

GLENN: Yeah. The Christians are unlike everything I've ever met.

JIM: Chaldeans, Syrians, extraordinary.

GLENN: They're not like anything I've ever met.

PAT: They're committed. They have to be. And they are.

GLENN: You know what, I read a quote this weekend. I had written down a long time ago. And I had forgotten all about it. They tend church. Not attend church. You know, they're tending every day. They are there. They know what it is. It's not just a place they go to every Sunday.

JIM: Yeah.

PAT: And they take it seriously because it doesn't come easy for them, like it does us. You know, when you have to fight for something and put your life on the line for something, I think that changes you inside a little bit. It makes you more -- it makes you more committed. And they definitely are.

GLENN: Yeah. And we get so fat and lazy over here on everything. That we don't know -- it has no value. It has no value.

JIM: There's a great line in the film where Paul says, to live is Christ, to die is gain. You know, I'm sure many of those Chaldeans, Syrian Christians, and Coptics, believe in the same way.

GLENN: Yeah.

PAT: It true on another topic that there's a passion of the Christ sequel coming?

JIM: Yes.

PAT: And you're signed on for that?

JIM: Yes.

GLENN: As Jesus?

JIM: Yes.

GLENN: Wow.

PAT: Well, he'd have to be.

GLENN: I don't know. It's the next day --

PAT: Now I've turned into John. So surprise!

GLENN: I mean, you don't really look that different. You work out and all that crap all the time?

JIM: Yeah.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah. It's overrated.

JIM: Fortunately -- well, I have to because so much of the work that you do involves stunt. So if you don't keep that up, you're going --

GLENN: Especially on that. I mean, on that one -- that one was pretty serious. Struck by lightning.

JIM: Yeah. Last shot of the movie. Very last shot.

GLENN: What went through your -- I mean, besides Jews. What went through on that?

JIM: I was -- I was scared. You know, just -- but it wasn't my time. You know, it was -- I had physical problems, you know, with electrical heart and everything like that after that. And I was on a lot of medication. So in 2009, I had my first heart surgery. And then 2014 --

PAT: Wow.

JIM: -- was open heart. They in the clinic saved my life.

PAT: And it was because of that?

JIM: Yes. It was a combination of the lightning bolt and then -- and then the -- the hypothermia and then the -- the -- the pneumonia.

GLENN: Have you thought about suing Mel? Just taking him for everything he's worth?

PAT: He's worth a few bucks now. You might want to think about that.

GLENN: He's a really nice guy. You know, I don't know him at all. In meeting him, he's really quite brilliant.

JIM: Oh, yeah. He's a freak show.

GLENN: Going about 1,000 miles an hour.

JIM: He would be the Michael Jordan in my business of what he can do. You know, he has the -- it's extraordinary with him because, you know -- you've seen him in Hamlet. He can do Hamlet. He can do his range. His humor.

But just -- you know, even looking at Lethal Weapon, when Steve McEveety produced the Passion, produced the lethal weapon with Mel. You know, the opening of the movie, he takes a gun. He's going to put it in his mouth. And he uses a bullet. And he's going to commit suicide. And just how he layers and takes the -- if you have an onion, just peels it away. And later on, he's up on the top of the building. This guy is going to commit suicide. He's smoking his cigarette up on the building. He said, come on, man, it's not good to commit suicide. It's really bad for your health. You know, and you're laughing your head off. Because you know this guy just takes his -- but how he sets it up. And he gets you focused over here. He's smoking a cigarette. Here, you want a drag. And then he throws up another ball up in the air. And while you're looking over here, sleight of hand, he puts the cuffs on the guy's wrist. And then he's like, oh, you jerk, I'm going to jump. He goes, do you really want to do it? Do it? You know, I want to do it. So you go, no. The movie is over. Jumps off. And, of course, they don't show it. But then they jump on that big old bag. This guy is nuts.

Mel goes, oh, that's fun. Let's do it again. But that's just -- I mean, that's flatout, straight-up Gibson.

GLENN: When do you go into production for this?

JIM: I heard -- when I was speaking to him last time, he says, I'd like to be going. And he gave me a certain date, by that particular time.

GLENN: You're not going to give it to us. I'm not looking for a scoop.

JIM: Yeah. But, no, he just said, I would like to be going at this particular time. This is the one, two, three -- he's on the fourth draft of the shift. So I started talking to him about this five years ago. Nothing was mentioned. Then last year, both Randall Wallace -- they wrote Braveheart together. And just to show you how hard it is, that blueprint is everything. And now he's on the fourth draft of this thing. So he finally broke it. That's why -- I had never said anything about it. But he finally figured everything out. It's kind of like Thomas Edison gets to the end. You go through the alphabet. So by way of analogy, he starts at A and gets to Z. And then he goes, oh, my gosh. I figured it out. But now he has to go back to A and start all over again. But he finally figured it out.

GLENN: Yeah. Jim, good to see you. Thank you so much. The movie opens up this Friday. It is Paul: Apostle of Christ, starring Jim Caviezel. You don't want to miss it. It's opening in theaters everywhere. It's Paulmovie.com.

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