The actor who played Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ says the role cost him his career, because Hollywood has snubbed him ever since the film was released.
Jim Caviezel had earned strong reviews for his work in Frequency and The Thin Red Line before taking on the Passion role. He says Gibson himself warned him not to take the part, but that he'd done so because "we all have to embrace our crosses."
Caviezel, who notes that it was no coincidence that he was called to play Jesus in his 33rd year, says that the much-criticized film permanently damaged his acting prospects. I think this is a handy excuse for him to make sense of his struggling career (while also hopefully drawing some comparisons between himself and the real Jesus), but there's just one problem. It's total bullshit.
For one thing, would you have any idea who this guy was if someone didn't add "star of Passion of the Christ" next to his name? I'm guessing not. Unless he's going to appear in every movie wearing a crown of thorns, filmmakers know that moviegoers won't typically recognize him.
For another thing, since when did controversy ruin someone's film career? Critics be damned, the real bottom line is that Passion of the Christ was one of the most successful R-rated films ever, grossing $370 million in US box-office sales. It was the highest-grossing independent film of all time. Can you think of a few popular/controversial movies that virtually rocket-launched an actor's career? Like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange? Or Chloë Sevigny in the wildly uncomfortable Kids? Or hey, how about Willem Dafoe in The Last Temptation of Christ, for that matter?
For a third thing, Jim Caviezel seems kind of ... extreme, in his religious beliefs. He once said about his Christ role,
I felt like a great presence came within me at times when we were filming. This prayer that came from me was, "I don't want people to see me. I just want them to see Jesus. And through that conversions will happen." That's what I wanted more than anything, that people would have a visceral effect to finally make a decision whether to follow Him or not.
While he was recently describing how the movie tanked his career, he was at an Orlando First Baptist church selling an audio production of the Bible that he's produced. Where the pastor described Caviezel as "more passionate about God than anyone he's ever met." (Coming from a pastor, this seems meaningful.)
Caviezel reminded the audience that Mel Gibson needs prayers, not judgment, and described how the awards that actors get on Earth are meaningless to him because his reward will come from Heaven.
I'm just saying, maybe it's not entirely unsurprising the guy isn't getting cast in the next Michael Bay production. Not that there's anything wrong with having a strong sense of faith! Just … you know, things don't always happen for Murky Conspiratorial Anti-Jesus Reasons.
Do you think Passion of the Christ made Hollywood shun Jim Caviezel?
Image via IMDB