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I Love Him with a Greater Love than Ever

James Caviezel was born in 1968 to a devout Catholic family in Mount Vernon, Washington, USA. His first break as an actor was playing a young private in The Thin Red Line (1998).

He also scored successes in such well-known productions as Pay it Forward (2000) and The Count of Monte Cristo (2002). Today, he is known and universally recognized for his role as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. He accepted it with humility, convinced that there was a mission in it. In his numerous interviews, he talks about his film experiences, and speaks openly about his faith. The following are extracts from some of these interviews.

The Holy Spirit leads everyone in a different way. You have to obey Him. I didn’t have the slightest idea what I could achieve. Many times, when it came to choosing a role that could assure me of success, I felt tested spiritually. But I knew what my faith was, and I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t betray myself because that was who I was. This was my soul. Here, in Hollywood, there are many Catholics who don’t believe that faith can take them where they want to be. I discovered that Our Lady would take me much further than I could even imagine. I thought: “Wow, this is great! I’m in The Thin Red Line! Hurray! Working with one of the world’s top directors! God couldn’t offer me anything better.” Then God comes to me and says, Would you like to play my Son?

On the one hand, I felt honored, but then I wondered: “Why did you choose me, Lord, me, such a sinner.” But since I was chosen, I tried to focus on being grateful for this fact….I believe I was meant to be in this movie, even if it was to be my last.…I told Mel, who was afraid of where this decision might lead: Each of us is called to carry his cross. If you don’t accept it, it will weigh you down and crush you. In the end, my answer was, “Yes, I’ll play Jesus.” My one motivation in playing in this movie was to see the world convert….It’s not me I want people to see on the screen. I want them to see Jesus Christ….I love Him with a greater love than ever. 

Before we started filming, I told Mel: We have to go to Mass every day. Before I take up this cross, before we go on the set, I want to have the Holy Eucharist in me….We have to watch our language. I don’t want to curse or get mad when I play Christ.

This is a movie about love. About sacrifice. About forgiveness and hope.

“It must have been an uncomfortable role to play,” suggests the reporter]. Maybe if we had made the film in a studio, and not under natural conditions, on the side of a mountain, I wouldn’t have suffered as much. But if I hadn’t suffered what I had to suffer, I would never have been able to play the crucifixion scene as well as I did. There were times when it felt exactly as if I was about to die on the cross.

In some way suffering is always present in life….People who tough it out, who suffer the most, achieve the most. Sometimes the Devil tells you: Hey, you’re working too hard — and he begins to butter you up, saying how talented you are, and how much you can do on your own. Soon you stop serving God, and then your work becomes totally meaningless. I am convinced my whole career — everything — is a gift from God.

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