February 28, 2018 : By Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Before he became popular for his roles in “Frequency” and “The Count of Monte Cristo,” actor Jim Caviezel made the decision to be firm in his faith throughout his career. During Liberty University Convocation on Wednesday, Caviezel encouraged students to do the same with the platforms they have been called to.
Caviezel, who is most notably known for his role as Jesus in Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, “The Passion of the Christ,” sat down with Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser to help promote the new movie, “Paul, Apostle of Christ.” Caviezel plays Luke, who is beginning to document the ministries of Paul and Jesus. The film opens in theaters on March 23.
During Convocation, Caviezel described the moment when God called him to be an actor at age 19.
“I felt this love that I had never felt before, this peace I never felt before,” Caviezel said. “I heard God say, ‘I’d like you be an actor.’ … I did not know where to go. I had a call to be an actor, but it was going to take Him to teach me and bring me to the right teachers, the right films to do.”
After being cast in “The Thin Red Line,” he received a call from his agent telling him that Mel Gibson wanted to meet.
“(Mel told me), ‘If you take this part (of Jesus), you may not work in this town again,’” Caviezel said. “I felt fear come into me. That’s one thing about our faith. When that (fear) happens, that’s not Jesus.”
Despite the uncertainties of where his career would go after playing Jesus in such an influential film, he said he ignored the fear and accepted the role — then Caviezel and Gibson had a realization.
“I said, ‘My initials are J.C., and I’m 33 years old,’” Caviezel recounted. “(Mel said), ‘You’re freaking me out,’ and he hung up the phone.”
During the filming, Caviezel said the crew and cast faced dire circumstances, such as Caviezel suffering major injuries, that nearly halted filming, but he held strong to his faith.
He told students that each of them has an important part to play in advancing God’s kingdom, just as the men and women in biblical times had.
“God is going to put you in different places in your life,” Caviezel said. “The world is going to look to you for hope, and you’re going to suffer for it.”
When you suffer for your faith, it can stop you from growing, Caviezel said, but God will never abandon us.
Caviezel said one of the biggest reasons he took the role of Luke was because of the parallels between the persecuted church in the days of Paul and the Christians all over the world today who are being killed for their faith. He urged students to not tolerate evil and continue to stand for their faith.
“You’re going to be given a power and an opportunity. You’re here for a reason,” Caviezel said. “Jesus said, ‘If they persecute you, know they persecuted me first.’”
Freshman Kendra Dietrich said she was excited to hear that Caviezel had been invited to speak, especially since she is a fan of the actor’s work.
“The fact that he is a big star and he is using his platform to talk about his faith is really symbolic,” she said. “Nowadays, you see celebrities that don’t have faith, or they do but don’t talk about it. I’m glad to see there are people like Caviezel who want to talk about it.”
After Caviezel spoke, Nasser sat down with a panel to talk about the elements of the movie and how it could be used as a witnessing tool to bring others to Christ. The panel consisted of Ed Hindson, dean of the Rawlings School of Divinity; Michael Easley, former president of the Moody Bible Institute; and Monica Brennan, School of Divinity associate professor.