Jim Caviezel talks Mel Gibson, being 'rejected in my own industry.' Are you ready to welcome him back?


Image Credit: Philippe Antonello

It's been seven years since Jim Caviezel starred in The Passion of the Christ. Yet it seems he's still feeling the sting of the movie's effect on some moviegoers and industry insiders. Speaking to the First Baptist Church of Orlando in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, the actor discussed being "rejected in my own industry" after playing Jesus in the controversial film directed by Mel Gibson, which many criticized as anti-Semitic. "[Mel]

said, ‘You’ll never work in this town again,'” Caviezel told the audience. “I told him, ‘We all have to embrace our crosses.'” Caviezel, who also told the audience that it was appropriate that “in my 33rd year, I was called to play Jesus,” said the starring role affected his career negatively, but, “We have to give up our names, our reputations, our lives to speak the truth.” (The actor didn’t just address his own controversy — Caviezel touched on Gibson’s troubles post-Passion, which included a 2006 DUI arrest made famous for the actor’s anti-Semitic tirade. “Mel Gibson, he’s a horrible sinner, isn’t he?” Caviezel told the audience. “Mel Gibson doesn’t need your judgment, he needs your prayers.”)

Indeed, Caviezel’s career after Passion did not quite surge the way you’d expect an actor who starred in a $370 million movie’s would. Since headlining the 2004 movie, the actor’s most notable credit has been 2009’s The Prisoner miniseries. Sadly, even that did not quite live up to its potential and was merely overshadowed by its British predecessor. But it’s hard to forget the role that first put us in Caviezel’s corner before Passion complicated matters: Dennis Quaid’s son in Frequency. Looking back on the 2000 film — which you can’t help but love, no matter how corny — it’s easy to wonder whether or not Passion dissenters are ready to welcome Caviezel back. Whatever intention Gibson had creating the torture-laced film, it’s undeniable that Caviezel is a good actor, and one that probably be given more comeback opportunities than, say, the man with the Beaver himself, Gibson.

What say you, PopWatchers?

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWardEW

Comments (260 total) Add your comment
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  • Paul

    That’s not fair what happened to him. He starred in the movie. He didnt give interviews saying negative, nasty stuff like Gibson

    • Mon

      Yep, and he’s REALLY good. Give him a role already.

      • wow i forgot abour Frequency

        i loved that movie

      • Becky Anne Leaman

        He was the hottest Jesus I’ve ever seen. I write romantic ‘Passion of the Christ’ fan-fiction and I think of him when I write my scenes. He really should do more work.

      • noelbelle

        @Becky: What’s “romantic ‘Passion of the Christ’ fan-fiction”? (Seriously)

      • Tom

        I’m honestly under the impression now that this movie is really the cause for all of Mel’s trouble and the actors associated with making it. It’s sad. Someone didn’t like the story, or the amount of attention it got, or money it made. Maybe a combination of all those things. If it had been made by some unknown director, and never went mainstream, nobody would have cared. It’s obviously more about religion itself than someone’s opinions about religion or even cinema. What happened to stick and stones, and all that?

      • Todd

        No, Tom, I’m pretty sure the cause of Mel Gibson’s trouble is Mel Gibson, not a movie he made about Jesus. If anything, The Passion of the Christ has gained him more goodwill from people who would normally be less tolerant of his actions.

      • besimon

        Have always loved Jim Caviezel, even though I hated and, actually, fell asleep during PASSION. I would love to see Jim in any thing. He’s a wonderful actor to watch.

      • Michael

        No Todd, you are actually the one who is completely off. Mel was attacked for his making of ‘The Passion’, and more over for the extreme popularity that came from it. If you’ve not yet allowed yourself to open your eyes to the obvious facts of this matter, than you are likely hiding from holywood made demons that you dare not admit control a great many of your thoughts.

      • Demigod

        This dude suckled on the teat of Gibson’s anti-semetic tripe and he got plenty of fame out of it. Caveziel didn’t care that he was linked to a polarizing figure because at the time it was rocketing him to stardom. Caviezel only stopped kissing Gibson’s but when Gibson flamed out. I’m sorry no one wants to hire him, but he’s like Balki or Urkel; played out.

      • dee dee1

        Jim Caveziel is not only a great actor but a very good man. It’s sad that ignorance is keeping him from getting more film offers. His religious beliefs are his business. Hollywood looks past Tom Cruise’s beliefs and continue to give him movie roles, why not Jim? He was great in Count of Monte Cristo, Angel Eyes, Frequency etc. What a shame Hollywood is overlooking him.

    • Brett

      It’s not that he’s getting backlash from what Mel Gibson said, it’s that he starred in a movie that many people viewed as anti-Semitic.

      • katie

        I don’t even think it was the alleged anti-Semitic aspect of The Passion, but the overt Christianity of the movie. I don’t think it even has anything to do with Gibson. I’m not sure it’s even that different from any iconic role for an actor, where they’re then typecast and always seen as that particular role…either way, Jim’s a great actor and deserves to get more work if he wants it.

      • Di

        Hollywood-the most intolerant town in the world if you happen to be a practicing Christian

      • Lara

        I agree, Di. Hollywood is extremely intolerent worthless hypocrites.

      • Jeanne

        Funny, Martin Sheen has had a long, fruitful career. The Wahlberg brothers are doing pretty good too.

        Or are you the type of “Christian” who thinks Catholics don’t count?

      • Dorimifah Solatido

        This movie was anti-Semetic torture porn, as bad as any of the SAW movies, or Seven. If you think this movie defines Christianity, you have a seriously defective view of your own religion. This was a passion play, didn’t even try to pass itself itself off as anything else. And the only purpose of the passion plays was to incite hatred of the Jews for what they supposedly had done to Jesus through Roman proxies.

        This actor doesn’t deserve blame for it, but he made his choice to do it & has to live with it. Developing his own “Christ complex” over it is his own cross to bear.

      • Jono

        I don’t think the film was anti-Semitic. Compassionate Jews in the Sanhedrin are shown decrying the actions of those Jews who were corrupt. A Jewish woman offers Christ water and a cloth for his face. Anti-Semitism is deplored when a Roman soldier disparagingly calls Simon “Jew!” after Simon shows great integrity and courage.

      • Jane

        I always thought that was a weird argument. How can the movie be anti-Semitic when Jesus was the protagonist. Was he not Jewish? Was he not the King of the Jews? The movie represents the story of Jesus, and he was a radical rabbi. He was targeted not by the Jews, but by religious people who had no interest in faith, but in protecting their careers and their institution. Jesus was a threat to the establishment, not to the Jewish people who he fed, healed and befriended. So again I ask, how is that anti-Semitic. If anything, it’s anti-establishment.

      • Jane

        Dorimifah, uggh. Don’t be a cliche. People always say the movie went too far and call it torture porn. If you knew what crucificions were really like, you’d see that the movie actually pulled back from the torture. While watching the movie I kept thinking that after being lashed and ripped by a cat o’nine tails (a multi-pronged leather whip with glass and rock embedded in it that when pulled back would rip skin off), we should be seeing bone and sinew. In short, Jesus would not look human. If anything, the movie didn’t go far enough if you want to talk about being historically accurate. And I’m sorry, comparing it to Saw and Se7en is ridiculous. In Saw you have people cutting off their own limbs, digging into corpses for keys and pulling their arms through blades in an attempt to survive. In Se7en you have people putrifying et al. Those movies are about people being unwillingly tortured. The Passion is about a man who willingly accepted torture for what he believed (whether you believe the Bible or not) would save people’s souls. It was about self-sacrifice for the sake of others. There’s a difference.

      • Athena1

        Maybe Jim’s career was hurt because of backlash, but maybe the “Superman Effect” (also known as the “Harry Potter Effect”) was a bigger factor. When you portray an icon — especially in such a convincing and transcendant way– people (especially narrow-minded, gun-shy, industry folk) have a hard time seeing you as someone else. What is the next role that you could offer to the man that millions and millions of people all over the world associate so strongly with Jesus? And yet, surely producers/directors/casting directors should realize that we would come out in droves to see this actor again. He is unique.

      • Demigod

        Hollywood produced The Nativity Story, films on Joan of Arc, the Crusades, Bells of St. Mary, Mary Mother of Jesus and many, many other Christian films. Passion was viewed as hate propaganda by a self-confessed bigot and anti-semite who also happens to be a drunk and crackhead.

    • Laurien

      I agree with you Brett. Why are you (Kate) asking us if we’re ready to forgive Jim? He didn’t do anything wrong.

      • katie

        Yeah, I don’t like how it says The Passion’s effect on “moviegoers”…it seems clear that Caviezel is shunned by the bigwigs, not the average moviegoer.

      • Maggie D

        He’s not being shunned. Look at IMDB. He’s done a lot of movies since Passion of the Christ. He’s just upset that he’s not a huge superstar.

      • @Maggie D

        He never said he hasn’t done any movies since then. He just doesn’t do movies in Hollywood. How many of the movies listed have you actually heard of? Most of those movies are independent films are they weren’t shot in Hollywood.

    • joblo

      Frequency is a GREAT little film! Caviezel was fantastic in it.

      • Jessica

        Frequency is a great movie, a total tear-jerker, especially if you have lost a parent. I recommend it. I’m sorry Caviezel isn’t getting the work he deserves.

      • Jono

        Also great: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. He was terrific in that.

    • Le Japanese HIROSHI


      – –

      Thanks for a good read.

      – –

      Two months ago I watched K. Reynolds-directed Le Comte de Monte-Cristo on cable and naturally started wondering where Caviezel’s been. . .

      – –

      I’m Buddhist [not a really good one, especially by the American religious standards or even Newton’s character’s Buddhism-intrigued one in Crash], so the anti-Semitism accusation over the Gibson phenomenon which, according to the article, seems to have rubbed off on the Christ star as well is irrelevant regardless.

      – –

      That being said, if this is true — Jewish people in THE industry probably wouldn’t admit it; but they all, including Caviezel, could feel it out if it’s not true – then I think it’s unfair. As far as I’m concerned, Caviezel simply gave performances in it. . .

    • Cygnus

      Pretty much anyone attached to the picture was black-balled by Hollywood, because Gibson totally did an end-run on the Jews that run Hollywood. I’m pretty sure Gibson has some animosity towards the Hollywood Jews, but probably because they’ve ran him through the ringer over the years. He wanted to play by his own rules, and they wanted to destroy him for it. This is a lot of why you see New York film-makers that don’t want to touch Hollywood.

      • Marianne

        Did you mean ‘they’ve RUN him through the ringer”? And by the way, you are way off and obviously extremely anti-Semitic.

      • Emma

        Geez, isn’t there any way to put an end to this conspiracy garbage already? Jews don’t run Hollywood. Money runs Hollywood and every other industry in America. It’s no big secret that we live in a CAPITALIST country.

      • Liberte

        Emma, you are either naive or hasbara.

      • RL

        I don’t know about him, but aren’t Semites the Palestinians? Emma, Palestinians haven’t blacklisted Gibson, only a few Hollyweird tyrants have. Now, if you wish to talk about anti-Khazar…maybe we have a starting point for a discussion.

    • Mark

      Has anyone considered the possibility he’s not getting work for being a bad actor who gave a bad performance in a horrible movie (keep your anti-Semitic “He must be a Jew” comments to yourself because first I’m an atheist and two I hate the movie because I think it was disrespectful turning Jesus into a Friday the 13th character victim)? Why does there always have to be some sinister conspiracy when the obvious is the most logical answer? He was a nobody before the movie and he’s a nobody now. What’s the big deal?

      • Maggie D

        He’s done a number of movies after Passion of the Christ, but they all bombed. If you star in a string of bombs then you aren’t to be on the “A-list” in Hollywood.

      • Chiara

        He is a good actor and a good man. Why do people love evil? We’re always given updates on Kim Kardashian & Paris Hilton,all they did were sextapes,but hollywood rewards them. Jim is a talented man who stood by his beliefs and gets shunned. Sad

    • Jane

      You can tell he’s the real deal and has genuine faith. He’s very honest, not letting Mel Gibson off the hook but not condemning him either. That is a good man. He needs to work some more, if for nothing else than “Frequency.” I still get chills when he’s interrogating that guy and shows him a photo of his mom, “Does she mean anything to you? (Yelling) She means something to me!” Then he looked up at his partner to let him know that his rage is calculated. Don’t know if that came from the director or from Caviezel, but it was incredibly intuitive. Hollywood, give this guy a job!

    • Maggie D

      He is working, but is picking crappy roles. He’s also known as somewhat difficult to work with. He doesn’t like to do love scenes because he thinks it’s disrespectful to his wife.

    • mags

      Caviezel gave crazy interviews talking about how he had a lot in common with Jesus. He talked about how he was meant to play Jesus because they were so much alike. As a Catholic just like Caviezel, I found his comments comparing himself to Jesus to be disrespectful. Maybe if he didn’t think so highly of himself it might be easier to get a job.

  • Louise

    I love Jim Caviezel… I hope to see him in more movies!

    • Strepsi

      If you like B Action movies, as I do, check out Caviezel in 2008’s “OUTLANDER” — about an alien hunting an alien in a VIking settlement — it’s surprisingly good. Beowulf + Eaters of the Dead + Predator = Outlander

      • Jessica

        That was actually a pretty entertaining movie.

      • noelbelle

        Ugh, I recorded that movie on my DVR, just cuz I loved the insane premise of it, but I deleted it because I didn’t think I’d ever get around to watching it. Now I kinda wish I hadn’t.

      • Cygnus

        Yeah, Outlander isnt a half bad movie. I was entertained.

      • denver1

        He was also in some movie with… Ashley Judd (?) and he was good in that. Loved him in Frequency and Count of Monte Cristo also. Never saw TPoTC. I’d be interested in the premise, but it sounds way too violent for me.

        Saw “Outlander” was on and he was in it, so I started watching it. Oh man, it was BAD. Bad bad bad. I think calling it a B movie is overrating it.

  • lefty

    This comments seem very…strange.

    • Mon

      Can you expand on that?

      • lefty

        He sounds almost brainwashed or something.

      • Mon

        I don’t see that. His comments seem well thought out and he’s just being honest. Plus he said Gibson warned him of possible exile from H-wood. Which did happen, he’s not just telling stories.

    • Rowan

      I agree. Like he is in some cult and has no personality.

      I thought Christians were republicans who are OBSESSED with freedom of the person?

      This guy may as well be a socialist or fascist tool in some group.

      Non, nod, nod.

  • Heather

    He deserves a comeback more than Mel Gibson does!

  • james

    I didn’t realize that it would impact him negatively.

  • Amber

    I had no idea Caviezel was so devout, but more power to him. I really enjoyed his performance in Unknown. His film career shouldn’t have suffered just because he played Jesus. He’s very talented.

  • andrea d

    Anthony Hopkins, Denzel Washington, and Charlize Theron are just three actors who have been awarded Oscars for playing deplorable characters. Jim Caviezel gets “punished” for playing Jesus? Seriously? There are more idiots in this world than I thought!

    • Jen

      I don’t think he was punished for playing Jesus, he was punished for being associated with Mel Gibson the anti-Semite … if you recall, it was around the time of Passion of the Christ that Mel started showing his wacko side.

      • Brett

        He was punished for being in a movie shot entirely in Aramaic that emphasized the anti-Semitic aspects of the Passion.

      • outside agitator

        I’m not a Bible thumper but I am familiar with what it says. The Jews(esp The Pharisees) gave Jesus over to the Romans and called for his execution. an accurate portrayal of the gospels would have to include those details which are major parts of Jesus’ death. how can truth be “anti-Semitic”? (in that that’s what the gospels clearly say) no more than the Ten Commandments is an anti-Egyptian movie for its depiction of Exodus. should The Passion of the Christ have portrayed Navajos calling for Jesus’ death? or the Ten Commandments portrayed Aztecs as enslaving the Jews? truth isn’t politically correct.

      • Applescruff

        @outside. My understanding of the gospels is that the depictions became more extreme as they were written further from the actual time Jesus lived. Judas, for example, becomes much more sinister as the gospels progress. This is true of the depiction of the Pharisees as well. From what I remember, Gibson made a choice to portray the most extreme parts of the gospels.

      • Amy

        Thank you outside agitator. Those are my thoughts exactly.

      • Carrie

        Despite Mel’s comments, he is not an anti-Semite. Your words aren’t worth much, Mel has never ever said he is an anti-Semite, and has many Jewish friends. Thanks.

      • Dr. Linus

        Wait, didn’t he get caught shouting anti-Semite slurs when he was drunk a few years ago? What are you talking about Carrie? That’s like saying David Duke isn’t a racist.

      • Celeste

        outside agitator you are completely correct that the truth isn’t politically correct and isn’t it sad that we can’t be honest about Biblical history without worry. Accepting our humanity, our weaknesses, our sin is the what cost Christ His life. The message is not blame “the Jews” or “the Romans” or any “One” else – He died because all of us are sinful and needed that debt to be paid. The truth is we ALL are responsible for His crucifiction.

      • Maggie D

        Jim Caviezel isn’t being “punished” for anything. If you look at IMDB, he’s worked quite a bit since “Passion of the Christ”. He picked some horrible movies to do, and had several bombs in a row.

      • Celeste

        sorry – crucifixion

  • ET

    Wasn’t he in Angel Eyes with Jennifer Lopez too?

    • katie

      Yep, and the Count of Monte Cristo.

    • Mr Spock

      The Frequency and Count of Monte Cristo are two of my favorite movies. I even watched the Prisoner. Hope he gets more movies or TV.

  • Jimmy

    Most of the studios in hollywood are run by people of Jewish faith. Cavizel publicly spoke about how the film tells the truth of what happened to Christ. Whether the statement is anti semitic or not, the fact that he was not more diplomatic or neutral on the matter cost him some high profile jobs with his employers.

    • Jen

      The thing that’s alwasy struck me as strange about that… is that Jesus was Jewish. His family was Jewish. And his closest friends were Jewish – including the one who never abandoned him during his crucifixtion. The Romans were just as involved in Jesus’ death as anyone else.
      The point of the whole thing is that humanity, as a whole, was responsible. Plus, Jesus *willingly* died to pay for all the bad things humanity has done/will do.

      So, I don’t quite understand ANYONE who thinks that Jesus’ death is somehow a cause or excuse to be anti-semitic?? It’s not!

      • DFSF

        It’s exactly this sort of bible-thumping arrogance that causes Jews to continue to be persecuted to this day.

      • SaraS

        I agree Jen.

      • kate

        totally agree with you, jen.

      • @DFSF

        Yet you find the fact that the Jews claim they are the Chosen People not arrogant? Talking about a double-standard…

      • Nat

        ‘Chosen People’ is an oft-misunderstood term. I took weeks of classes analysing the concept in scripture, and it’s not one that should be taken at face value. All I can really say in a comment box to help you understand and hopefully dissuade you from having prejudices against Jews is this: saying you’re ‘chosen’ doesn’t mean you’re better than anyone else; it just means you have certain responsibilities – ones that others are allowed and encouraged to take on just as much as you. As a side note, I’d say it’s far more arrogant when other religions claim you’re going to hell if you don’t follow their beliefs, but that’s just my personal opinion.

      • Applescruff

        Well put, Nat.

      • Amy

        I agree with you too, Jen.

      • sarah

        Thank you Nat – very well said.

      • @Nat

        “saying you’re ‘chosen’ (…) just means you have certain responsibilities”. And certain privileges, apparently. Just look at Palestine. Sorry, not buying it.

      • lily

        @ @ Nat, don’t bring Israel/Palestine into this discussion. You’re confusing apples with oranges. Nat was merely trying to explain what Chosen People means as it relates to the Jewish people, not Israeli policy.

      • ollie

        totally agree people seem to forget christianity didnt exist till after jesus died and like u said jesus himself was jewish. and when i watched the movie nothing stood out as anti-semtic and my grandmother is jewish so i wouldnt ever defend a movie that was anti semtic

    • Bob

      Christianity has always been conflicted on how to handle its relationship with the Jewish faith. On the one hand, Christianity blames Jews for Christ’s death (“A death he freely accepted”). On the other hand, they still need to keep them close by because the Bible says they have to be around for the final judgement. And, unfortunately, a lot of Christians “forget” that Christianity didn’t exist during Christ’s time.

      • Demigod

        I’m wondering how much his appearance fee was. It sounds like he has other personal issues that have held him back and made bad decisions abou this career. I doubt that whining will get him any jobs.

  • jenn

    That’s too bad! He’s great! Loved him in Count of Monte Cristo, as well. Hope he gets some more gigs soon!!!

    • Zoe

      Me too–his “Count of Monte Cristo” with Guy Pearce, Henry Cavill, and Richard Harris is excellent.

      • Macrina

        And his part (as a heroin addict) in Pay it Forward. My opinion, notwithstanding all the political discussion above, is that he is a fine actor.

  • Lazola

    Passion of the Christ for me was and still is a worth watching movie for me for I don’t want to be entertained by something that will never have an impact in my life but this movie made me to appreciate life more and this movie has won the hearts of Christians all over the world so as for me I don’t understand

  • rollvillan

    i think he was great as the count of monte christo

  • jamie

    LOVE JIM! Hollywood’s Loss.

  • Cinders

    He should remain exiled because he made Angel Eyes with J-LO.

  • lefty

    He’s had plenty of projects listed on imdb since Passion…

    • Jose

      But he has yet to receive the same amount of attention since.

      • Hannah

        He’s not the first or last actor to have a high point that he’s never quite able to reach again. It’s very common, in fact. Or is he too special for his career to be affected by the same rises and falls that touch everyone in Hollywood? Perhaps it’s that he’s just not as good as he thinks he is, and not that he’s a poor, persecuted victim.

      • mags

        At least he’s working steadily. He didn’t become an A-list star, but not that many do.

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