Caviezel: "rejected" by Hollywood after playing Jesus

The star of “The Passion of the Christ” spoke recently about the impact that landmark film had on his career.

From the Daily Mail:

Actor Jim Caviezel has claimed his Hollywood career was wrecked by playing Jesus.

He said he was ‘rejected in my own industry’ after taking on the lead role in Mel Gibson’s controversial movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’.

Since playing the son of God in the 2004 film he said offers had dried up and he is shunned by many within the industry.

Although a box office hit taking more than $400million worldwide it was condemned as being anti-Semitic.

Gibson, the film’s director, was later accused of making anti-Jewish remarks after being arrested for drink driving.

Caviezel said he was warned against taking the part by Gibson who warned him he would never work in Hollywood again.

‘He said, “You’ll never work in this town again.” I told him, “We all have to embrace our crosses”.’ Caviezel told an audience of churchgoers in Orlando, Florida.

Since Passion of the Christ, the 42-year-old has only appeared in a handful of films.

Prior to playing Jesus he was considered one of Hollywood rising stars and appeared in The Count of Monte Cristo’ and ‘ngel Eyes with Jennifer Lopez.

One of his biggest hits was in 2000 with time-travel thriller Frequency opposite Dennis Quaid.

Caviezel, a devout Roman Catholic, said he knew playing Jesus would be risky.

‘Jesus is as controversial now as he has ever been,’ Caviezel said. ‘Not much has changed in 2,000 years.’

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  • http://jomlongo@aol.com JoAnn

    This is not at all surprising, given the nature of Hollywood and the lowlifes (lowlives?) who inhabit it and run the place.

  • David

    In fairness he was terrible in the remake of The Prisoner.

  • Justin B.

    He’s got four movies coming out in 2011 and 2012, according to IMDB. That must not be a very heavy cross he’s carrying.

  • Gerry

    It’s sad about his career. I’ve alway thought of him as a good actor. I’m glad to see he takes his faith seriously.

  • Frank

    Hollywood careers are about making money for the backers of the film. If he isn’t perceived as being able to do so, then he will struggle in his career. I’m not at all sure it has anything to do with his faith.

  • Meggan

    It could be his association with Mel Gibson that’s hurting him. Think of other actors that have portrayed Jesus. Has the role hurt their carreers?

  • Mike Demers

    It seems that the same kind of thing happened to all the other guys that played Jesus.

  • Billy Bean

    Megan raises a good point; association with Gibson is certainly not a resume enhancer in Hollywood these days. On the other hand, it would be naive to think that such a “Catholic” portayal of Jesus as Gibson and Caviezel presented in “The Passion of the Christ” is going to win you many friends in Tinseltown. It is not “Catholics” that are loathesome to today’s militantly secular culture; it is serious Catholicism that is anathema to the media elite.

  • Meggan

    Some actors that have played Jesus:

    Max Von Sydow
    Jeremy Sisto (had a good run on Law and Order)
    Christian Bale
    Chris Sarandon (ok, not a great career, but not bad)
    Jeffery Hunter (ditto)
    Willem Dafoe
    Ralph Fiennes (voiced the part in an animated movie)
    Henry Ian Cusick (played Desmond in Lost)

  • pagansister

    George Burns played God and his career was certainly not hurt! :o )

  • romancrusader

    Hollywood is controlled by a bunch of rich liberals. Makes me wonder how many of them get away with tax evasion. Go figure. Pope John Paul II was controversial as well and the main stream media wasn’t happy when he was declared blessed. JP2 came to them in the way of righteousness and many Catholics and non-Catholics believed him. But even after that they didn’t admit they were wrong. Hollywood treated him however they pleased. Our western society hasn’t really changed the past 2,000 years or so. There’s over 117 different versions of Jesus, all claiming to be true. How do we know which one’s right? It’s really simple, the Catholic Jesus. Sometimes I wonder how much longer God’s going to tolerate the immoralness of our Western Society. Hollywood endorses pretty much every sin under the sun.

    But then again, we are all guilty of sin no? The foolishness of our society.

  • Fiergenholt

    I have to admit, Mel Gibson had an erratic career. The “Mad Max” trilogy had a cultic following but the films were not an economic success. His portrayal of “Hamlet” was exquisite and probably was the all-time best filmed version of that classic — except it wasn’t “classic” enough for English teachers who panned it because of the scenes left out. There are scenes in “The Passion” which are extraordinarily powerful, but he lost any credibility in my mind when he had the Romans of that era of Jesus speaking Latin rather than Kione Greek.

    Like a number of commentators in this stream, I am not sure Caviezel’s problem is portraying Jesus as much as it is working in a Gibson production. Gibson’s life is erratic enough and Gibson’s personal religious practices are so far out or the mainstream to call them “Catholic” is a travesty.

  • brother jeff

    I don’t think anyone cared that they weren’t speaking kione greek. And the gospel evidence is that they spoke Latin, e.g. ecce homo.

  • J

    “he lost any credibility in my mind when he had the Romans of that era of Jesus speaking Latin rather than Kione Greek.”

    Why would the Romans be speaking Greek, exactly?

    His portrayal of the Romans speaking Roman was historically accurate.

    I suppose the evangelist Luke lost credibility in your eyes when he made Pilate put the charge in Latin on Jesus’s cross?

  • J

    What language do you think the American soldiers garrisoned today in foreign nations speak when they’re talking to each other in their own compound?

  • Brenda

    Maybe Jim Caviezel, instead of being a small fish in a big pond could consider being a big fish in a small pond and associate himself with Catholic movie productions — which are just beginning to take off. They contradict the blatant moral corruption of Hollywood, and produce movies that are edifying and instructive. I believe that Steubenville University has something going in their communications department… It’s just a thought about giving, instead of expecting to receive… from a dried well.

  • Kelso

    Brenda is right. He should count himself blessed if he’s shunned by Hollywood and should rather hook up with Eduardo Verastegui and that crew.

  • AlDelG

    I don’t know about Kione Greek, but I remember at least one historian claiming that the “Roman” legionaires posted in Jerusalem at the time of Christ would most likely have been Syrian mercenaries.

  • Rob

    The Latin Vulgate records “ecce homo.” The Greek reads “idou ho anthropos.” That the Latin translation says “ecce homo” doesn’t demonstrate anything (other than St. Jerome’s translating skills).

    The Romans would have used Greek as the common tongue when speaking with the Jews. Latin among themselves, Greek when speaking with foreigners. That’s the whole point of a common tongue.

  • Rudy

    It’s called Koine (meaning “common”) and it was the lingua franca of the first century due to the spread of Greek language and civilization from the time of Alexander the Great’s conquests three centuries before. Greek was the equivalent of English today, a language spoken by people for business and diplomacy. Most educated Romans and some not so educated such as centurions and plain soldiers had at least a basic knowledge of Greek. In fact, many great Latin writers considered Greek a cultured language as instead of their native Latin. Latin became later, after the third and fourth century the main language in the West, while Greek remained the common language of the East until the Arab conquest of the seventh century. As Rob says, the gospels and all of the New Testament were written in Koine Greek. The “Titulus” the sign posted over Jesus’ cross was inscribed in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Most Jews though spoke Aramaic and not the classic Hebrew of the Bible. That the film chose Latin and not greek is probably a historical inaccuracy. But then, all of Hollywood’s so called historical movies play free with the actual story in order to highlight the dramatic line.

  • Rudy

    And yes, most probably the Roman soldiers that crucified Jesus were foreign mercenaries, either Syrian or Greek and therefore must have used the “common” Koine Greek to communicate with their officers and other people, even if they knew basic Latin. Remember the Centurion that arrested Paul during the riot in Jerusalem, he was a Greek mercenary who had purchased his citizenship and spoke to Paul in Greek. And yet his letter sent to the procurator in Caesaria Maritima reads like a standard Roman military report. Some of the expressions used by Pilate are also so Roman that undoubtedly were uttered originally in Latin such as “what I have written, I have written”, “Here is the man” or “What is truth”. But all in all, yes, if Greek would have been used in the movie, it would have been more historically accurate. But the film remains a powerful work of art.

  • annmarie

    Perhaps it was not the playing of Jesus which resulted in shunning, but the fact he played the Jesus for Mel Gibson.

    With all due respect to those who will disagree with me, I found Gibson’s movie offensive, gratuitously violent and lacking in a sense of respect. It was sadisdict.

    Subsequent actions by Gibson betray a less than Catholic approach to the world. Maybe Hollywood knew that, saw it as hypocrisy and reacted as it did?

  • annmarie

    Sorry. I meant sadistic. That’s what happens to those of us who learned to read with phonics.

  • Brother Jeff

    I thought it was brilliant from start to finish.

  • jpaYMCA

    There are quite a few people who have commented who must not know too much about 1st century Palestine, let alone Rome. Latin, Aramaic (maybe what was meant by Hebrew), and Greek were “common” tongues during Jesus’ time, so putting Latin words in Roman soldiers’ mouths and in the mouth of Pilate is certainly not inaccurate: the entire NT has come down to us in Greek, but that does not signify that all recorded conversations were in Koine. FYI – there were quite a lot of scholars whom Gibson consulted for the film: I’d assume they knew what they were talking about.

  • Patrick Reynolds

    It seems that in trying to flount our of knowledge of the accuracy of Gibson’s depiction, that we have deviated from the point.
    Caviezel has merely pointed out the fact that since he potrayed Jesus in the movie “The Passion of the Christ”, he has been side-lined by many in Hollywood. Valid point!
    Whether it’s because he played Jesus, or whether it’s because Gibson has a bad reputation, I don’t know.
    What does worry me, is the blatant anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, anti-christ mentality that has crept into our society. What worries me more, is the fact that it seems to remain unchallenged.
    We Catholics, make up a huge percentage of the audiences of the mainstream entertainment industry; including movies from Hollywood. Why don’t we use this to our advantage and try to implement some changes?
    Imagine how different things would be if Catholics stood together and boycotted those movie which have less-than-desirable content. Imagine if we stood together to support those which promote good ideals. I think even the Hollywood producers would have to take notice.

  • pagansister

    Question, Romancrusader: In post 11, You claim there are over 117 versions of Jesus—and you claim the Catholic version is the only correct one. Somehow I don’t think so. No one really knows the whole truth or version. If everyone agreed—there wouldn’t be so many different branches of the Christian faith.

  • Ben

    Hollywood – Sodom and Gomorrah ?

  • Katherine

    I too agree with Brother Jeff that i thought the movie was brilliant from start to finish. If you think the torture and crucifixion of Jesus was anything less than offensive, gratuitously violent, lacking in a sense of respect and sadistic, then you are deluding yourself.

  • Robert Sledz

    @pagansister what George Burns did at 70, He wouldn’t do at age 40. And playing “GOD” was hardly controversial. Please…

  • Tapestry

    Most actors don’t get much work in Hollywood, of the thousands of SAG members only a handful get starring roles. It’s a tough business and this guy I never heard of before the movie.
    Just blaming whatever for his non-roles is silly, if he was a really good actor he would go to the theater and hone his skills. Many hollywood types when they found no work would look to doing plays in NY; many actors found they either had real talent or none at all.
    There is also many Catholic production companies out there that would take him in heart beat. Instead of whining about what he can’t have he needs to look to see what he can do

  • pagansister

    Rober Sledz: Yes, George Burns was 70 (only a few years older than I am) when he played God. So in your opinion, playing God wouldn’t be considered controversial but playing Jesus can be or is? What’s the difference in parts? No one really knows what God looks like and actually, no one really knows what Jesus looked like. The pictures that have Jesus as blonde and blue eyed, however, are probably inaccurate considering he was supposed to have been born where he was.
    BTW, how would you know George Burnes wouldn’t have played God at 40? We don’t know what he would have done, if offered the chance at 40. He just might have said yes. That would have been very cool.

  • Thomas R

    I think one thing that intrigued me about the “Passion of the Christ” is you had this film that made huge amounts of money, but it didn’t lead to anything much. Usually hit-films lead to copies or, if they’re controversial, responses. Someone could have done their own take on Jesus or, if they feared Gibson’s was influenced by Antisemitism, done something on a great Jewish religious figure. Instead, exempting maybe the movie Nativity, it was sort-of like Hollywood did a collective “This never happened, this audience doesn’t exist and if they do we don’t even want their money.” Which is unusual. If a director had made the same amount of money adapting a Wagner epic I think we’d likely have seen Wagner or Germanic epics everywhere for awhile and Wagner was Antisemitic too.

    That said I do think the association with Gibson is likely what hurt him. I’ve even seen Catholics wonder if Caviezel rejects Vatican II or hates Jews. Also even if he’s doing less movies “Person of Interest”, his TV show, is doing okay last I checked.

  • Thomas R

    As for the movie “The Passion of the Christ” I did have a problem with the devil scenes as they’re not from the Gospels, or the Stations of the Cross unless I’m missing something, and gave parts of the movie an almost “creepy” vibe I found distracting. Also I think the part on the scourging, though Biblical, went on a bit too long and showed too much.


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