“Mel Gibson warned actor Jim Caviezel that playing the character of Christ was going to be very difficult and that if he accepted, he most likely would be marginalized by Hollywood.
Caviezel asked for a day to think about it and his response to Mel who was funding and directing the movie was: “I think we have to make it, even if it is difficult.” And something else, my initials are J.C., and I am 33 years old. “I didn’t realize that until now.”
Mel responded with “You’re really scaring me you know.”
During filming, Jim Caviezel who plays the part of Jesus lost 45 pounds, he was struck by lightning, he was accidentally struck twice during the scourging scene leaving a deep ￼14-inch scar, he dislocated his shoulder when the cross was dropped into the hole with him on the cross. He then suffered pneumonia and hypothermia from being nearly naked with only a loin cloth on the cross for endless hours. The crucifixion scene alone took 5 weeks of the 2 months of shooting.
His body was so stressed and exhausted from playing the role that he had to undergo two heart surgeries including open heart surgery after the filming production. Jim explained, “I didn’t want people to see me. I just want them to see Jesus. Conversions will happen through that.”
Almost like a clairvoyant prediction many amazing things happened. Pedro Sarubbi, who played Barabbas, felt that it was not Caviezel who was looking at him, but Jesus Christ himself, as he played that role, he said of Caviezel, “His eyes had no hatred or resentment towards me, only mercy and love.”
Luca Lionello, the artist who played Judas, was an avowed atheist before shooting began. He eventually converted, and baptized his children. One of the main technicians working on the film was a Muslim converted to Christianity.
Some producers said they saw actors dressed in white they didn’t recognize during one of the filming sessions, and when they reviewed the recordings, they realized they couldn’t see them in that footage.
The Passion of the Christ is the highest grossing US religious as well as the highest R-rated film of all time, with $370.8 million! Worldwide, it grossed $611 million. More importantly, it has reached 100’s of millions of people around the world.
Mel Gibson paid $30 million out of his own pocket for the production of the film because no studio would take on the project.
Today Jim Caviezel simply and boldly proclaims his faith in Christ, and the miracle it was for him to represent Christ as an actor and a greater believer of Christ because of this experience.