DENVER — It has been more that a decade since Jim Caviezel played Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.” This spring, he’ll play St. Luke in another major religious film, “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” opening in theaters on March 28.
Unlike “The Passion,” Caviezel will not be the main actor in the film: James Faulkner, star of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” will portray Paul.
“James Faulkner is to Paul as Christopher Reeve is to Superman. … This guy was born to play Paul. When he was walking around, it was in his behavior. You couldn’t find someone else who organically nails it like this,” Caviezel recently told USA Today.
The movie follows St. Paul in the last days of his life, facing Roman imprisonment for preaching Christianity while waiting execution under Emperor Nero. Luke, a physician, is able to visit his fellow Christian in jail.
Caviezel said the movie’s theme centers on forgiveness and merciful love, a message relevant today, and he recalled a powerful scene in which Paul restrains Luke from calling for justice on the Roman oppressors.
“Forgiveness starts with not just love, but ardent love,” Caviezel told USA Today. “It’s really easy to love people who think like you think; it’s very hard to treat someone with a polar opposite view with the same dignity and respect you would treat a friend. That’s this movie’s core message.”
Since Caviezel played the role of Christ, he has received offers for parts in other religious movies, but is picky about the movies that change scriptural stories.
“It’s like, ‘We want to change this, pull that out,’” said Caviezel. “I’m like, ‘This book has been around a lot longer than any of us in Hollywood.’”
“‘I have the faith to believe it’s still good for us now.’ That’s one of the greatest things about [“Paul.”] You don't realize it, but it's actually scriptural.”
While the release of “Paul” is still a month away, Caviezel is also excited about another movie, the sequel to “The Passion,” again directed by Mel Gibson.
Caviezel has not disclosed the sequel’s tentative filming schedule, but has hinted at some surprises in the retelling of Christ’s resurrection.
“There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience,” he said. “But I’ll tell you this much: The film [Mel Gibson’s] going to do is going to be the biggest film in history. It’s that good.”
Gibson has talked about the movie in the past. He has said it has taken time to develop a script that sheds a new light on Christ’s resurrection without making it “weird.”
“The resurrection. Big subject. Oh, my God," Gibson told USA Today. "We’re trying to craft this in a way that’s cinematically compelling and enlightening so that it shines new light, if possible, without creating some weird thing.”