In the following interview, reprinted with the permission of the Polish publication Polityce, “Passion of the Christ” actor Jim Caviezel shares how his faith, the Blessed Mother and Pope Saint John Paul II have inspired him.
Caviezel says he looks forward to the possibility of working with Mel Gibson again, to have the chance to inspire others, and how the idea is a source of renewed purpose in his life. The role of Christ was the most difficult thing he’d ever taken on, he says. And while the thought of doing it again feels like a nightmare, being in a place of martyrdom and sacrifice such as Poland makes him realize that only the love of Christ can save the world.
“If The Passion of the Christ inspired so many people to do good, why don’t we try again?” Caviezel says. “I feel like there is a purpose in my life again.”
Lukasz Adamski: You became the narrator of a documentary about Karol Wojtyla called “Liberating the Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism”. While being in Poland at the invitation of the Knights of Columbus you have visited the area where he lived and worked. Who is Karol Wojtyla to you in a personal, and not only geopolitical sense?
Jim Caviezel: During my visit to Poland I came to understand that he was carrying problems of the entire world on his shoulders. Not until now have I realised what a great power that was in Karol Wojtyła’s prayers and his words that had truly “renewed the face of the earth”. Except for this, there is a more personal side to it. Playing Jesus himself I faced a lot of criticism and often derision. I had to get on with it somehow and there wouldn’t be Jim Caviezel as Jesus if it wasn’t for John Paul II. Looking at his life and the power of his evangelism, I said to myself: why would you even care about that nonsense?
As a young person I read a lot about Nazism and the genocide carried out by Germans on Polish territory. The only source of my knowledge was limited to books but during my stay in Poland I realised how much Wojtyła must have suffered being directly exposed to Nazism. I’ve been to Auschwitz where Maksymilian Kolbe martyrly gave his life for a fellow prisoner. It made me realise the scale of suffering of Polish people. And then the Communism had followed making John Paul II to live under two of the most monstrous regimes. As American I lived peacefully worrying about the Cold War at most. I did not experience the totalitarian power. John Paul II had to live under two of them, just like your entire country. He represents it.
In a spiritual sense?
Poland, just like the Christ, had been crucified. Virgin Mary is the mother of Poland. Before he died, Wojtyła’s father told him that Mary is now also his mother. It is a great symbol of your nation.