Cover Story

Jesus & James

Issue: "Mel Gibson's passion," Feb. 28, 2004

ACTOR JAMES Caviezel, who plays Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, sat down with WORLD and other members of the press recently in Los Angeles. Here are some of the highlights of what he said about his role in this controversial film:

On struggling to complete the movie: "[Mel Gibson] was under attacks. At the same time that he is directing he is fighting wars all over the place. I don't even know how we finished this thing. It was a miracle. God gave us just enough, barely enough."

On playing Christ: "I never felt adequate, that I was Him, but I felt like God would say to me, 'I don't always choose the best.' At the same time I have to accept the responsibility and say, 'Who's gonna pick up? We all have a cross to carry.' The first thing I said to Mel was, 'Mel, if we don't carry our cross we're going to be crushed under the weight of it.'"

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On the person of Christ: "He was the Truth ... He's both truth and grace. You can't have one without the other. It's a complete balance.... That's the Christ that I wanted to play upon.... My prayer was, I didn't want people to see me. I only wanted them to see Christ."

On compromising one's faith: "We water down our faiths to accommodate each other but we are only hurting ourselves, because we are only going against the very thing that we believe. We are accommodating sin and this is a problem."

On the controversy surrounding the film: "I am proud of this film because it is under attack. I'm proud of it because it is the truth, 'it is as it was,' even though they are trying to discredit that line.... This film is a controversy. People [say] all the time, 'Oh, I heard about that film. It's a very controversial film.' I say, 'Yeah, Jesus was.' He didn't die for some mythological story, He didn't die for fantasy and all the guys that followed Him didn't die for fantasy."

On what the movie taught him: "I know [Jesus] in a more personal way than I ever have."

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