Interview: Jim and Kerri Caviezel, and Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”
Other languages: English, Hrvatski
Date: July 27, 2005 , Originally published December 10, 2003
Interview: Jim and Kerri Caviezel, and Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” Jim Caviezel, who stars in the most recent Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ”, has arranged a private presentation of the unfinished version of this movie at “The Mother’s Village” in Medjugorje, on Saturday, December 6th, 2003.
During the same weekend, the film was seen by members from the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the group that oversees Catholic doctrinal questions. All of them expressed unanimous appreciation and approval of the film.
(More about the film: http://www.passion-movie.com; Interview with the Dominican Fr. Di Noia, undersecretary of the doctrinal congregation: Vatican Members Review of Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ")
The interview given to Fr. Mario Knezovic for Radio “Mir” Medjugorje is the first interview in which Jim and his wife Kerri publicly speak about this movie.
Fr. Mario Knezovic: How did you hear about Medjugorje and what does Medjugorje signify for you?
Jim Caviezel: I first heard about Medjugorje in 5th – 6th grade. They said that it was like the apparitions of Fatima, Guadeloupe, Lourdes, and they quickly said that the bishop said that it was false, so - as obedient catholic - I accepted what hey were saying. Many years later, I met my wife, we got married, and after a few years she went to Medjugorje. While she was there, I was filming “The Count of Monte Cristo” in Ireland. She called me to Ireland, I felt that there was a change in her voice, but I wrote it off very quickly, thinking: “That’s good for you, dear, who am I to take away from your spiritual experience?” She said that Ivan Dragicevic was coming to Ireland… I met with him a couple of times, and during an apparition, I felt a physical presence. Ivan told me two things that really hit me: “Jim, man always makes time for what he loves”, and “The reason man does not make time for God is that he does not love God”. Then, he talked to me about praying from the heart. That became like a beginning of a mission for me – to always pray from my heart.
Kerri Caviezel: I was in seventh grade and our priest showed us a film of the children during an apparition. We were told that it was true. We were from a mixed catholic community – mostly Croatians and Italians. My grandmother is a 100% Croatian. It didn’t seem hard to believe. I took me 15 years to come. When I came, I knew immediately - from what I was feeling in my heart - that it was real. I haven’t seen signs or anything, but - I have been a Catholic for my whole life and I had never felt in confession as I felt when I was here. It was a tremendous healing.
Fr. Mario Knezovic: What do you expect you’re your stay in Medjugorje and for which intentions do you pray in Medjugorje?
Jim Caviezel: I pray for the peace in the world, I pray for my family and I pray that God may continue to make me follow him, to make me a better catholic and a good husband.
Kerri Caviezel: I pray that we are open to wherever Mary is leading us, and that in all the places where we go and to the people that we meet around the world, we may bring these messages.
Fr. Mario Knezovic: “The Passion of the Christ” movie, in which you are playing Jesus Christ, is almost finished What was it like to play Jesus? How did you adjust your body and your soul to the body and the soul of Jesus? How was it to be Jesus?
Jim Caviezel: The catharsis for me to play this role was through Medjugorje, through Gospa. In preparation, I used all that Medjugorje taught me. Mel Gibson and I were going every day for Mass together. Some days I couldn’t go for Mass, but I was receiving the Eucharist. Somewhere along the line, I heard that the Pope was going for confession every day, so I thought that I should go for confession as often as possible. I didn’t want the Lucifer to have any control over the performance. We have sins of commission, but also sons of commission. My sin of omission continuously is that I don’t love enough. So, the confession was the preparation for the Eucharist. Ivan Dragicevic and his wife Lorraine gave me a piece of the true cross. I kept this on me all the time. They made a special pocket in my clothes for it. I also had relics of Padre Pio, St. Anthony of Padoua, Ste Maria Goretti, and saint Denisius, the Patron saint of Actors. Another thing was fasting. I read many of the messages continuously. Every day everyone could see me with the rosary in my hands.
Fr. Mario Knezovic: Mrs Kerri, has your husband changed since he played this role?
Kerri Caviezel: The first time I saw the cross on him, when he had all the make-up, he didn’t look like my husband, he looked like Christ. They have taken a picture of the Shroud of Turin, and they used the make-up to create that, exactly that face. It was so real, that people looked at him in the way that people must have reacted to Christ: some were full of reverence; some were indifferent, and some made fun of him. It struck both of us; we understand in a small way what it must have been like. It was personal in our lives; I think that he realized the weight of this role. There will never be a more important thing that he ever does.
Fr. Mario Knezovic: Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic, the Director of the “Mother’s Village” and of “St. Francis’ Garden” has organized the viewing of this film for a narrow circle of friends at the “Mother’s Village”. This is we ask him where has this initiative come from?
Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic: Jim and Kerri are here as pilgrims for a couple of days. Jim brought the 95% finished version of the “Passion-movie” that has already been seen by some at the Vatican and by some other people. He asked us to find a group of people who want to pray with us, and who are ready to see this movie. He invited us to gather together at “The Mother’s Village” and to see the movie after the prayer of the Rosary. I invite everyone to pray for the success of God’s plan with this movie, that God with his grace and his gifts may accompany this movie.
Fr. Mario Knezovic: How to bring Our Lady’s message to today’s world, how to open human hearts for God’s word?
Jim Caviezel: Through one’s own life. It is not what we say but what we do. I dedicate my work to Her Son, I dedicate all that I do to Her Son. I ask Mary to guide me and my career. You can convert people only by living your life. This film is something that I believe was made by Mary for her Son. Because it was made by her, it will be attacked by the enemy. In the USA, this film is under major scrutiny because of the truth that it brings. By living the truth, you will also be persecuted, the enemy will attack you, but have no fear, Our Lord will send his help and give you strength. And you will inherit heaven.
Kerri Caviezel: To echo what Jim was saying, it has to be in how you live. When we walk on to a new movie, people on the set already have heard that we are Catholic Christians. So, they watch, they look to see how we are, in good and in difficult situations. You try to do the best as you can, and you use opportunities that arise to bring the messages and the power of love to whatever you are doing.