Saturday, December 21, 2002

An interview with Jim Caviezel, in the middle of his portrayal of Christ for Mel Gibson

The physical and emotional torment, aside, Caviezel nevertheless insists he's thrilled -- no, honoured -- to be part of Gibson's film. "Doing this movie, particularly at this time of year, it's extraordinary," Caviezel says. He also believes it was meant to happen, was almost preordained."I believe there are no coincidences. The fact Mel came to me when I was still 33 years of age [the same age Christ died], there was a reason. I believe that Our Lord meant it. I believe He has a great hand in this film. That's why I'm continually asking Mary for help, to show me the perfect way to be her son."

The film, which will shoot in Italy until February, is clearly a labour of love, as well, for Gibson, describes himself as an old-fashioned Catholic (the former Road Warrior will only attend Mass if it's said in Latin). He has seen the raised eyebrows among his film peers in Los Angeles. He has heard their derision and snickers. Gibson admits the dead-language thing has made it difficult, nay, impossible, to find a distributor. But Gibson, who is both directing and financing the project, has kept faith in his original vision of this biblical drama.

At a press conference in Italy recently, the Academy Award-winning director of Braveheart joked that no U.S. studio wants to touch his movie with a 10-foot pole. "They think I'm crazy," says the action hero of such flicks as Mad Max, Lethal Weapon and The Patriot. "Maybe I am. But maybe I'm a genius. I want to show the film without subtitles. Hopefully it'll be able to transcend the language barriers with visual storytelling." Much of the script, which Gibson co-wrote, is based on the diaries of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) as collected in the book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary Magdalene will be played by Italian seductress Monica Bellucci. The screenplay was translated into Latin and Aramaic by a Jesuit linguistics scholar based in Los Angeles.

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