Jim Caviezel Talks His Return to the Bible in ‘Paul, Apostle of Christ’

Jim Caviezel, star of “The Passion of the Christ,” is returning to the big screen in another Biblical epic called “Paul, Apostle of Christ” — but he’s not playing the title role this time around.

In the liturgical calendar, Jan. 25, is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, marking the moment that the Jewish citizen of Rome and zealous persecutor of Christians was struck by a vision of Christ on the road to Damascus.

“Paul, Apostle of Christ” doesn’t start there. Instead, the film from Sony Pictures’ faith-centric Affirm Films division, and Catholic not-for-profit company ODB Films, focuses on the end of Paul’s life. Played by James Faulkner (“Game of Thrones”), he is a broken old man, working feverishly from his prison cell in Rome to further the Gospel.

Facing his own crucifixion, he exhorts his follows to stand firm in their faith, even in the face of Roman persecution.

“Paul, Apostle of Christ” is set for release just before Easter, on March 28.

Said Affirm executive vice president Rich Peluso:

Next to Jesus, no one played a more central role in the growth of early church than the Apostle Paul.

He wrote a vast swath of the New Testament and traveled more than 10,000 miles by foot to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

his gripping film dives deep into the final months before Paul’s execution under Nero as he reconciles his faith with his past persecution of the Church.”

Andrew Hyatt is writer and director. Producing is his “Full of Grace” partner T.J. Berden, and David Zelon (“Soul Surfer”).

Caviezel plays St. Luke the Evangelist in the film, which shot on the island of Malta. He recently did an interview with National Catholic Register film critic Steven Greydanus. Click here for the whole thing; below are some excerpts.

On stepping into Biblical history:

I am praying for the audience — that what I read on script is conveyed to the person in the theater, and that they have the possibility of changing their lives. When you are playing Jesus or Luke or Paul … it just requires someone like me to get out of the way. And that’s what I pray about.

On preparation:

 Andrew Hyatt wrote the screenplay. I read the Acts of the Apostles and started lifting little clues here and there, and I went to Mass and prayed on them. And then we see how he wrote, how Paul sees [Luke], and I started cross-examining him — and there is a lot of cross-examining and asking him about it — and, slowly, it starts to all come together.

I think one part of it is that he was a physician, and he had this particular lifestyle — he was wealthy, and he left it all. Why? He saw Paul speak. Was it Paul who spoke, or was it Christ speaking through him? I believe it was the latter, and that changed his life. So that’s kind of where I started.

On the trouble with faith-based films that sand off the rough edges, compared with the raw vision of “The Passion of the Christ”:

Well, there is truth and there is grace. Maybe years ago there was too much of the truth, and they got one side of it — you know: “You screw up, and you go to hell.” Fire and brimstone drove a lot of people away. Nowadays, it’s all grace and no truth. That’s sentimental hogwash. It isn’t truth or grace — both are important.

So when people go out and make movies, they — excuse my grammar — they have a good guy becoming gooder and ending the goodest. Where’s the turns here? Were these guys sinners?

…  This is the reality of sin, and I’m not soft-pedaling it.

We’re pretty excited here at Family Theater Productions because Hyatt and Berden are coming to our offices on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood on Feb. 7, to share the film’s trailer and do a Q&A in our screening room.

Click here for the Facebook Event page, and here for the RSVP link. We can only fit so many folks in our theater, so watch this space for a report on what the filmmakers had to say (and a video interview!).

To make things easy, throw a like on our Facebook page, and you won’t miss an update.

And you can see the trailer right here …

Image: Courtesy Sony Affirm; ODB Films.

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