RUSH: Well one of the things that has — one of the things I’ve noticed and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this to you is that in all of the — and I saw the movie back in July, and all of the talk about the movie since then and especially since the opening, you have really, you know, not gotten a whole lot of discussion because of the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson. But your work in this movie, the makeup alone. How long did it take you to get made up every day for this? I mean, this has to be one of the most physically laborious roles that you could ever have.
CAVIEZEL: Yes. Rush, during the (shooting) we’d start makeup for the crucifixion scenes at two in the morning, and I’d go till ten, and about two hours of maintenance on it during the day, in freezing temperatures, and then they took two hours to take it off at night. And then at the same time, I separated my shoulder. so I was dealing with hypothermia, and I got very sick up there.
RUSH: You were struck by lightning as well, weren’t you?
CAVIEZEL: Yes. I got struck by lightning, and (laughter) about three seconds before it hit I knew it was going to happen. It was like you were in the eye of a storm or something, like in a hurricane.
RUSH: Did you wonder (laughter) what was going on when these things were happening?
CAVIEZEL: Yeah, I looked up in the sky and said, “You didn’t like that take, eh?”
RUSH: (Laughing) You know, I have read that Mel Gibson said to you when he offered you the role that it might be your last.
CAVIEZEL: Yeah, he did.
RUSH: Is that because of the nature of the controversy?
CAVIEZEL: I think so. But any time you’re going to cover something like this, people are easily going to be offended. The guy that I chose to play didn’t go walking around saying, “Hey, be a good person.” “Hey, what are you telling me be a good person for? By God, let’s kill him.” He went after a regime, and there are many regimes, and still in the church and in the government, and he told the truth. And that’s what I was interested in playing. So when I met with Mel Gibson, whether it was Mel or anyone else, it didn’t matter to me. What was important was that we stayed with the gospels. That was too sacred to me for any director.
RUSH: I just have to say that…I mean, I’m not an actor, but even if I were, somebody comes to me and says, “I want you to play Jesus.”
RUSH: Last 12 hours of Jesus. That (laughing) I mean, you know that you, in this movie, you have now defined it. I mean, we are such a picture-oriented society that this movie has now served the purpose of defining it for people, and this is a movie I think, you know, with all of the culture shock that we got every day, it’s almost as though this movie had to be shouted. This movie had to be what it is in order for it to be heard because every previous movie that’s dealt with this or the life of Jesus has been pretty sanitized.
RUSH: And this isn’t. Did you have any doubts at all before you said “yes” to this?
CAVIEZEL: Um, yeah, I mean, but I never let my fear rule me in what I’m going to do in my life. I didn’t want to get to the end of and say, “Gee I wish I would have done this and that.” Braveheart is one of my favorite Mel Gibson films, and that’s what I liked about it, and he talked about, “When you get to the end of your life, would you exchange one moment from this day to that for one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that you may take our lives but you can never take our freedom.” And something like that rang true to me a long time ago, and that piece of work was inspired about this story. Many a great stories that you see including the Lord of the Rings, are inspired from this story. It’s the greatest love story ever told.
RUSH: Did you find anything surprising about all the controversy that started to rage long before people even saw this?
RUSH: I mean, at some point you’ve gotta…
CAVIEZEL: While we were filming it, Rush, we were already getting, you know, we were already getting it. So it was like fighting the Second World War against the Japanese and the Germans on both fronts. I don’t know how Mel even accomplished directing this thing.
RUSH: So how do you feel now?
CAVIEZEL: I feel like I did my job. I mean, I feel like a guy comes to me with my initials being J.C. and I’m 33 years of age and offers me this role. I took it. I completed it. I wouldn’t do it again but I did it, so that point is moot. I did it. And going through it, it was horrendously painful. You know, after getting hit by lightning you realize that you just about lost your life. The shoulder separation itself, if anyone out there has ever experienced that, when I was on that cross and that wind was blowing, it kept moving that cross and kept jarring my shoulder out of joint, and I was just in excruciating pain.
RUSH: What was the temperature? I mean, what time of year were you filming?
CAVIEZEL: Well, you’re looking at, at that point we were — I mean different times. But the majority of the cross was in November and December in south Italy on a thousand-foot cliff with 30-knot winds coming up. So the chill factor, the wind chill factor was enormous. And, you know, you’re looking at people wearing parkas and heavy, heavy coats with mittens and scarves and hats, and and they’re shaking, so you can imagine what it’s like being in a loincloth.
RUSH: (Laughing) Now, Mel told me, told us when he screened the movie that there was in one of the scenes where you were being flogged by the two Roman guards, that one of them slipped and actually hit you once.
CAVIEZEL: That’s right. During the —
RUSH: One of those blows actually with the whip actually hit you.
CAVIEZEL: That’s right. There was a board on my back about, I don’t know, about an inch thick, and the Roman soldiers would hit my back as they struck. They would hit that board, and I could see through a mirror when it was coming, but I had no idea how bad it was going to hurt me. So one of the soldiers missed the board and hit me flush on the back and it ripped the skin right off my back. But my reaction was I couldn’t scream; I couldn’t breathe; I lost my wind. Anyway, so I fell over. I played football and had the wind knocked out of me before but it was nothing like this. And it was like “Jim, get up. Get up.” He didn’t realize I had been hit, and so I put my hands back in the chains and got back up on the pillar, and then a couple swings later the guy just ripped into me again. This time it was about a 14-inch gash, and I couldn’t breathe and was suffocating. Ripped my hands out of the chains, and collapsed. And then after that, Mel tried to lighten up the situation. He started wearing the Bonzo nose and (laughter).
RUSH: Did any of these takes stay in the film?
CAVIEZEL: No, they’re not in the film because the shot was no good. Once I was keeled over you could see the metal board.
RUSH: Oh, okay.
CAVIEZEL: But they do have the outtakes of the film. It’s quite interesting to see.
RUSH: Talking to Jim Caviezel who stars as Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.” How do you feel now, Jim? Do you allow yourself to feel any vindication? So many critics now wanting back on the side of Mel Gibson and this movie. “Oh, I guess now that we’ve seen it, it isn’t anti-Semitic.” All the people — not all, but a lot of people who criticized Mel and the movie itself, now with the big box office opening, a lot of people, not everyone, is starting to take some of their criticism back. How do you feel as a participant in all this, knowing full well what the intention was, knowing what you delivered versus everybody who hadn’t seen it? What’s that like? All these people who have not seen it, saying it, now some of them want back in everybody’s good graces.
CAVIEZEL: Sure. Well, you know, people are — we’re all weak human beings in some way or another. We’re worried about our careers or whatnot. So I try not to think about it. In fact, my philosophy is it’s none of my business what other people think of me. [Rush softly applauding] And so I just knew when I did this, to me it was about love; it was about sacrifice and about forgiveness and hope, and not about assigning blame. And I believe that people now are starting to see that, and they’re quickly realizing that. And, you know, some feel ashamed and sorry but they also trusted other people that knew what they were talking about, that were going out there and knowing totally well that the film was about those things, and were reporting it wrong. So it’s so much something I can’t even get my head around, literally. I mean the Aramaic, the Hebrew and the Latin was hard enough. (laughter)
RUSH: (Laughter) Well, that’s… Can you hang on? I’ve got to take a quick commercial break. Do you have a couple minutes?
CAVIEZEL: Yes, of course.
RUSH: Jim Caviezel. We’ll be back in just a second, folks. Stay with us.
RUSH: And we’re back, and we’re talking with Jim Caviezel who stars as Jesus in the Last Temptation — (laughing)
RUSH: (laughing) What was it? “The Passion of the Christ.” All you actors learned Aramaic for this. you were not just muttering words. This is actually Aramaic you had to learn. How long did that take you?
CAVIEZEL: Actually, throughout the whole film. I worked on the Aramaic and then the old Hebrew and Latin, so there were three languages for me.
RUSH: Ah. That’s just, for me, that… I mean acting seems like an impossible thing to do anyway, but have to learn the language along with it and knowing that there are going to be some people that know whether you’re accurate or not with it is just another testament to everybody’s talent in the movie. Jim, I’ve got about a minute and a half here.
RUSH: All of this talk, “The Passion of the Christ.” What is “the passion” of the Christ as this movie intends it to be versus what it isn’t? What do people have right about this in what they’re saying and what’s wrong?
CAVIEZEL: Rush, what it means to me is I kept coming into my mind: “What was it about that man nailed to that cross at that moment? What happened there 2,000 years ago that continues to ripple through history with such power?” Some people called it the death of God but this is what our film, the Passion of Christ, explores. It’s a film for all people for all time. I have never been part of a film like this nor have I ever seen one that has made such a lasting impact on people. It’s a phenomenon, I don’t under(stand) it. You’ve just got to experience it. But there’s something in it that resonates about truth and that is really the center core of this film: truth.
RUSH: Interesting. And how it’s the power of truth, and how it wins out. Jim Caviezel, thank you so much.
CAVIEZEL: Thank you, Rush.
RUSH: It’s really been a thrill to talk to you. I’m glad that you’re out there speaking. Nothing against Mel, please, but he’s the director and it’s his movie and he’s taking a lot of the arrows, but some actors in this movie have done great work. Mr. Caviezel is one of them and it’s a pleasure to be able to talk to him.