More than telling a story, Jim Caviezel is sending a message with his latest film.
“Sound of Freedom,” in theaters July 4, chronicles the true experiences of former U.S. government agent Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad, a nonprofit dedicated to combating and rescuing children from sex trafficking and the modern slave trade.
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Caviezel, best known for portraying Jesus in Mel Gibson’s 2004 epic “The Passion of the Christ,” plays Ballard in the movie, distributed by Angel Studios, and feels compelled to call Christians to action, particularly over an epidemic as sinister as sex trafficking.
“Our faith is paramount,” the Catholic actor recently told CBN’s Faithwire. “But it has to have something that comes from it. You love someone; it’s an action. It’s not what I say, it’s what I do. The problem is, in a lot of this modern-day Christianity, is people … are more afraid of the devil than they are of God.”
“And God could kill the devil without a glance,” he continued. “And so, when I look at someone who might not want to watch this film, I say our love for God’s children has got to be more than our fear of evil. Our love for Jesus has got to be more than our fear of the cross, because, at some point, that [persecution] is going to happen.”
Perhaps more than many, Caviezel understands what it means to face spiritual opposition manifesting in physical ways. While filming “The Passion,” he was struck by lightning, dislocated his shoulder, contracted hypothermia, and was accidentally whipped during taping, according to Far Out:
Jim Caviezel had one of the toughest and spookiest experiences any actor can ever expect to face. This included accidentally being whipped twice resulting in a 14-inch scar, dislocating his shoulder while carrying the cross, contracting hypothermia while being crucified in -4°C [25° Fahrenheit] conditions, and suffering severe migraines as a result of swollen make-up effects impacting his depth perception. So far so horrible, but there was one strange incident that made this ordeal seem like more than merely a testing shoot.
While filming the Sermon on the Mount, Caviezel was literally struck by lightning. Somehow, other than his hair catching fire, he miraculously survived unharmed.
The only true antidote to spiritual warfare, Caviezel explained, is a deepening dependence on God.
Caviezel recalled continually praying, going to church, and “meditating on the Gospels” while filming “The Passion.” He did the same during shooting for “Sound of Freedom.”
A result of his commitment to those spiritual practices, Caviezel explained, was an idea for a particularly powerful yet disturbing scene in the movie — an ad-libbed moment he and his co-star Kris Avedisian shot from a dimly lit diner in just one take.
Avedisian plays Ernst in the movie, one of the worst pedophiles Ballard had ever encountered.
The two men had already filmed the scene as it was scripted, but director Alejandro Monteverde remembered the idea Caviezel had mentioned just a little bit earlier, and gave him the chance to play it out.
At that, Caviezel told Avedisian, who hadn’t heard the line, to “just go with me” as they filmed the alternate version — and that’s the scene that ultimately made it into the final product.
“We do the whole scene, we get to the end, and I throw the line in, ‘Better a millstone be hung around your neck that you be cast into the sea than you should ever hurt one of these little ones,'” Caviezel said, a direct reference to Matthew 18:6. His co-star, acting confused, began laughing.
Caviezel’s character also began laughing — but for a very different reason: he had all the incriminating evidence he needed to arrest the heinous pedophile.
“It’s just brilliant how it all came out,” Caviezel recalled. “It was like five moves in one moment. It’s things like that that were — that was a dark thing to talk about, but that lets you know what Jesus thinks about these guys. They are rejecting the Holy Spirit. To do what they do is to reject the Holy Spirit, and that’s the only unforgivable sin.”
And that’s the message at the heart of the film: to combat evil.
“Being able to take a movie — like ‘The Passion’ or like this — and use it for good,” Caviezel said. “Our film — I knew we could beat anyone in the world. I hate the ‘faith-based’ sound. You know what it says? It says, ‘Hey public, we made this movie for you — it’s a faith-based film — so you gotta go see it.’ Hey, if it’s not good, don’t go see it. This thing is phenomenal.”
To learn more about “Sound of Freedom” or to purchase tickets, click here.
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