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Why Hollywood Won't Cast Jim Caviezel

Near the start of the new millennium, American actor Jim Caviezel was one of the hottest heart-throbs in Hollywood. With starring roles in The Thin Red Line, Frequency, The Count of Monte Cristo, and more, Caviezel seemed primed for a long and successful Hollywood career.

However, after taking on the career-defining role of Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's controversial biblical drama The Passion of The Christ, Caviezel's big-screen career has been largely non-existent. So what happened?

He claims Hollywood rejected him

According to Caviezel, Hollywood isn't down with J.C.

Caviezel claims that accepting the titular role in The Passion of the Christ all but ensured the death of his Hollywood career. In fact, only minutes after Mel Gibson offered him the role of biblical proportions, the director tried to talk him out of it. "He said, 'You'll never work in this town again,'" Caviezel recalled to a congregation at First Baptist Church of Orlando. "I told him, 'We all have to embrace our crosses.'"

Caviezel, caring little for awards, accolades or the Walk of Fame, was willing to sacrifice his career for an opportunity in Gibson's interpretation of the story of Jesus. The actor said, "Jesus is as controversial now as he has ever been. Not much has changed in 2,000 years ... We have to give up our names, our reputations, our lives to speak the truth."

He burned his bridge with Mel Gibson

Caviezel's soured relationship with Mel Gibson certainly hasn't helped his cause.

The Passion of The Christ director has had his fair share of troubles since creating the controversial film, with some sections of Hollywood labeling the devout Christian as an anti-Semite. Gibson's reputation declined further when a tape surfaced in which Gibson is heard violently ranting and cursing out the mother of his youngest child — after which Caviezel didn't exactly come to the director's defense. "Mel Gibson, he's a horrible sinner, isn't he?" Caviezel told the First Baptist Church of Orlando. "Mel Gibson doesn't need your judgment, he needs your prayers."

Despite the negative press, Gibson still remains a presence in the film industry — with 2006's Apocalypto making a splash and 2016's Hacksaw Ridge taking home a pair of Academy awards. The same can't be said for Caviezel.

He went back to school

After playing Jesus, Caviezel decided to enroll in Spanish courses at the University of Notre Dame. "I'm in the process of finally getting my college degree," Caviezel told the school's Office of Public Affairs and Communications. "It's like home here. Like family. Notre Dame was a no-brainer. I plan to be studying here when I'm not working." (Which is often.)

Caviezel didn't just study at Notre Dame. He also addressed students in the Grotto, where he called on them to "have the courage to step into this pagan world and shamelessly express your faith in public." He also attended football games and participated in some student section crowd push-ups — though he's probably not happy about the 1990s stadium expansion obscuring a part of Touchdown Jesus.

He doesn't do love scenes

Sex sells — and Caviezel's unwillingness to film loves scenes makes him an unattractive bid for pretty much any movie aimed at adults. "I have a hard time getting naked on film," Caviezel explained. "I don't believe in it. I don't think it's right. In my faith, I'm taught that abstinence is important ... You're never gonna see my butt on film unless I'm in the Holocaust, walking around."

Nevertheless, Caviezel had to film a love scene with Jennifer Lopez in 2001's romantic drama Angel Eyes; he made it clear from the get-go that he wasn't appearing as God made him. "I just said, 'Look, put a top on her. I'm gonna keep my shorts on, she's gonna keep hers on. Get the camera and shoot around it.' And that's out of devotion, love, and respect to my wife."

Polish-American actress Dagmara Dominczyk also filmed a love scene with Caviezel in The Count of Monte Cristo and thinks the actor's unwillingness to shoot even PG-13 love scenes is a bit too much "Jim took me aside," she explained, "and said, 'You know, I'm married and very faithful.' And I said, 'Jim, it's a Disney movie. I'm not gonna grab your crotch!'"

He likened Michael J. Fox to Judas

In 2006, Caviezel appeared in a controversial anti-stem cell research commercial made in response to Parkinson's-afflicted actor Michael J. Fox's emotional endorsement of pro-stem cell research senatorial candidate Claire McCaskill.

Caviezel kicks off the advertisement by speaking the words "Le-bar nash be-neshak," which is Aramaic for "You betray the Son of Man with a kiss," a reference to Judas betraying Christ. Scholars of the ancient language agree that using the phrase effectively likens Fox — or anyone supporting stem cell research — to Judas Iscariot. According to Cathy Cleaver Ruse, a spokeswoman for Missourians Against Human Cloning, the phrase is fitting since the Amendment in question is deceptive. "It promises one thing and delivers another," she told The Washington Times.

Caviezel closes the ad in English, stating, "You know now. Don't do it. Vote No on Two." Regardless of one's political views, calling Fox a betrayer of Christ isn't going to make you any friends in Hollywood.

Person of Interest ended on a weak note

Caviezel's most notable post-Passion role is that of presumed-dead former CIA agent John Reese in sci-fi crime drama Person of Interest, which ran for five seasons on CBS. The show received generally positive reviews and ratings during its run, but not everyone was impressed by Caviezel's quality of acting.

Some television critics claimed Caviezel seemed asleep at the wheel, phoning in lines with lifeless energy. According to Uproxx, "He delivers every line in the same affect-less whisper, and whether he's doing a poor Clint Eastwood impression or trying to portray his character's emotionally anesthetized state, the performance is a black hole, sucking in all the entertainment value and crushing it into tiny atom-sized particles." While that review might be a little harsh, its tough to say Caviezel's personality carried the show — which is what one would generally expect from a Hollywood movie star.

Since the 2016 series' finale, which hit a ratings low for the show, Caviezel has yet to be seen again on the small screen.

He's busy raising a special family

Caviezel may not be receiving many offers from Hollywood these days, but that only opens up opportunities to give back and expand his family.

Caviezel and his wife have adopted three special needs children from China, including a 5-year-old girl who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor — choosing her instead of a healthy girl, whom they felt had a better chance of being adopted by another family. "They all were abandoned and unwanted," Caviezel said of his children. "Two of them had brain cancer. The third one had sarcoma. My wife said it doesn't matter whether children are wanted or not. They are people, just like [us]."

Hollywood doesn't like his politics

Caviezel, a devout Catholic, doesn't hide his conservative political views. Since Hollywood tends to largely be on the left side of the political spectrum, the two don't really jibe.

In addition to likening Michael J. Fox to Judas in the controversial anti-stem cell research commercial, Caviezel supports conservative Republican politicians like former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. Caviezel and Santorum were actually seated next to each other at Pope John Paul II's funeral and share similar pro-life Christian views.

While not every Hollywood star's religious or political stance negatively impacts their career, Caviezel hasn't been able to keep Church and work apart. "People in Hollywood keep asking me why can't I separate my acting career from being a Catholic," he told wPolityce. "My faith helps me to make the right choices."

He's focused on religious projects

Caviezel's fine with not receiving many Hollywood offers — he admittedly doesn't have as much interest in them anyways. Instead, the Catholic actor is focused on spreading "The Word" through religious projects.

In 2016, Caviezel narrated Liberating the Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism — a documentary purporting to tell "the true story behind the fall of an empire." He is also set to play Saint Luke in the upcoming biblical drama film Paul, Apostle of Christ in addition to narrating the upcoming historical investigation Onyx, Kings of the Grail.

A career resurrected?

After nearly a decade off the big screen, Caviezel's entire career might be primed for a resurrection.

Caviezel and The Passion director Mel Gibson have apparently buried the hatchet. According to USA Today, the actor who famously played Jesus is ready to reprise the monumental role in a sequel to The Passion of The Christ. In fact, he's downright stoked! "I won't tell you how he's going to go about it," Caviezel said, "but I'll tell you this much, the film [Gibson's] going to do is going to be the biggest film in history. It's that good."

Caviezel's excitement at playing Jesus once again is unsurprising, and the actor has repeatedly gone on record to claim that his sharing the same initials as Jesus Christ is actually fate. "Don't you tell me it was a coincidence," he told wPolityce. "There are no coincidences ... Only the atheists believe in coincidence. There are no coincidences for God."