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Whatever Happened To Jim Caviezel?

Near the start of the new millennium, American actor Jim Caviezel was one of the hottest heartthrobs in Hollywood. The actor had starring roles in "The Thin Red Line," "Frequency," "The Count of Monte Cristo," and more hit films, and 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.

The true story behind the actor's rejection by Hollywood reveals that it's mutual. But not only that — Caviezel actually still appears in big productions, from a starring role on "Person of Interest" to small indie films and the unlikely controversial blockbuster "Sound of Freedom." Regardless, though, it's hard to argue his star has fallen since his days in award-winning popular films like "The Passion of the Christ." So what happened to Caviezel?

He claims Hollywood rejected him

According to Jim Caviezel, Hollywood isn't down with J.C. — and he's not only talking about himself. Caviezel claimed 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 (via The Guardian). "I told him, 'We all have to embrace our crosses.'"

Caviezel, who said he cares 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

Jim Caviezel's soured relationship with Mel Gibson certainly hasn't helped his odds of a comeback. 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 (via The Guardian). "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, Jim 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 Jim 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 (via People). "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, Jim 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

Jim Caviezel's most notable post-"Passion of the Christ" 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, it's 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

Jim 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]."

He was ousted from Hollywood for far more than political differences

Modern Hollywood is a largely liberal place. There is a widespread belief that self-identifying as conservative can hamper someone's career in the entertainment industry. Whether or not there is any veracity to this is up for debate, as plenty of conservative-leaning actors and filmmakers have led and continue to lead thriving careers: Clint Eastwood, Michael Bay, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mark Wahlberg among them. Some might try to ascribe the same pitfall to Jim Caviezel and suggest his Hollywood career drying up was due to political differences. He is an extremely vocal Republican and a devout Catholic who speaks of his faith regularly, but are these alignments the cause of his ousting from mainstream Hollywood productions? No, not really.

The things that led to Caviezel's downfall in Hollywood are political in nature but can by no means be called common political views or beliefs. Caviezel fell down the conspiracy theorist rabbit hole and began spreading harmful lies and misinformation. Upon facing pushback, he doubled down and dug deeper into radical fringe nonsense. He aligned himself with dangerous individuals and groups and has continued to support and signal-boost them for years. A difference in political views is a far cry from using one's status as a celebrity to push harmful and damaging ideology while whipping up other conspiracy theorists into a frenzy that could easily boil over into violence, like what happened with the January 6th Capitol insurrection.

He's focused on religious projects

Jim 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 returned to film adaptations of biblical stories, playing Saint Luke in the biblical drama "Paul, Apostle of Christ" opposite James Faulkner as Paul. He also narrated the historical documentary "Onyx, Kings of the Grail" and starred in the film "Infidel," produced by far-right filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza. Not all of his work since "The Passion of the Christ" has been overtly religious or conservative, though — he had a small role in the Bill Pullman-starring Western drama "The Ballad of Lefty Brown" in addition to appearing as a villain in the Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger action film "Escape Plan."

A career resurrected?

After nearly a decade off the big screen, Jim Caviezel's entire career might be primed for a resurrection. Caviezel and "The Passion of the Christ" 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." Traction for the sequel began almost a decade ago, but progress seems to be starting up again in 2023 after Gibson staged a comeback with projects like "Hacksaw Ridge" and the "John Wick" universe prequel series "The Continental: From the World of John Wick." Caviezel's career has also gained a foothold thanks to the success of "Sound of Freedom."

The Sound of Freedom controversy

Jim Caviezel's biggest movie in years by far is "Sound of Freedom," but the film has become shrouded in controversy, and its massive box office success wasn't achieved through strictly organic means. The film has been pushed by Donald Trump—  who even hosted at least one screening of it — and other right-wing figures. That on its own is not particularly notable, but the other prominent group pushing the film is far more damning: QAnon. If you are unfamiliar, QAnon is a dangerous collective of conspiracy theorists that has been linked to, amongst many other things, participating in the January 6th Capitol insurrection.

Caviezel himself is a known follower of QAnon and has become a bit of a figurehead for the group owing to his stardom in the entertainment industry. The QAnon collective has been extremely vocal in their support of "Sound of Freedom," which functions as a dog whistle for some of their conspiracy theories, and has worked to ensure that the film is a financial success. At the end of theatrical screenings of the film, a video message from Caviezel plays urging audiences to go and buy additional tickets to further support the film and inflate its numbers. This direct approach has been effective — "Sound of Freedom" has already earned almost seven times its budget since premiering on the Fourth of July.

The adrenochrome conspiracy theory

Jim Caviezal was already linked to QAnon long before the release of "Sound of Freedom." He has supported, promoted, and signal-boosted many baseless conspiracy theories over the years, but there is one that he has pushed harder than all of the others: the adrenochrome conspiracy theory. This is one of their most widespread, flagrantly untrue, and dangerous conspiracy theories, as they claim that "elites" — which essentially means prominent liberals like Hilary Clinton — are abducting and killing children to harvest adrenochrome, which they say is the world's most potent drug and has de-aging qualities. Adrenochrome does exist, but in reality it is just a simple compound sometimes used to treat blood clots.

Obviously, the adrenochrome myth is a completely fabricated conspiracy theory that should not be taken seriously. Nevertheless, Caviezel believes it wholeheartedly and has seemingly made it his mission in life to promote the conspiracy theory as much as humanly possible. In 2021, he appeared as a featured speaker at a far-right event called the Health and Freedom Conference to push the adrenochrome conspiracy theory to a cheering crowd of fellow conspiracy theorists and also to promote his film, "Sound of Freedom."

When he was asked at the event to explain what adrenochrome is, Caviezel said, "When you get scared, your body produces adrenaline ... if a child knows he is going to die, his body will secrete this adrenaline," which he says is then harvested to make adrenochrome, as recorded in a video shared on Twitter by Eric Hananoki, a journalist with Media Matters. In the same breath, Caviezel went on to say, "This is one of the best films I've ever done in my life" and suggested it would win an Oscar, referring to "Sound of Freedom."

More QAnon connections

To promote "Sound of Freedom" and push the bogus adrenochrome conspiracy theory, Jim Caviezel spoke at the Health and Freedom Conference, which is a COVID-19 denial conspiracy theorist event. It is by no means the only conspiracy theorist event that Caviezel has been a guest of honor at.

In 2021, Caviezel gave a speech full of QAnon dog whistles at an event in Las Vegas called For God & Country: Patriot Double Down. The event is explicitly a QAnon convention, and Caviezel's speech found him saying things like, "We are headed into the storm of all storms," and, "The storm is upon us," per The Daily Beast. "The storm" is a common QAnon talking point and refers to their forecasted fascist uprising that was supposedly going to be led by Donald Trump and coincide with the January 6th Capitol insurrection. Caviezel's speech took place after the supposed date for "the storm" went by, with him signaling that "the storm" is still on the horizon to a room full of cheering QAnon followers. Caviezel also quoted the timeless trio of Ronald Reagan, the Bible, and the movie "Braveheart" in his speech, while calling on the "patriots" listening to rise up and fight alongside the angels. His speech certainly sounded like a vague call for a violent uprising, but his coded vernacular kept it in a gray area.

He has close ties to a phony JFK Jr.

Jim Caviezel has become one of the most prominent QAnon followers in recent years, but one person who is even more renowned and respected within the group is the man who goes by the alias Juan O. Savin and is one of the group's biggest financial backers. JFK Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999, but a portion of QAnon followers believe that Savin is JFK Jr. and that he faked his death and has been living in hiding since. Other followers believe different people are secretly JFK Jr. in hiding, but they are all agreed that he is alive and part of QAnon, logic and evidence be damned.

Savin and Caviezel have close ties to each other. They appeared on stage together at the For God & Country: Patriot Double Down event, and Savin claims to be involved in "Sound of Freedom" behind the scenes. The film's distributor denied his official involvement, but Savin said, "We're driving across the country, Jim Caviezel and I, 'Blues Brothers,' trying to get the funding sorted out for the marketing side of the movie," per The Daily Beast. Savin also has ties to comedian Rosanne Barr and many Republican politicians, such as Georgia State Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is an open QAnon supporter.

He spread COVID-19 misinformation

Knowing the extent of Jim Caviezel's involvement in conspiracy theories and QAnon, it likely comes as no surprise that he spread COVID-19 misinformation as well. As mentioned, Caviezel was a featured speaker at the Health and Freedom Conference, which was principally a haven for COVID denial, anti-vaxx misinformation, and other conspiracy theories. While there, Caviezel pushed the dangerous adrenochrome conspiracy theory before the event ended with a large-scale burning of COVID masks.

Additionally, following the death of Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley's daughter, Caviezel suggested that her death may have been caused by the COVID vaccine but that, "Mockingbird Media doesn't want anyone questioning whether it was from COVID shot," via Vice. Mockingbird Media is a reference to a fake news conspiracy theory that takes its name from a CIA program from the Cold War. Other celebrities and conspiracy theorists like Travis Tritt and Tomi Lahren joined Caviezel in blaming Presley's death and the deaths of others on the COVID vaccine.