Mel Gibson's biblical drama “The Passion of the Christ” divided and shocked audiences in 2004. The movie has its share of bizarre moments and was highly controversial, but as surreal as things get during the movie, there were also some bizarre happenings behind the scenes.
Being struck by lightening is fairly rare, but in 2003 it happened three times on the set of The Passion of the Christ. Lead actor Jim Caviezel claimed he was "lit up like a Christmas tree" while filming the Sermon on the Mount sequence.
Caviezel said that five minutes after he was struck, assistant director Jan Michelini was also struck by lightning. While Michelini came over to make sure Caviezel was OK, the lightning struck him.
Unbelievably, that wasn't even the first time the assistant director had been struck on set. Michelini had his umbrella struck previously in production, but this thankfully only gave him burns on his fingertips.
A hidden whipping post was set up behind Caviezel while filming the notoriously bloody scourging scene, but one of the actors didn’t have great aim. The lash hit Caviezel on the back not once, but twice while filming.
Caviezel rose at 2 AM every day so the makeup team could apply all the cuts and bruises, and they even had to seal one eye shut. This messed with his depth perception and gave him terrible migraines.
In addition to his previous injuries, Caviezel also dislocated his shoulder while carrying the film's massive cross. The 150-pound cross felt heavier as the day went on, and he later suffered hypothermia when he was hung on it.
The film’s production had a profound effect on many involved, and the set became the site of some religious conversions. Ironically, one of these was Luca Lionello, the actor who played Judas who had previously been an atheist.
Caviezel also shared the story of one actor, who played a guard in the film, that converted from Islam to Christianity. Caviezel said that everyone who worked on set was affected in one way or another.
In addition to all the horrific things he faced on set, Caviezel also took a hit to his career after production wrapped. However, the actor is set to reprise his most famous role in Gibson's upcoming sequel to "The Passion," which he is quite excited about.