Jim Caviezel, the actor who portrayed Jesus Christ in the movie "The Passion of the Christ," told the First Baptist Church of Orlando, Florida on April 30 to pray for the movie's director, Mel Gibson.

Caviezel's talk at the church was reported by the Orlando Sentinel and was to help promote a new dramatic version of the Bible he produced. (Which is available online for free listening at bible.christianpost.com/).

He spoke about some of the controversies that Gibson has experienced — such as drunken encounters with police, recordings of rants and his (recent charge for an alleged January 2010 battery against his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.

"Mel Gibson, he's a horrible sinner, isn't he?" Caviezel told the church according to the Orlando Sentinel. "Mel Gibson doesn't need your judgment, he needs your prayers."

The Guardian summed up Caviezel's rising star before he made "The Passion of the Christ" with Mel Gibson: "Jim Caviezel was a regular name on cinema hoardings before agreeing to take the lead in the controversial, bloody retelling of Christ's final days. He headlined the 2002 remake of 'The Count of Monte Cristo' and starred opposite Jennifer Lopez in the 2001 romantic drama 'Angel Eyes.'"

Then he got a call from Mel Gibson.

Caviezel told the 700 Club about how Mel Gibson had offered him the role of Jesus in his film. The next day, Gibson tried to talk Caviezel out of it. "The next day, he said, 'I want you to be aware of what you are going to go through. You may never work again.' He said that several times publicly. I told him, 'Mel, this is what I believe. We all have a cross to carry. I have to carry my own cross. If we don't carry our crosses, we are going to be crushed under the weight of it. So let's go and do it.' And we began with the film."

In his interview with the 700 Club, Caviezel told about how the role forced him into prayer because of how difficult it was. "It was so cold it was like knives coming through me. I had hypothermia. I don't know whether you've dealt with that, but on one day of hypothermia I was so cold I could barely get the lines out. My mouth was shaking uncontrollably. My arms and legs went numb. I was suffocating on that cross. In the mean time, you watch people have coffee and laugh. They were very indifferent about what I was going through."

"'The Passion of the Christ' was an enormous box office hit in 2004, taking more than $600 million worldwide after attracting huge numbers of religious filmgoers," The Guardian article said. "However, it was also the source of controversy with some critics accusing Gibson of anti-Semitism."

In 2008, LifeSiteNews.com asked Caviezel about the challenges of being Catholic in Hollywood. Caviezel said, "It's part of the cross you take up when you choose to believe in Him … we all have this desire to want to be liked … but what we should be asking God is the desire for humility." He also said that, "We were not awarded any Oscars for the Passion, but do you think that's the important thing for God? Certainly if we received ten Oscars, it would not bring any more peace into the world."

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The Orlando Sentinel reported that Caviezel told First Baptist Church of Orlando that he doesn't worry about getting fewer film offers after "The Passion of the Christ." He said his reward will come in heaven. "We have to give up our names, our reputations, our lives to speak the truth," Caviezel said.

Caviezel's career isn't completely shot, however. He has continued to work in films and on television. A fan website, www.jimcaviezel.us, says, "Jim will be in the new JJ Abrams (of "Lost") CBS crime thriller, "Person of Interest." Jim will be playing Reese, an ex-CIA agent previously thought to be dead. A reclusive billionaire named Finch tracks Reese down and teams up with him to prevent violent crimes in New York City before they happen."

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