Jim Caviezel Talks About Life, Faith, and Being a Role Model
CBN.com Jim Caviezel interviewed by Scott Ross
Jim Caviezel’s versatility as an actor is unquestioned. He’s convincingly played a wide variety of roles, perhaps the most famous - Jesus Christ. His latest movie – When the Game Stands Tall – comes out today. Caviezel plays high school football Coach Bob Ladoceur. If you’re thinking this is just another football movie, think again.
SR: It’s very different –to you go to see a sports movie it's about the sport. But this is a whole – this is beyond sport.
JC: Yeah, things that are going to last for the rest of your life. A lot of times, you know, when you think about high school people get caught up and their high school years are their glory years. He has glory coming right from here and these boys take that and go with it for the rest of their lives and becomes great fathers, husbands, leaders in their community, guys that become great military commanders, NFL sports stars, or whatever have you, but they have a foundation that he helps build right here with them to find – and let them know that they're loved, that God loves them.
SR: Well, the essence of this thing is again, it's not just sport. He's building character into it…
JC: He never focused on winning. We're talking about a guy who won 151 football games in a row.
SR: No one's ever done that?
JC: It's the longest streak in the history of all sport, okay? Nobody's ever done that. And he – they never lost a football game for 12 years. And he did it without focusing on winning. He talked more about things like adversity in their lives… You know, he says, "It's not how hard you hit someone, it's how hard you're going to get hit. And when you get your bell rung if you have the guts to get back up again." That is very reminiscent of our faith. If they persecute you, know they persecuted me first.
SR: And he brings that into the equation. It is – there is a spiritual dimension here as well.
JC: It's all about the other guy. And from that, these boys are learning responsibility. And you see young men now, boys, and they assume that just because they're 30 they're men. No. 40-year-old, there are a lot of 30 and 40 and 50 year, and 60-year-old guys and you've met them. What do they have in common? Lack of responsibility. They don't want to step up. He's not about that. He says, "we're not asking you to play a perfect game. That's impossible. What we're asking of you and what you should be asking of yourselves is to give a perfect effort on every place from snap to whistle, that you can be depended on. Love means "you can depend on me."
SR: Wow. And you carry that into life?
JC: You know, my father played for John Wooden at UCLA –
SR: Your dad?
JC: Yes. And he had – wooden had that same thing. And coincidently enough, he also has the longest in-college winning streak of all time. About 88 basketball games in a row, and he – 10 national championships and whatnot - he never focused on winning.
SR: You played basketball, didn't you?
JC: Yeah, I did.
SR: Did the principles that Ladouceur espouses in life -were those things that you were aware of when you were playing?
JC: Very well aware of them.
JC: Yeah, they were my foundation to why I even made it in Hollywood.
SR: What's that?
JC: I had great role models and there were bad ones too. Ladoceur - he's authentic. The great ones are all authentic. Boys are looking for leaders and they're looking for courage.
JC: Boys follow courage. Men follow courage. And it's out there. But it'll take a bit of a shift right now in the world before we start seeing some of them step up because it's not working right now.
SR: How do you apply that to your choice of scripts? Or the show you're doing now.
JC: I look for redeemable stories. Look, there's something moving about a character who finds himself in a very negative situation and trying to turn and find the positive or finding himself in the darkness by the choices that he's made and suddenly says, "you know what? I can't do this anymore." now, the character I play, John Reese, in Person of Interest, I wouldn’t say he is in any way in the light yet. He's still trying to find that way. But how many of us are looking for it? And god needs people to be those beacons of light, you know?
SR: Do you run up against that in the Hollywood world, the show business and all that where you have to make these kinds of choices that are difficult? Have you lost parts as a result of these kinds of choices?
JC: Sure. But there's only one choice to make.
JC: Well, there's the easy way and then there's hard way. The easy way for me is the one where I follow my savior. The hard one, for me, is (slight laugh) the one that's going to take me to perdition. I can't love my life so much – let's think about this – that I would not throw myself in the way of the enemy that's going to hurt and maim my children, my own three children. That I love my life so much –
SR: You'd lay down your life for them.
JC: Well, but I don't want to die, right? I mean, I'm going to save myself. And -
SR: Self-preservation. (laughs)
JC: I'd rather be dead. You know, I don't mind doing the movie The Stoning of Soraya, I don't mind doing The Passion of the Christ. And when my time's done, it's it. You can be liked by many, or you can be loved by one. Love does not come from man, it comes from God.
SR: What do you want people to take away from this film? It’s not about the individual, it’s community, it’s relationship, it’s all of that. So what do you want people to take away?
JC: Somebody said in the '80s “I'm not your kid's role model." This is the antithesis of that. You can try to tell your kid something till you're blue in the face, and you bring them somewhere else and they can finally see it.
JC: Now I'm coming from a perspective not a player but a coach, a father who's concerned about his kids, and I want my kids to understand that, you know, that I love them and that this is the kind of man that I would get behind and play because this is what I want my children to be like. And I want them to go into life not thinking that it's about the money or any of that stuff and to forget the world, to follow God with all their hearts. To love Him, ‘cause He loves them.