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January 15, 2002  550Words

Catholic Actor Jim Caviezel Discusses Faith, Fame and His Latest Film: The Count of Monte Cristo

CINCINNATI—In his relatively short career, 33-year-old actor Jim Caviezel has worked with some of the finest directors in the business. He has shared scenes with such high-powered actors as Nick Nolte, Helen Hunt and Sean Penn. And, opening nationwide on January 25, Jim’s latest film, The Count of Monte Cristo, costarring Guy Pearce and Richard Harris, may catapult him to even greater heights. But every ounce of fame and acclaim pale in comparison to the top priority in his life: an enduring faith in God.

Jim’s roadway to stardom and his deep-seated faith are featured in the February cover story of St. Anthony Messenger. Assistant Editor Christopher Heffron examines the journey of this devout young actor, who uses his faith as a compass to navigate through his life and career. The story can also be found, on January 26, at: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org.

Born in 1968 to a close-knit Catholic family in Mount Vernon, Washington, Jim dreamed of playing basketball in the NBA. But a foot injury permanently benched those plans. Armed with a talent in mimicry and a determination to succeed in acting, Jim packed his bags and headed for Hollywood in 1992. But significant work was hard to come by. After years of auditions and bit parts, Jim finally landed his breakthrough role, as Private Witt in Director Terrence Malick’s 1997 film The Thin Red Line. Jim won critical acclaim for his performance, as did the film, which garnered seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

More noteworthy roles followed, such as Frequency co-starring Dennis Quaid, Pay It Forward with Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment and Angel Eyes alongside Jennifer Lopez. When approaching a character, Jim turns to his religious faith for guidance. “I always come to a place of complete vulnerability…and prayer becomes a major part of allowing God above to do any kind of work he wants me to do,” he says.

Jim’s faith would prove essential for his latest role, that of Edmond Dantes/the Count of Monte Cristo, in Director Kevin Reynolds’s adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s classic story. Cruelly betrayed by his friends, Edmond, a pious young sailor, is wrongfully imprisoned for 13 years. When Edmond escapes his captors and becomes the Count of Monte Cristo, he

enacts revenge upon those who betrayed him. That fall from faith, plunge into vengeance and struggle to reestablish a relationship with God was a challenge for Jim and an evolution that he feels was guided by a higher power.  

“I have no doubt that God’s hand had a part in this film. I feel there was something divine going on when we were making this,” he says. Jim Caviezel feels his career has been a calling to serve as well as to entertain. He’s also quick to give credit to God for his success. “As an actor, I have to take it upon myself to serve the people. That will help check your ego at the door. People say to me ‘Wow, that’s a great film. My response is: ‘Hey—I’ll give glory to God for that one.’”

Additional information about this special issue of the award-winning national Catholic magazine can be found by searching AmericanCatholic.org.

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