Billy Graham: Jim Caviezel’s ‘Person of Interest’

By   •   May 1, 2012

When fans tune in to the “Person of Interest,” they may not realize that actor Jim Caviezel, who plays crime fighter John Reese, credits Billy Graham with showing him God’s truth at the age of 15.

Yes, Jim Caviezel was Jesus in the 2004 film, Passion of the Christ, a role that comes along once in a life time. But “B.C.,” the actor played memorable parts in movies like Pay it Forward and Frequency.

These days Caviezel is seen most often on the small screen, starring in the hit CBS series “Person of Interest” (Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET), in which he plays John Reese, an ex-CIA hit man who turns crime fighter in partnership with a computer genius played by Michael Emerson.

With anticipation building for tonight’s season finale, we thought it would be fun to dust off this interview from 2004, when Caviezel talked about the impact of Billy Graham just before stepping on stage at the Rose Bowl during the November 2004 Greater Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade.

After their meeting, Mr. Graham said he was impressed with Caviezel’s deep sincerity and the commitment to the Gospel that Jim and his wife, Kerri, share.

Q: You first met Billy Graham during the filming of Passion of the Christ. What was your meeting like?

Caviezel: I’ve always wanted to meet him and I was profoundly moved. What moved me the most about him was that he gets out of the way and allows God to come through. It’s so easy to give the truth with a bit of your own spin on it. He doesn’t. He speaks from his heart. He prays from the heart, and we’re forever grateful to him.

Q: We understand a Billy Graham television special had a real impact on you. Can you tell us about that experience?

Caviezel: When I heard him speak [on television] years ago, it was in the middle of the night, and I couldn’t deny—there was something inside me that said, “This is the truth.” I recognized truth from the start, and I had to answer it. It doesn’t matter if this person hits you or your father did this to you or whatever, the truth still exists out there. Something I couldn’t quite put into words at 15 years old. It gave me a hope.

I saw the truth. And I knew at the end of the day, when I’m dead and gone, it’s just me and God standing there, and I have no one else to protect me. All those people that were my beer-drinking buddies that were going to be with me … ? They’re gone. Here I am. It’s one-on-one now. I had to answer to that.

Q: Did you have any doubts or concerns about portraying Christ?

Caviezel: Yes, a voice would say, “Do you dare try?” We ask God for forgiveness, but we come short and don’t forgive ourselves. But I could still hear that truth of grace, “I love you. I will forgive you. I have forgiven you, Jim. You haven’t forgiven yourself.”

“But, God, I’m not right for this role. I’m not, you know? You could have chosen better.”

“But, Jim, I don’t always choose the [most qualified], you see? So do you dare try? Do you take the responsibility that I’m giving to you?”

And offering this role to play Jesus was a great blessing, to ask me to be an actor is a great blessing. But still, with all these things is great fear. And am I getting to the end of my life and saying, “Yeah, I lived life like a coward”? I can’t.

I’ve always been the person that didn’t want to get to the end of their life and see what they could have done and been afraid. I don’t run on fear. I go on desire and hope, and I took this role as a responsibility. That’s how I see it still.

Q: Do you think that it’s difficult to be a Christian in Hollywood right now?

Caviezel: I think that in these times, of course it is. But anything that I undergo, I look at as redemptive suffering. In other words, the pain that I go through [is] for the conversion of sinners. And I ask God that he could use my suffering for that. 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.

Q: Do you have a favorite Bible verse that inspires you?

Caviezel: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” — Philippians 4:13.


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  1. mayvelyn tolentino says:

    It’s a powerful testimony to share with, which I just did today. To God be the glory ! Amen


    It is so real and encouraging. Glory be to God.

  3. Patricia Haynes says:

    I accepted the Lord in my life when I was a teenager, I’m now 70 years old. I love ❤️ Jesus with all my heart, but over my life I have sinned daily! I myself have made my life difficult and many times have asked forgiveness! I know God loves me but it is so very hard to get back what I once had! I pray that he forgives my many mistakes!

  4. Dee Williams says:

    I accepted the Lord 50 years ago. I am 84 years old and was thrilled with your testimony. You were right on, God is using you for his kingdom. My prayer for you is to kept the faith and finish the race. You are already aware of what Satan can do. With Gods grace continue to speak the Word. Amen

  5. Wanda Oxendine says:

    I recieved the LORD as my savior in 1981 ,backslider in 1988,wow,misable life I was living,made a pure mess,lost my husband to divorce redicated my life in2004,amazing What a wonder GOD we serve so forgiving I love your work,and faith keep up the good work,

  6. Laura Altman. says:

    My husband Andy and I have a great respect for Jim and family and the trials that is sure to come when you decide to live your life without compromise. Jim you inspire us to do better. Paul says “follow me as I follow Christ” in the end. It is that. What people think? We won’t remember any of that when standing next to Jesus. We are praying for you , may our Jesus bless you as you and you’re family make decisions concerning where to go and what to do! In Jesus love, Andy and Laura Altmann

  7. Steve Doody says:

    Brought up within the care system from 5 years old,,my heart gave up on love way before my teens,,extremely angry and self destructive,,hurting the hearts of those around me until aged 25 I surrendered literally at the foot of the cross upon hearing a sermon about those drowning outside of Noah ark!,, I understood immediately the gospel message and screamed out to Christ to reveal himself within my heart,,fast forward,,I now manage a children’s home and lead worship,,, bless you jim,,you received your calling,,,we all must!!!!