Who is Jim Caviezel? Sound of Freedom star explained

Cameron Frew
Jim Caviezel as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ and Tim Ballard in Sound of Freedom

Sound of Freedom has catapulted Jim Caviezel back into the spotlight, an actor whose controversy-ridden career makes for a fascinating deep dive – here’s what you need to know.

Over the past two months, you may have seen a clip of Caviezel saying six words: “God’s children are no longer for sale.”

These are the words of Tim Ballard, whom the actor plays in Sound of Freedom, a new movie chronicling the true story of the former Department of Homeland Security agent’s efforts to rescue children from sex traffickers. The real-life figure later quit his job and founded Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), an anti-human trafficking nonprofit organization.

The movie has knocked the jaws off of box office pundits, proving to be a formidable rival against Indiana Jones 5 and other films in US theaters, but it’s also the subject of intense debate and controversy. It may also be some viewers’ first Jim Caviezel joint, so here’s a rundown of everything you should know about the star.


Jim Caviezel’s early career

Caviezel is a 54-year-old actor who was born in Mount Vernon, Washington. The roots of his acting career stem from a number of small plays in Seattle, before he landed a minor role in My Own Private Idaho alongside Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix.

After moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting, it was evident early on that he had the juice: he turned down a scholarship at Juilliard to star in Wyatt Earp, before finding roles in Murder She Wrote, The Wonder Years, G.I. Jane, and crucially his breakout performance in Terrence Malick’s sublime The Thin Red Line.

Jim Caviezel in The Thin Red Line

The latter war epic is an ensemble piece, one which Adrien Brody believed he’d been tapped to “carry”, but he quickly realized at the premiere that his role had been reduced to around five minutes of screen time, with Caviezel taking his place as the central character. He has since credited Malick with altering the course of his career.

A slew of parts followed, including one crazy sliding doors moment: he was initially cast as Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, in 2000’s X-Men, but a scheduling conflict with his work in Frequency led to James Marsden bagging the role. He also starred in Pay It Forward, The Count of Monte Cristo, Hugh Crimes, Madison, I Am David, and Angel Eyes – and then came the most infamous role of any lifetime.

Jim Caviezel played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ

In 2004, Caviezel played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. To this day, it’s the highest-grossing R-rated movie in the domestic market and the biggest Christian film of all time.

The movie follows the final 12 hours of Jesus’ life, including Judas’ betrayal, the scourging at the pillar, and his crucifixion. The latter events are portrayed in extraordinarily brutal detail – but the violence was a minor point of contention in the grand scheme of controversy. Its production was unorthodox, in that Mel Gibson began production without any funding outside his own pocket, and thanks to accusations of antisemitism, the money tap stayed firmly off.

Prior to taking on the role, Gibson had warned him that he’d “never work in this town again”, but Caviezel told him: “We all have to embrace our crosses… 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.”

Jim Caviezel and Mel Gibson on the set of The Passion of the Christ

Whether it was divine intervention or rotten luck, Caviezel’s experience on set was punishing: as per Fox News, he “dislocated his shoulder, battled hypothermia, suffered a lung infection and pneumonia, endured eight-hour makeup sessions that left him with severe headaches and skin infections – and was struck by lightning.”

Nevertheless, even looking back, there is no regret. “This is the greatest part I’ve ever had. I felt like it would be ridiculous not to work with a guy like Mel Gibson,” he said.

“You can take anything and make something bad of it. In this film, you’ve got three different types of people: indifferent people, sympathetic people, and people who don’t give a rat’s ass about God and couldn’t care less. That’s the way it is in the world.”

Caviezel’s performance was praised by many critics, but he was undoubtedly tarred with a larger brush concerning the film’s reputation, and his filmography paints a clear picture: he appeared in Unknown and Deja Vu, before a streak of bombs and niche titles like Outlander, The Stoning of Soraya M., and Savannah, with the exception of Escape Plan. He also headlined The Prisoner, a remake of the ’60s TV series.

Jim Caviezel: Politics & religion

Caviezel is a longtime devout Catholic who’s cited religious beliefs and principles on the sets of movies, tending to refrain from gratuitous sex scenes and violence. “People in Hollywood keep asking me why I can’t separate my acting career from being a Catholic. Actually my faith helps me,” he told Catholic World Report in 2020.

“When I played basketball it motivated me. It’s the same now. I’m aware of the fact that I’m lazy, but that’s the reason I work so hard to overcome my weakness. My faith helps me to make the right choices, even though many people who inspired me didn’t have faith.”

His faith isn’t as polarizing as his political beliefs: he’s against abortion, lobbying against a Missouri amendment in 2006 that permitted embryonic stem cell research and therapy. And then there’s the small matter of QAnon.

Jim Caviezel and QAnon

If you’re lucky enough to have evaded the QAnon conspiracy theory, here’s a brief outline: its believers allege there’s a global cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles in the “deep state”, which warred with Donald Trump during his only term in power.

To be clear, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest this theory has any basis in reality, with its tenets in a state of near-constant evolution in response to the news cycle.

Caviezel has endorsed QAnon ideas on multiple occasions. In April 2021, he made an appearance at Clay Clark’s Health and Freedom Conference in Oklahoma alongside other far-righters, where he spoke about his role in Sound of Freedom and the “adrenochroming of children” – don’t worry, we’ll get into that shortly.

Later that year, he appeared at a QAnon-linked convention in Las Vegas where he delivered a 20-minute speech to the conservative attendees, borrowing lines from Mel Gibson’s 1995 epic Braveheart and using language associated with the conspiracy theory.

“Fight, and you may die. Run, and you’ll live – at least a while,” Caviezel said, quoting the movie.

“And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you have been willin’ to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that you can take our lives, but you can never take our freedom.”

He continued: “We must fight for that authentic freedom and live, my friends. By God, we must live, and with the holy spirit as your shield and Christ as your sword may you join Saint Michael and all the other angels in defending God and sending Lucifer and his henchmen straight back to hell where they belong.”

His speech concluded by referencing the “storm”, the day on which mass arrests of thousands of cabal members will apparently take place. “We are headed into the storm of all storms. Yes, the storm is upon us,” Caviezel said. QAnon supporters believe there are a number of political figures in the cabal, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

What is adrenochroming?

Adrenochroming is the alleged harvesting of children’s blood to extract adrenalin and produce a drug known as adrenochrome. There isn’t any evidence of this, but some QAnon supporters believe politicians, Hollywood elites, and other serial abusers and Satanists drink the blood as it’s the elixir of youth.

The origins of this particular theory are anti-Semitic, with Jews falsely accused of drinking children’s blood in rituals since the Middle Ages. Perhaps most famously, adrenochrome is featured in Hunter. S Thompson’s 1971 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, with Johnny Depp’s character taking the drug. “There’s only one source for this stuff, the adrenalin glands from a living human body,” he says in a quote that some experts cite as a pivotal seed in the theory.

There’s also Doctor Sleep, in which its villain, Rose the Hat, and the members of the True Knot abduct children who “shine”, torture and kill them in horrific fashion, and consume the “steam” they emit.

Why does Jim Caviezel believe in adrenochroming?

Adrenochroming is one of the main QAnon beliefs, and Caviezel has spoken at length about it.

At the Oklahoma conference, he explained: “Essentially, you have adrenaline in your body. And when you are scared, you produce adrenaline. If you’re an athlete, you get in the fourth quarter, you have adrenaline that comes out of you.

“If a child knows he’s going to die, his body will secrete this adrenaline. And they have a lot of terms that they use that he takes me through, but it’s the worst horror I’ve ever seen. The screaming alone, even if I never, ever, ever saw it, it’s beyond – and these people that do it… there will be no mercy for them.”

Amid accusations of Sound of Freedom appealing to the QAnon movement, Angel Studios’ chief executive Neal Harmon told The New York Times: “Anybody who watches this film knows that this film is not about conspiracy theories, it’s not about politics.”

Jim Caviezel as Tim Ballard in Sound of Freedom

In an interview with Jordan Peterson, Ballard said OUR has “condemned the majority of what they see with conspiracy theories”, and while he recognizes that he’s been connected to the QAnon conspiracy, he backed the “very real” practice of adrenochroming in third world nations.

Caviezel recently appeared on The Charlie Kirk Show, where he responded to allegations of being “QAnon adjacent.” He claimed he was unaware of the conspiracy theory during the making of the film, before comparing its believers to Christians persecuted by the Pharisees, an ancient Jewish religious sect.

“Now, by way of analogy, if I were the apostle Saul (Paul) and I’m a Pharisee, I’m going to go after the Christians and take them down. Now, let’s remove Christians and make it QAnon, I’m going to destroy them because the Romans told me they are evil. I’m going to destroy them because my own church staff, my fellow Pharisees said evil… well, I’m going to take them out,” he said.

“Then you find out it’s not QAnon, there’s Q and anons. And Q puts out a question and you are not allowed to ask questions anymore – not allowed to – and the anons, they look it all up and they start looking and investigating that stuff,” he added, saying how it’s “interesting” that people pointed to him.

Sound of Freedom can be streamed on Prime Video, which you can sign up for here. You can also check out our other coverage below:

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