Actor James Caviezel on The Stoning of Soraya M.
By Hannah Goodwyn
- The timing of James Caviezel’s new movie could not be better. With daily video from angry protestors, the world is once again transfixed on what is happening in Iran.
Set in Iran in the 1980s, The Stoning of Soraya M. tells the true story of a woman who is wrongly accused of a crime and consequently stoned. Village leaders condemn Soraya M. to death for allegedly committing adultery. The accused woman’s husband creates this conspiracy to have her killed so that he may marry a teenage girl. In secret, Soraya’s courageous aunt shares her story with French journalist Freidoune Sahebjam (James Caviezel) who happens to be traveling through the area a day after the brutal killing.
Recently, CBN.com spoke with The Passion of the Christ actor about this new soul-shaking film.
CBN.com: Many Christians may be apprehensive about watching this film because it suggests that Islam is the path to Paradise. What would you say to those who may think this way?
James Caviezel: I would think that the flaw in that would be the story of the Good Samaritan, and how does that apply to that thinking. In the story of the Good Samaritan, you have two of his own countrymen that walked past him. This guy has been beaten up, lying on the side of the road, and two from his own faith walk by. One happens to be a priest. They do nothing. They don’t want to get involved. The one who does get involved is one of the opposite religion or an enemy, a Samaritan… that’s what they identify him as. And he gets involved. Despite the guy’s religion, despite the guy’s nationality, he gets involved. He takes the guy, puts him on his mule, and takes him back to the inn. He gives the innkeeper money, takes care of the man. He says, "I’ll be back and I’ll bring more money and whatever you need."
I look at that and it tells me what I should be doing. So I guess you don’t have to go any further than the gospels to figure out what the right thing to do is, whether you should be more concerned helping someone regardless of their religion or where they’re from.
CBN.com: During the stoning scene, a memorable line is delivered. "With each stone you throw, your honor will return." The picture of when Jesus stood over the accused woman as a stone-carrying angry mob crowded around her comes to mind. How has seeing Soraya's story reaffirmed your own faith?
Caviezel: I think Jesus understands in this world there is suffering. Jesus knows that there is real suffering, and He is there for us in our suffering, and it will not change because it has always been this way… because it’s sin.
What separates our Lord’s friends from those who walk without Him is the grace that accompanies His followers. If a soul is willing to accept Heavenly grace, for that soul, suffering has changed. The crosses that are carried in union with Heaven benefit both the individual soul and the world. When viewed this way, which is the true way, souls understand that suffering is not a bad thing, but a valuable thing to be exploited for Heaven.
CBN.com: Producer Stephen McEveety has said he hopes people explore their souls after watching the film. How has this incredible movie touched you?
Caviezel: I watch it as a way of practice. Watching a film, how it’s powerful is -- you don’t have to actually live it out. In this little box in this room where the viewer is watching this movie, he transcends from wherever time period he is in and he goes there and he witnesses it. And his soul goes to the place that it knows, which is cowardice, courage. It calls you out. It knows what you would do before you do it.
Let’s say, you watch a story like this and you would have run. You would not have wanted to have been involved. Some people walk away enraged that that secret is out there now or they will cover and say it’s about something else… exploiting women, or you’re attacking religion. Deep down it comes from another place because what you are in private is who you really are. And others will take it as, you know, I’m a coward. I’m not there yet. I got to be there.
I realized the Church isn’t just about Sunday. It’s seven days a week. The gospels are living out on Tuesday when you find out that someone else at your work was raped and now you’ve got to get involved in it. And it may cost you your own name, you may lose your job. In other instances, you may lose your life. But then I ask you, when do the gospels really become real or is it just a book that we read. Many people now look at it as a place of where it’s Happy Jesus… happy talk. Tell me how I’m going to prosper. Well, I think you may financially sometimes. But let me tell you this much, you can’t take it with you. Even if you could, well I won’t even go there because you can’t. But I think the prosperity that God’s talking about is the one where Heaven gains, not yourself. It’s what you do for Heaven. That’s where you’re going to be spending most of your time, not here on Earth. This is just a trial.
We’re all going to go through these persecutions, but what I’ve found now is that many Christians don’t want this. They’ve molded into this pagan attitude of secularism. It’s what I want, what I need, what I’m about, my things. It’s all about me. So a film like this makes you naked. You realize what you would do. It’s hard because this is a film that is relatively pretty recent. And you know, they still stone. Last month, there was a stoning in Iran. There is a stoning in any area that has Sharia Law. They do these public stonings. All I know is what I’ve got to do. And it’s to get involved.
For more information about the movie or how to get involved in raising awareness about human rights violations, go to www.thestoning.com.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Entertainment and Family producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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