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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • 'Passion of the Christ' star Jim Caviezel says playing Jesus sunk his career

    (Icon Productions)

    Despite a long list of woes that include being labeled an anti-Semite, having a violent temper and allegedly breaking the teeth of the mother of his youngest child—Mel Gibson has a friend in Jesus—or, at least the actor who played him in 2004’s “Passion of the Christ.”

    “Mel Gibson, he’s a horrible sinner, isn’t he?” Jim Caviezel asked members of the First Baptist Church of Orlando, FL during an appearance Saturday night. “Mel Gibson doesn’t need your judgment, he needs your prayers.”

    Caviezel, 42, spoke at the 14,000-member church in a speech the local paper described as “giv(ing) witness to his faith, (urging) others to share it and to sell a new all-star audio production of the Bible that he has produced.”

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    The staunch Roman Catholic recalled when Gibson first offered him the role of Jesus, he warned that it could end his career.

    “(Gibson) said, ‘You’ll never work in this town again,’” Caviezel explained. “I told him, ‘We all have to embrace our crosses.’”

    During the 20-minute talk, Caviezel said he was “called” to be an actor, noting that it was no coincidence that “in my 33rd year, I was called to play Jesus.”

    He even joked about his initials– J.C. –with Gibson during casting, which “freaked [the director] out a little.”

    Caviezel said taking on the role of the Son of God limited his career, saying that he was “rejected in (his) own industry.”

    “Jesus is as controversial now as he has ever been,” Caviezel said. “Not much has changed in 2,000 years.”

    But Caviezel has no regrets, saying “We have to give up our names, our reputations, our lives to speak the truth,” and adding that he’ll get his reward in heaven.

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