With his soulful, deep-set blue eyes and a dark, eerily beautiful countenance, Jim Caviezel has inspired more than a few comparisons to Montgomery Clift. Thus, it was somewhat fitting -- and more than a little ironic -- that Caviezel first broke through to the American public as The Thin Red Line's Private Witt, a character loosely based on Clift's Private Prewitt in From Here to Eternity.
A native of Washington state, Caviezel was born in Mount Vernon in 1968, one of five children in a devout Catholic family. A gifted athlete as a young man, he performed brilliantly on the basketball court and dreamt of joining the NBA. He attended Seattle's O'Dea High School, and later Burien Kennedy High, attending Bellevue Community College after graduation (where he continued to play ball), but a foot injury forced him to withdraw from the team and try acting instead. He debuted cinematically with a bit part as an airline clerk in Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho (1991), Caviezel landed an equally minor role in Michael Ritchie's disappointing boxing yarn, Diggstown (1992). Accepted at Juilliard that same year, he declined the school's offer in favor of a supporting role in Lawrence Kasdan's 1994 Wyatt Earp. Unfortunately, this film (like Diggstown) flopped, and for the next several years, Caviezel bounced back-and-forth, between minor roles in big budget Hollywood films like The Rock (1996) and G.I. Jane (1997) and more substantial roles in turkeys such as Bill Couturie's Ed (1996). Fortunately, in 1998, the long-dormant Terrence Malick came calling with a role in his war opus The Thin Red Line (adapted from James Jones's Guadalcanal Diary) and Caviezel struck gold. The film received a number of Oscar nominations including Best Picture, and its stellar ensemble cast, which included Ben Chaplin, Sean Penn, George Clooney, and Nick Nolte, earned almost unanimous acclaim.
The following year, Caviezel gained further recognition with his role as one of a group of renegade Civil War soldiers in Ang Lee's Ride With the Devil and his portrayal of a football coach's embittered son in Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday. In 2000, Caviezel starred in the supernatural thriller Frequency, as a fireman who -- through a supernatural occurrence -- communicates with his long-dead father (Dennis Quaid) over a ham radio. The low-budgeted film became a modest hit.
Later that same year, Caviezel starred in Mimi Leder's shameless tearjerker Pay it Forward as a homeless junkie befriended by a young boy (Haley Joel Osment). He then landed a role opposite Jennifer Lopez in the heady romantic drama Angel Eyes (2001); the picture died a quick death at the box office, yet Caviezel's performance in the film dramatically increased his prominence, and critics further took note of the actor's ability.
The following year's period adventure The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) boasted a similarly fine lead performance by Caviezel, and though the film - and the actor's work - drew favorable reviews from critics, that motion picture failed to attract audiences. Before embarking on a blood-soaked revenge spree in Highwaymen (2004), Caviezel took a turn as a mysterious former Marine in High Crimes and a lower-key role in the Paul Feig drama I Am David.
Audiences who had followed Caviezel's career thus far had no doubt taken note of the actor's vocal religious convictions. With his role as Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ -- not to mention the actual suffering that he endured when his shoulder was separated during the crucifixion sequence -- the actor pushed to more extreme lengths than almost any performer of his generation. The story of the film is, by now, notorious; in time it became one of the highest grossers in movie history, capping $600 million worldwide, despite savaging critical assessments from many reviewers and accusations of anti-Semitism. Millions viewers flocked to the motion picture and turned it into one of the seminal moviegoing events of 2004, evi.
As the 2000's and 2010's rolled on, Caviezel continued to enjoy success as a bankable actor, enjoying success on the new frontier of modern TV with shows like the remake of The Prisoner and the drama Person of Interest