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Scripture is ‘the only source material’ for new film about St. Paul

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

Update: “Paul, Apostle of Christ” has subsequently been rated PG. The film will be released on March 28, 2018.

HOLLYWOOD, January 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The upcoming movie about St. Paul of Tarsus, featuring famed Passion of the Christ actor Jim Caviezel as St. Luke, won’t disappoint Christian filmgoers looking for both a well-financed film and an accurate portrayal of St. Paul’s life.

Paul, Apostle of Christ is being produced by Sony Pictures’ “Affirm Films” label. Moreover, writer-director Andrew Hyatt, 35, states in an early advertisement for the film that the only source material was Christian Scripture.

“Always the first step [in creating a biblically based screenplay]...is study Scripture. We just stay with Scripture as the only source material. And then when we start to bring the humanity side of it, it just comes very naturally because we’ve done all the research and we’ve gotten all the experts to sign off.”

One example of the film’s fidelity to Scripture is the prominence of St. Luke in the film.

“Well, in 2 Timothy when Paul is writing from the Mamertine prison, there’s this tiny little bit right at the top of the letter that says ‘Only Luke is here with me.’ And so it just starts to build this beautiful palette that is 100% scripturally accurate. You are filling in the details, but it’s all there.”

St. Paul will be played by “Game of Thrones” star James Faulkner.

Caviezel, a devout Roman Catholic, sometimes displays a Pauline missionary zeal.

In the film’s first trailer, Caviezel sits in costume beside James Faulkner, who plays Paul, and considers the saint’s famous name-change.

"The name Saul means great one, and Paul, the name, just by one change of a letter, means little one,” he says. "In order for us to be great in the eyes of God, we have to become very small."

In December Caviezel discussed the new film with National Catholic Register and explained how he prepared to play St. Luke: “I read the Acts of the Apostles and started lifting little clues [about him] here and there, and I went to Mass and prayed on them. And then we see how he wrote, how Paul sees [Luke], and I started cross-examining him — and there is a lot of cross-examining and asking him about it — and, slowly, it starts to all come together.”

Caviezel drew upon St. Luke’s former life to create a backstory in his mind.  

“I think one part of it is that he was a physician, and he had this particular lifestyle,” Caviezel told the Register. “He was wealthy, and he left it all. Why? He saw Paul speak. Was it Paul who spoke, or was it Christ speaking through him? I believe it was the latter, and that changed his life. So that’s kind of where I started.”

The film focuses on Paul as an old man awaiting execution in a Roman prison, dictating letters that Luke transcribes and smuggles out to the fledgling Christian communities.  “It will be a very beautiful, emotionally moving film, with a rather wonderful ending,” star James Faulkner says in the promotional spot. “ And redemption is offered and is clear.”

Caviezel told the Register that he expected Paul, Apostle of Christ to have an “R” rating because it shows some of the brutality the Romans visited upon Christian believers.

The Passion of the Christ, which was released in 2004, also had an “R” rating, thanks to the faithful depiction of the harsh realities of life in the Roman Empire.  The Passion is currently the fifth-highest grossing “R” film in Hollywood history. It was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Paul, Apostle of Christ will be released in cinemas on Wednesday of Holy Week, March 28, 2018.

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