Parents of actor portraying Jesus in controversial film met in Q-C

2004-02-21T00:00:00Z Parents of actor portraying Jesus in controversial film met in Q-C The Quad-City Times
February 21, 2004 12:00 am

David Burke

Dr. James Caviezel knows he and his wife, Maggie, will be seen in a whole new light as of Wednesday.

"What a responsibility for us," he said from his chiropractic office in Mount Vernon, Wash., "because we're Jesus' parents."

Their son, actor Jim Caviezel, plays Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ," which opens Wednesday in theaters nationwide.

Maggie Lavery Caviezel was born in Geneseo, Ill., and grew up in Moline. A former Miss Moline beauty pageant winner, she met chiropractic student Caviezel at a cast party after one of her performances at Black Hawk College.

"She was a knockout. Knocked me off my feet," he recalled.

They married 38 years ago this month and moved to the Pacific Northwest, closer to the newly graduated Palmer College of Chiropractic student's hometown of Tacoma.

Caviezel said he and his wife were "kind of shocked" to hear two years ago that Jim — the second-oldest of their five children — had been cast as Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's drama about the days leading up to the crucifixion. Jim Caviezel, 35, already had lead acting credits in 20 movies, including "Frequency," "High Crimes," "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "The Thin Red Line."

But the couple knew the religious preparation they had given their five children would help him in his new role.

"We're real strong in our faith, the Catholic faith, and that's been one of the anchors for Jim, too," Dr. Caviezel said. "All the kids grew up that way, to know it's God first and family second and business third."

Playing Christ, Caviezel went through some actual torture in the scenes on the cross, including a dislocated shoulder, gashing wounds and even being struck by lightning during filming. His parents learned about all of it secondhand, either from news stories or their son's four siblings.

"He doesn't talk shop so much, but we get wind of it, especially when he calls his brother," Dr. Caviezel said. "He tells a lot of that to him."

Controversy has surrounded the movie, and the Caviezels are taking it in stride.

"I think it's good to have controversy. It brings more interest to it," Dr. Caviezel said. "But it's also upsetting when you hear about things that are anti-Semitic. Of course, it's not based on that in any way, shape or form."

Entertainment and the arts runs in the family for the Caviezels. Maggie was chosen to Black Hawk's theater hall of fame, and her brother, Mike Lavery — who now runs a sheltered-care home in Milan, Ill. — worked in the makeup department for Paramount Pictures.

Likewise, chiropractic runs in the family. The Caviezels'  youngest daughter, Erin, is a student at Palmer in Davenport.

"We'll get her in here to help me out," said Dr. Caviezel, who has two partners in his practice.

A former guard on one of Coach John Wooden's UCLA basketball teams, he got relief from back problems through chiropractic procedures.

"A chiropractor helped me, so that's how I decided to switch careers and go chiropractic," he said.

Four of the Caviezels' five children, all but Jim, played NCAA Division I or II basketball, Mike Lavery said.

The Caviezels say they are proud of their acting son's accomplishments, but they want him to remain humble.

"His dad keeps him grounded," Maggie said.

"He's got his mom's talent, that's for sure," Dr. Caviezel said.

David Burke can be contacted at (563) 383-2400 or dburke@qctimes.com.

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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