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Is Mel Gibson Really Planning a ‘Passion of the Christ’ Sequel? — A RELEVANT Investigation

Back in September of 2020, actor Jim Caviezel raised a startling claim: Jesus was coming back, to a theater near you. Yes, in an interview with notorious far-right conspiracy rag Brietbart, Caviezel said a sequel to Mel Gibson’s 2004 mega-hit The Passion of the Christ was in the works. In fact, he said, it was well on its way.

“Mel Gibson just sent me the third picture, the third draft. It’s coming,” Caviezel claimed. “It’s called The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection. It’s going to be the biggest film in world history.”

Caviezel has teased the existence of The Passion 2: Passion Reloaded several times, always promising it was going to be a Big Deal. There’s just one question: Is this movie really happening?

Let’s take a look at the facts.

First things first, there is plenty of evidence that a lot of people at least want this to happen. There’s an IMDb page with a few attached actors. Caviezel has discussed it plenty of times before, including a conversation with Fox News in March of 2020 where he said he had just received the “fifth draft,” which would seem to contradict his September statement about just reading a third draft but whatever. “It’s going to be a masterpiece,” Caviezel told Fox, with the bombast that has become his running theme. “It’s gonna be the biggest film in world history, I believe it will be based on what I feel in my heart.”

Well, Caviezel’s heart aside, he’s not the only one who has discussed this. Gibson has waxed on it very publicly for years.

In 2016, Gibson told USA Today that he was trying to find a way to make a movie about the resurrection interesting, which apparently would entail more than three days of everyone waiting for Jesus to show up again. “The Resurrection. Big subject. Oh, my God,” he said. “We’re trying to craft this in a way that’s cinematically compelling and enlightening so that it shines new light, if possible, without creating some weird thing.”

Then in 2018, Gibson sat down with author and Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo where he spoke openly about the idea of a cosmic sequel to The Passion, which would focus far more on the supernatural events taking place in realms beyond our own during the time between Jesus’ bodily death and resurrection. “It’s a tall order,” Gibson admits. “It’s a vast theological experience …it gets pretty wild. It’s an acid trip.” Well, that does sound like a cinematic experience but as you watch the clip, it’s not hard to pick up on an air of evasiveness in Gibson’s responses about how definite this thing is.

“How close are you?” Arroyo asks, referencing the alleged existence of the same script Caviezel mentioned, which he believes Gibson is writing with his Braveheart collaborator Randall Wallace.

“It’s the never ending …it keeps revealing itself more and more the further you get into it,” Gibson responds. “Everything from the fall of the angels to, you know, it’s just crazy. It opens up all these channels.”

Around the same time, Gibson appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, where Colbert asked him about the movie. In that conversation, Gibson was similarly noncommittal. “It’s probably about three years off,” he said. “Because it’s a big subject.”

Colbert pushes a little further, and Gibson again vaguely references the cosmic happenings in Heaven and Hell following Christ’s death. Many strands of Christian tradition hold that following his crucifixion, Jesus descended into Hell for a showdown with the devil, which might be the subject of Gibson’s expansive (and expensive) vision.

“So you would actually do a little Inferno?” Colbert asks, referencing Dante’s poem on the subject, and this is where we get our first real tell as to the state of the script’s development at that time.

“I’m not sure,” Gibson responds. “But it’s worth thinking about isn’t it?”

Hmmmm.

So, from all this, we can pick up a few clues. As of 2016, Gibson was being asked about a script for a Passion sequel and while he was happy to publicly brainstorm about the scope, things sound emphatically loose.

All was quiet on The Passion 2 front for two years until USA Today interviewed Caviezel in 2018, who promised box office history. “I won’t tell you how [Gibson] is going to go about it,” Caviezel said. “But I’ll tell you this much: The film he’s going to do is going to be the biggest film in history. It’s that good.” At the time, Caviezel was playing the Apostle Luke in Paul, Apostle of Christ, possibly creating a bit of confusion in the New Testament Cinematic Universe.

That all sounds pretty good, but another telling detail emerges over the course of this interview. Caviezel told USA Today that Gibson had “cracked” the story and even revealed that they had set a tentative date to start shooting the movie. But when USA Today asked Caviezel to tell them what that date is, he declined.

Hmmmm.

Then in 2020, Randall Wallace spoke to Movieweb about the purported script which, as is becoming a pattern here, seems to both exist and not exist — a subject of great interest but very few concrete details. “It’s something we talk about a lot,” Wallace said. “My major in college was religion, and I did a year seminary afterward. My major focus of study was the resurrection. That is the Mount Everest of movies and we are in discussions about it a lot. It’s a highly-charged one, so we keep our cards close to our chest.”

Hmmm.

At this point, two separate but related narratives become important, and they involve some tabloid details around Gibson and Caviezel’s respective lives.

First up, Gibson’s long history of racist and antisemitic comments finally caught up to him, first in 2006 and then again in 2010 when a recording of a racist and abusive rant towards his then-girlfriend leaked to the press. Gibson hit his girlfriend and told her she deserved it. The details were shocking enough that even the pre-Me Too film industry largely avoided Gibson for nearly 10 years, although his career has started to thaw more recently. He even received several Oscar nominations for Hacksaw Ridge and co-stars with Mark Wahlberg in the upcoming Father Stu.

In the same Colbert interview referenced above, Colbert pushed Gibson for an apology, some remorse, any sign of reflection that Gibson had repented of the things he’d said and done, but that wasn’t exactly forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Caviezel has become a very public advocate for the QAnon conspiracy theory. Last October, he appeared at a QAnon-linked conference in Las Vegas, promising that “the storm” was coming and propping up the belief that a Satanic cabal of cannibals are operating at the highest levels of the U.S. Government. He has even talked about adrenochrome, a fringe, antisemitic conspiracy about blood-harvesting that has proven to be a bridge too far for even many of the Q faithful.

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So what does any of that have to do with a Passion of the Christ sequel? Well, it’s important to this investigation. For starters, it casts a little cold water on Caviezel’s trustworthiness. But more to the point, Hollywood loves a good sequel, and Passion of the Christ did record numbers when it released. But a cosmic exploration of Heaven and Hell isn’t cheap and film executives would definitely weigh the risk of a multi-million dollar gambit against the uneasiness and press that will almost certainly come from linking up with two messy individuals. In short, any actual evidence of a Passion sequel must be weighed against these realities.

One last curious piece of evidence. In November, the University of Edinburgh’s Professor Helen Bond announced a forthcoming book available for pre-order titled The Gospel According to Mel Gibson: Fact, Faith and Fantasy in The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection. That book, which will reportedly publish in June of 2023, will “cut through the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson’s new movie about the resurrection of Jesus and his journey through Hell,” according to the publisher.

But both Bond and Gibson have clarified that despite its name, the book is not officially associated with the movie. Express reports that Bond was asked by a publisher to “write a response upon the film’s release, whenever that may be in the future, and that 2023 doesn’t necessarily reflect when the actual cinematic debut is since there has been no official announcement.”

Gibson’s team echoed that statement, saying that they “know nothing of this book and [it] has nothing to do with any upcoming project. No updates [on Passion of the Christ 2]. Still in the development stage.”

Hmmmmmm.

So, what do we know?

We have two principal players here. Mel Gibson, who has a lot of ideas about this sequel but is shy on actual details. Jim Caviezel, who keeps talking about what a big deal this movie is going to be.

And then we have two side characters. Helen Bond, who was asked to write a response to a movie that does not yet exist. And Randall Wallace, who says he has talked about it a lot.

The lack of evidence of this movie isn’t proof that it doesn’t exist. For all we know, Gibson and Caviezel could be in the desert as we speak (or, more likely, in front of a green screen). But for all the breathless announcements of a coming Resurrection, there appears to be very little actual news. Maybe we’ll all be shocked tomorrow with the release of a new trailer. Maybe the whole movie will surprise drop onto Netflix next week. But until we see some real forward motion, there’s no reason to get too excited. We may not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ actual second coming, but we don’t even have proof of pre-production for the cinematic version.

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