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He played Barabbas to Jim Caviezel’s Christ, and the encounter changed his life

Anyone who has seen Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ remembers that terrible moment during Jesus’ trial before Pilate when the crowd chooses to free Barabbas instead of Jesus. We look at the bloody, bruised and broken face of Christ, which even in that condition radiates calm, peace, and beauty, and compare it to the vulgar and ugly face of Barabbas, a convicted murderer, full of defiance, vice, and Joker-like mania.

It’s an exaggeration, but it’s highly effective to convey the irrationality of the crowd’s choice. Yet even as Barabbas in the film is freed from his bonds, he meets Jesus’ eyes and stops for a moment, pierced by that gaze, before descending the stairs to the crowd.

They’re just actors in a scripted scene: Jim Caviezel in the role of Jesus, and Italian actor Pietro Sarubbi in the role of Barabbas (both wearing abundant makeup; Sarubbi is almost unrecognizable when seen outside of that role). But making the film was a transformative experience for both actors. Caviezel’s testimony has been widely shared and discussed, but Sarubbi was just as affected, despite spending just a few minutes on screen.

Here is the testimony of this actor and university professor, as he shared it with Aleteia:

Today I’m a 58-year-old man. To tell the truth, I should say 59, but I’m not taking this year, 2020, into account because I haven’t really used it. I’m an actor and also a man who tries to live up to the Christian experience I have, and that requires a great effort in this world which is increasingly difficult to understand, and increasingly disenchanted with beauty.

Read more at Aleteia

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