Actor Jim Caviezel will probably be known from now on as the star of Mel Gibson's blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ." Throughout that grueling film, Caviezel played the role of Jesus with strength, dignity, and grace.

Obviously, after portraying the Savior of the world, any other role is going to be something of a step down. But in his new movie, Caviezel once again gets to show many of the same qualities. He has the title role in "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius." Opening tomorrow, the film is about a man many consider the greatest golfer of all time.

According to early press accounts, what stands out about Bobby Jones in this movie is not so much his brilliance on the course as his strength of character. He struggles to overcome illness, the pressures of fame, and his own flaws, learning to choose selflessness over self-indulgence.

As Jones's biographer Sidney Matthew told the Washington Times, "Today, the very best sportsman can go home and kick the cat and beat his wife. We excuse that intolerable behavior because the person is a good athlete. With Bobby Jones, he was the genuine American hero. What you saw was what you got."

Jones's example inspired both his family and the filmmakers to resist giving his story the typical Hollywood treatment. According to producer Rick Eldridge, "The Jones family had turned down three deals [prior to this one] because they wanted to maintain the integrity of the story and the man." One movie studio, for example, suggested "spicing up" Jones's teenage friendship with a female golfer, since "boys will be boys." But the real Bobby Jones had higher standards, and his family and Rick Eldridge think that those make for a pretty good story in themselves.

Apparently, a lot of other people think so as well. Already "Bobby Jones" is getting positive word-of-mouth reviews as a movie that parents can enjoy with their kids.

It was Jones's character that caught Jim Caviezel's interest in the first place. He put it this way: "It's a great film for young people who are trying to find their way. Nowadays, sports stars and other celebrities say, 'I'm not your kid's role model.' It's an excuse to act however they want, to make huge amounts of money. But Bobby wasn't about that. He was a guy who embraced the idea [of being a good example], who said, 'Yes, I am a role model. I'll take that responsibility.' His pureness drew me to him."

As a devout Catholic in Hollywood, Caviezel knows something about the temptations that come with fame, and that's another reason Jones appeals to him. He explains, "God says what you do in private is who you are." And besides, he jokes, "At the end of my life, I want to meet Bobby Jones and say, 'Hey, let's play golf.'"

It's amazing how, generations after he lived, one man's efforts to live a life of excellence, both on and off the golf course, can inspire so many different people. The integrity that went into the making of this film is a tribute to the integrity of its subject, and good news for audiences in sore need of such good examples.


Copyright (c) 2004 Prison Fellowship.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

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