Jim Caviezel, best known for playing Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and his starring role in CBS’ Person of Interest, made people do a double take when he appeared at a right-wing conference in April to promote his forthcoming anti-child trafficking movie.
It wasn’t entirely shocking that Caviezel was at the Health and Freedom Conference, which was attended by former President Donald Trump’s usual posse, including the conspiracy theory-loving trio of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, attorney Lin Wood, and former Trump lawyer Sidney “release the Kraken” Powell. The actor has proudly been one of few outspoken conservative Christians in Hollywood, counting Steve Bannon as a good friend and often closing out interviews by reciting one of Ronald Reagan’s speeches.
But while talking about his new movie Sound of Freedom, Caviezel went on a wild tangent about a QAnon conspiracy theory called “adrenochroming.” The event’s 4,500-strong crowd had a decent showing of raised hands when asked if they were familiar with the term. Essentially, it’s an insane theory rooted in anti-Semitism (and the Pixar film Monsters, Inc.) that liberal elites and members of Hollywood are secretly killing children in order to harvest adrenochrome from their blood for psychedelic experiences, satanic rituals, and even to extend their lifespan.
Here’s how Caviezel explained it. “I’ll just simplify it,” he began. “When you are scared, you produce adrenaline. You’re an athlete, you get in the fourth quarter, you have adrenaline that comes out. If a child knows he’s going to die, his body will secrete this adrenaline. They have a lot of terms that they use that [Tim Ballard] takes me through, but it’s the worst horror I’ve ever seen. The screaming alone, even if I’d never, ever, ever, ever saw it, it’s beyond.”
“These people that do it,” he paused, seeming to hold back tears. “There’ll be no mercy for them.”
The crowd burst into applause.
So how did Caviezel wind up getting sucked into one of the more fringe conspiracy theories of QAnon? Normally, it’d be easy to track a person’s fall down the rabbit hole of QAnon, starting with their social media behavior, which often involves sharing questionable posts from questionable profiles on Facebook and Twitter.
However, Caviezel doesn’t have a very active presence online, apart from his Instagram account that he started in September 2020. Describing the page as his only social media account, he has a sprinkling of posts that include some behind-the-scenes moments at work and photos of scripture. There did seem to be a convincingly real Twitter account belonging to Caviezel that went inactive right when he started his Instagram, which posted about his upcoming projects, praise for Mel Gibson, support of Donald Trump, and dozens of tweets about being pro-life.
But it seems that Caviezel could have been brought into the QAnon fold through working on his new movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on the life story of Tim Ballard, who runs the controversial anti-child sex trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad (OUR). Ballard handpicked Caviezel to play him in the movie, explaining that he was moved by his performances in The Passion of the Christ and The Count of Monte Cristo.
Caviezel did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
Ballard claims his decade in the U.S. government included a stint as a CIA agent and as an undercover agent with Homeland Security; he was later tapped by Trump to be a council member of the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking. He spouts off unverified statistics about child trafficking, some of which were repeated by Trump while he was in office.
Ballard’s group OUR frequently finds itself entangled with QAnon conspiracy theorists, sometimes by Ballard’s own doing. Last summer, when a since-debunked claim that online furniture retailer Wayfair was secretly promoting the sale of children through its site, Ballard seemed to give credence to the claim, reportedly talking about it at a QAnon-heavy conference and on social media.
“With or without Wayfair, child trafficking is real and happening,” he said in a video message. “This is not a small thing or a conspiracy theory, this is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. The children need us.” Ballard did not return The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
That last phrase is a familiar rallying cry for QAnoners, who are often lured into the web of deep state rumors and promises of armed uprisings by claims of a global child sex trafficking ring filled with billionaires, powerful politicians, and members of Hollywood.
The slogans #savethechildren and #saveourchildren have become so associated with the QAnon community that when Trump incited a mob to storm the Capitol on January 6th, several insurrectionists carried signs with variations of the phrases, including “Protect the Children'' and "The Children Cry Out for Justice.” In an attempt to stop the spread of disinformation, Facebook has tried to redirect users from the hashtags, instead providing links to reputable groups that work to stop child sexual exploitation. OUR is not among the organizations listed.
So it’s no surprise that when Ballard was mentioned several times by Caviezel during his address to the ultra-right-wing conference, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause, already familiar with his work. And when Caviezel suggested that he learned about “adrenochroming” from Ballard, the concept was not new to them.
When video of Caviezel’s remarks posted to YouTube, the comments were flooded with talk of “save the children,” declarations of how the “evil Satanic cult will be defeated by the Lord,” and how many believe that “this is common in the dark backrooms of the elite.”
Sound of Freedom seems to have leaned into its QAnon fanbase, using both #freethechildren and #savethechildren in its promotional marketing, with fans responding in kind. At a screening for the movie, Caviezel was photographed with former heavyweight boxer David Niño Rodriguez, who has turned into a vocal QAnon supporter and, as of May, still believes a “Trump revival is coming.”
Last May, he was on a podcast talking about pizzagate and adrenochrome, saying “they traumatize the kid until you fucking can’t pull out any more adrenaline and then they kill him.”
“They drink that shit up,” he added. “It’s a fucking fact bro, everyone knows it. I’m confident to say, ‘Yeah it’s happening.’ All the most powerful people in the world are doing it, you got to remember the elite control shit and they only bring in like minds. So, I don’t have names, I just know this.”
Caviezel also claims that Hollywood doesn’t want a film about the evils of child trafficking, resulting in Sound of Freedom’s delayed release, even though many films’ release dates were pushed due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Obviously you understand the content of this, once the world sees this film, once they see the ships that they transport the children in, all that stuff…,” he told the conference. “There’s no other film like this. Our industry can’t make this film right now because a lot of people who are involved in this all over the world, many of these people are very famous.”
“So, in the fourth quarter, that’s when we hope [the movie will come out],” he added. “We are going to need your prayers.”
Caviezel has long believed he’s up against the forces of Hollywood given his religious beliefs, even claiming that taking the role of Jesus in 2004’s The Passion of the Christ made him a pariah in the industry. Yet he managed to land roles throughout the years, including on CBS’ primetime crime drama Person of Interest in 2011, playing the character of John Reese alongside Michael Emerson and Taraji P. Henson.
His time on the show and his connection to QAnon was explored at length in the popular podcast QAnon Anonymous earlier this month, as hosts Julian Feeld, Travis View, and Jack Rockatanksy devoted a whole episode to Caviezel, with featured guest Dave Anthony.
Feeld spoke with three anonymous people who worked on Person of Interest with Caviezel who described numerous instances of bizarre behavior from the actor, with the men later summing him up toward the end of the 80-minute episode as “perfect for QAnon!”
They said he was “profoundly consumed by a jumble of bizarre religious, military and nationalistic fixations,” initially refusing to participate in an episode where he had to rescue a same-sex couple because it went against his morals. “All of them told me they felt Caviezel was homophobic and believed members of the LGBTQ community were going to hell,” the sources claimed.
Another claim was that Caviezel would often make snap judgements of what someone’s ethnicity and race was based on their skin color or appearance, then mimic the language he believed they spoke. He allegedly bowed to an Asian executive and attempted to speak in Chinese to him, later waving off concern because he had adopted two Chinese children.
The sources claimed that he would talk in a “blaccent” when around Black crew members and later refused to let his character have a romantic relationship on screen with his Black female co-star because “people shouldn’t have interracial relationships.”
He allegedly had an “obsession with identifying Jewish people that was accompanied by a pretty clear hatred for Islam,” and the source said he once walked up to a demonstration where people were planning to burn the Quran in Washington, D.C, and allegedly said, “I know Islam, Islam is evil all the men want Sharia [law].”
The sources also mention how Sound of Freedom director Alejandro Monteverde is also a devout Catholic and, like Caviezel, anti-abortion. Caviezel has been very vocal about his pro-life stance, saying in 2010 that he regards it as the “greatest moral defect of the western world.” Discussing how Attila the Hun “raised the bar to another level” when he began killing women and children during wars, he said “abortion goes much further.”
“When the mother herself kills her son she goes against her own nature, against her own instinct,” he said. “People talk about ‘choice,’ but when a woman does that, when she destroys the life of her unborn child, then we have arrived at the limit. The level cannot go higher regarding evil.”
Speaking to a church congregation in 2014, he spoke about abortion at length, telling the crowd, “Some of you had abortions. Some men and women are adulterers. Some have committed murder. Some of you didn’t have the abortion but you paid for it, so you have contributed to this. Many people are a part of this great sin in this country.”
QAnon expert Jack Bratich, an associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers, explained to The Daily Beast how it can often be a slippery slope into QAnon for those who believe they are trying to protect the unborn and vulnerable children when their belief is rooted in religion, because they are sometimes already predisposed to believe that those who think otherwise are evil.
“In 2020, when you started seeing that kind of Save the Children hashtag, almost more prominent than QAnon, it was kind of a gateway. You would have these protests for Save the Children and a lot of people would want to ‘save the children,’ right? So, they would show up to these protests or watch a video, and then the more extreme components of QAnon would enter, like adrenochrome and a satanic pedophile ring at the highest levels of government in Hollywood.”
“They’re not just predisposed to save children or even save fetuses, but they think there’s a vast enemy that’s out to destroy children. If they already have that kind of framework, that people who are pro-choice are actually evil, that it’s not just a policy matter that they’re actually evil, then it’s a pretty easy slide to go there when it comes to child trafficking and cannibalism.”
A recent poll found that roughly one quarter of Republicans believe in some form of the QAnon conspiracy, while QAnon is now as popular in the U.S. as some major religions.
Currently, Sound of Freedom does not have an official release date. Its Instagram account has not posted since last September. It appears some of the movie’s producers are still working to get it distributed on a larger scale, hosting small word-of-mouth screenings around the country, most recently in Houston. Ballard appeared to announce a firmer premiere date in April, claiming it would be coming out in the fall of 2021, but the post has since been taken down.