James Faulkner shares a few secrets and talks about his role as Paul
Actor James Faulkner says while filming Paul, Apostle of Christ “a spirit moved within me” and he “was moved by it.” Faulkner plays St. Paul in the March 2018 film that was released on Blu-ray/DVD June 19.
Faulkner discussed with Catholic Digest how playing St. Paul has changed him, how he would like to play more roles like this, about his favorite scene in the movie, and more. He also shared a secret about actor Jim Caviezel.
Q: I see on IMDB.com that you have four films in post-production and one in filming. When do you sleep?
A: I’m not on every day. That’s the great thing about playing a villain — the villain only works three days a week. The hero works every day; that’s the problem. For Paul, I was on pretty much every day.
Q: When you were getting ready for the role of Paul, I can imagine that you were trying to get into Paul’s head. Have you noticed if playing the role has changed you in any lasting way?
A: I would say, “Yes. Completely.” I hope I can hang on to a bit of Paul. It opened me up, made me a lot more patient, a lot more loving, and a lot more forgiving. I would hope to cling on to the major personality traits of Paul. I don’t want to go back to being a terrible, old authoritarian barking orders at people.
But guess what? Guess what I am playing now? A mad general. What does he do? Bark orders.
Q: When you play a bad character, does it impact you in negative ways?
A: Well, I have yet to kill anybody.
It does make you a little crazy. Currently, I am playing a character that’s not bad necessarily; he just has a different viewpoint, and he’s deeply eccentric. My wife — as you might well appreciate — sometimes finds herself having dinner with some very strange characters, indeed.
Q: What was it like for your wife to have dinner with you when you were playing Paul?
A: Oh, she loved having dinner with me when I was Paul. She couldn’t get enough of Paul. So many people are in love with Paul — who Paul was, what he did, and the sort of man he was.
That’s a huge privilege to play somebody like him. I had to have some of the patience and love of Paul rub off on me. To be imbued by his spirit was a wonderful experience.
Q: While playing the role, did you feel God working on you?
A: Something was working on me. A spirit moved within me — yes, it did. I was moved by it; I was transformed by it. I don’t know myself in the film. I look at pictures of myself in the role of Paul and the expression in his [my] eyes, and I don’t know that man. Something was going on.
Q: Jim Caviezel has a big Catholic fan base. Do you have any secrets or memorable stories to share about him?
A: Jim! The great thing about Jim is that when he goes off on one of his things, I can’t always follow him. He’s so much better versed than I am about the Catholic faith. I could always bring him down to earth because he’s a petrol head as am I. If you ever get lost in a Jim Caviezel conversation, just bring up cars — if you know about cars — and you’ll get the show on the road again.
Q: Thinking back on your favorite roles, does Paul make your top 10?
A: Oh, yes, very much so. I felt very fortunate to be cast as Paul to allow something of my better nature to peep through.
Not every role you play takes you over; not every role you play lets you into the character; not every role has writing that’s good enough to give you real insight into the humanity of the person you’re portraying.
Andrew Hyatt did a beautiful job with the script and as director. I think he only had to give me three notes throughout my entire shoot. He wrote me a long letter before we started shooting explaining what the secret was in playing Paul. I listened to Andrew, and he told me some great truths. The success of Paul — my portrayal of Paul — is owed to Andrew Hyatt.
Q: What did Hyatt say was the secret to playing Paul?
It was largely about Paul’s approach and his approach to other people. Paul is so at peace with his fellow man, but not at peace with himself. He was tortured by his earlier life but in no way would he convey that to those he encounters. Andrew gave me that. There’s no anger in Paul — that’s great when you’re probably an angry person like me.
Q: You’re an angry person?
Q: Was Paul one of the more difficult roles to play?
A: Not at all. I really didn’t have to think about it. I took a very simple approach. I had no choice because I had so little preparation time. I let the script — the personality of Paul — come through me.
It’s great when you can sit back enough — not put the usual checks and controls in the way that an actor might exercise — and just stand there open-minded, openhearted, and let the role speak to you. It’s a fantastic experience.
Q: What did your family and friends think of your portrayal of Paul?
A: My wife has seen it — loved it. My children have yet to see it. My agent hasn’t seen it. He’s very hard on me. I look forward to hearing what he has to say.
Q: What was your favorite scene in the movie?
A: Paul’s speech about love; it’s very important, that scene.
I also loved the ending when Paul’s at peace with Mauritius; he says his goodbyes to Luke, and then I read 2 Timothy over those montage shots. I defy anyone not to be moved by those last 10 minutes of the movie.