- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2000


In "Frequency," Gregory Hoblit's new time-travel thriller, Jim Caviezel plays John Sullivan, a young cop whose father was killed in a fire 30 years earlier.

Everything changes when a spectacular storm allows father and son to communicate by ham radio through time. Sullivan is able to warn his father about the mistake that cost him his life. Saving his father's life alters events leading from 1969 to 1999, with tragic consequences.

Mr. Caviezel, 31, is so thoroughly believable as Sullivan that it takes a moment to adjust to the notion that the soft-spoken actor with the gentle drawl is the same person who plays New York City firefighter Dennis Quaid's son in the film.

On this day, there is no trace of the fiery, tormented Sullivan in Mr. Caviezel (pronounced Kuh-vee-zuhl). Even his features seem different: softer, less angular. He is gracious and polite, and his manner is quiet and understated.

A native of rural Washington state, Mr. Caviezel wanted to be a pro basketball player. After suffering a foot injury, he took the discipline and the ability to endure failure that he had learned in basketball "I never had the talent to play the game at all" and applied it to acting.

His uncanny ability to mimic other people also helps.

The character of John Sullivan grew up in Queens, N.Y., which meant Mr. Caviezel had to learn to speak with a Queens accent.

"That was probably the most nerve-racking part of (making the film). 'Can I get it? Do I have enough time?' 'Cause I only had like two weeks before the film started to absorb it, and luckily because of my experience of impersonating people, I was able to acquire that skill," he says.

His acting career began with a small part in the 1991 film "My Own Private Idaho." (He landed the role of an airline clerk by fooling casting agents into believing he was a recent Italian immigrant.) He appeared in a handful of other films, including "Diggstown," "Wyatt Earp," "The Rock" and "G.I. Jane" before winning critical acclaim in Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line."

He recently appeared in Ang Lee's "Ride With the Devil." His upcoming films include "Madison," a true story about the economically depressed community of Madison, Ind., and the town's desire to win a Gold Cup hydroplane race.

Q: Did you always have the acting bug?

A: No. Never had it. I did voice impersonations growin' up, but all I did was play basketball. That's what my goal was. Then I tore my foot up.

Q: You were very serious about basketball, weren't you?

A: I wanted to play in the NBA so bad. I went to camps all summer long. I was always seen with a basketball. My fingers were always cut up 'cause of the wear of the ball on my fingers during the hot summer days of playing on the pavement. My whole room was completely covered in sports, everything.

Q: Why do you compare your upcoming film "Madison" to the basketball film "Hoosiers"?

A: It's like 'Hoosiers' on water is what it is… . It's about the Gold Cup race and this guy, what he was willing to sacrifice, and this town, they supported their own boat and they still do. They compete against … Budweiser, all the big companies, and this town scratches money together and puts their boat on the circuit.

Q: What were your feelings when you saw "Frequency" for the first time?

A: I was proud of the film. I just love the film… . It's got so many things that you can relate to… . It's your love for something and what you are willing to do in that moment to save that person's life or speak your mind about something and not quitting, and so I recognize that in John Sullivan, and how much that I love my own father and mother.

Q: What drew you to the film?

A: What drew me to the 'Frequency' script was the father-son story… . I'm very close to my dad… . And that was carried through in the film. In the scenes where I'm talking to my father, there was nothing written in there that said, 'OK, John Sullivan gets very emotional here.' It just happened, which gave a real quality to the story.

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