Andrew Hyatt on Making 'Paul Apostle of Christ' & Why he Walked Away from Faith for 7 Years - Hope 103.2

Andrew Hyatt on Making ‘Paul Apostle of Christ’ & Why he Walked Away from Faith for 7 Years

It can hard for a modern audience though to imagine how tenacious the first Christians had to be living under Roman rule, and how Paul struggled with his past. The new film 'Paul Apostle of Christ' attempts to bring the story to life.

By Clare BruceTuesday 27 Mar 2018Hope AfternoonsMoviesReading Time: 4 minutes

Listen: Paul Apostle of Christ writer and director Andrew Hyatt chats to Laura Bennett. Above: James Faulkner (Game of Thrones) as Paul, and Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) as Luke.

Having written almost two thirds of the New Testament, a lot of Paul’s words are favourites in the Christian community.

His experience and that of the early church frame our faith around the world, and are foundational to the gospel message we share today.

It can hard for a modern audience though to imagine how tenacious the first Christians had to be to see Christ’s gospel message shared, and what is was like to live under Roman rule. Hitting cinemas March 29, Paul Apostle of Christ attempts to bring Paul’s journey to life.

Starring Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Frequency) as Luke, and James Faulkner (X Men: First Class, Games of Thrones), Paul Apostle of Christ is the story of two men railing against a determined empire in order to live out Jesus’ Gospel and spread their message to the world. Luke risks his life to visit Paul and document his life and teachings, recording the beginnings of the early church. Sitting with Paul in a bleak prison cell, Luke finds that although Paul has survived so much, including shipwreck, being flogged, and starvation, he still struggles internally with the shadows of his past life.

Paul , in Paul Apostle of Christ

Above: Paul the apostle is played by James Faulkner

Paul’s Story a Journey of Redemption

Writer and director Andrew Hyatt resonated with Paul’s experience of redemption, saying it mirrors a lot of our own.

“I grew up in the church… then when I got to college I looked around and saw this brand new world of partying and drinking and drugs and girls, and asked myself, ‘Does my faith tradition have anything to say to this?’ – and unfortunately it didn’t strike me as very relevant,” Andrew said. “I ended up walking away from the faith for about 7 years.”

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“I realised I’d never had [my own] true encounter with Christ. You know, I did all the right things – I was catechised and baptised and all that stuff – but I never really had a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that flipped everything on its head and suddenly it [became] the most relevant thing.”

The sincerity of the faith of the early Christians, and the persecution involved in getting the gospel message ‘off the ground’ around the world is an aspect of the film Hyatt didn’t want to gloss over.

“I don’t know that we really stop and think about the context in which these first century Christians were living”

Looking into Paul’s history, and the life of characters like Pricilla and Aquila, Hyatt said,  “I think we all hear these stories over and over… but I don’t know that we really stop and think about the context in which these first century Christians were living; being persecuted and in this incredibly violent time in Rome and around the world. It really made me want to consider Paul’s words again, and consider the actions of the first century church: how could you love people?

“How could you go to these communities and take care of people when all around you were being persecuted? It’s a pretty impactful thing.”

A Roman soldier in the movie Paul Apostle of Christ

Above: A Roman soldier speaks to Paul.

The Return of Jim Caviezel

For audiences who’ve seen The Passion of the Christ, Jim Caviezel’s return to Bible-based films is also refreshing (if not mind-bending), as ‘Jesus’ is now playing one of his followers.

“It’s a step down for him as you can imagine,” Andrew jests, “but Jim’s great… and as he will say he was very discerning in [taking another Bible film]. He felt like [in] Passion he really put it all out there. But when he came across this script he loved the humanity in it. He loved that he could bring Luke to the screen with a real humour and humanity that’s not par for the course in a lot of Bible films.”

Taking us into the human element of Paul and Luke, is one of this film’s strengths.

Having been a persecutor of Christians himself, Paul is wrestling with what he’d done in his past, and the consequences of his sin. Hyatt says he hopes this portrayal encourages viewers.

“When you come to Christ it’s not like God suddenly brainwashes you and says, ‘That’s great, I want you to never remember anything you’ve ever done, I’m going to handle that’,” Andrew said.

“Instead I think we all have pasts that we continuously still have deep wounds [from], but [we can] take those to Christ and say, ‘Keep healing me from this. I know I’m forgiven, I know I’m loved, but I’m still human and I struggle with these things’.”