"Being placed in a much simpler environment, and feeling entirely supported by those around you, and loved by those around you, I found to be an extraordinary experience."
Conversion and forgiveness are major themes of "Paul, the Apostle of Christ," Caviezel said.
"The greatest controversy of this film is forgiving at all costs, and that doesn't mean weakness or the acceptance of evil. It means meeting evil face-to-face … that's the hardest thing," he said.
"Some of the most powerful dialogue centers around what true courage is," continued Caviezel, "Courage is ardent love. Love creates change by igniting a passion in each one of us. One person at a time."
The film is dedicated to the world's persecuted Christians. "We were writing this script through those heavy intense times with ISIS and the problems that are going on in Syria and the Middle East," executive producer Eric Groth told CNA. He said his team also reflected "on the martyrs of the centuries who have laid down their lives" in guiding the actors of the film.
"Paul, the Apostle of Christ" was written and directed by Andrew Hyatt, who previously directed the film, "Full of Grace," about the Virgin Mary's last days on earth. Both films were produced by the Catholic group ODB Films, in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment.
ODB Films says it is "dedicated to fostering an encounter with Christ through artfully made, spiritually rich films."
Groth told CNA he hopes that Catholics will reach out and invite friends to the film who are not familiar with the Biblical story.
"I want them to reach out and take someone who might be struggling in their life and go to see a non-cheesy, Christian film that looks at faith through a very human lens and through a very real lens."
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.