The Christian Broadcasting Network

The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Holly McClure

Movie critic-14 years for newspapers,, and

Radio Host: Holly on Hollywood

Media: CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC, Politically Incorrect, The Montel Williams Show

Member: Broadcast Film Critics Assoc., SAG, AFTRA, Parents Television Council

Adjunct Prof., Biola Univ., Azusa Pacific Univ., UCLA


Holly McClure: Behind the Scenes of 'The Passion'

By The 700 Club

CBN.comCan You Take a Meeting?

In August 2002, Mel Gibson called Holly and asked her to come in for a meeting. During the course of the meeting, Mel gave Holly a script and asked her to read it and give him an opinion. As a result of this open door, Holly was able to be a part of some specific development steps of The Passion. One significant contribution was that Holly told Mel that though Mary Magdalene was present at the cross scenes, the audience really had no introduction to her. For the unchurched, she may not be a known character. Holly suggested a flashback scene to the adulterous woman whom Jesus forgave. Though scholars debate whether that woman could have been Mary Magdalene, Mel and his producers felt that dramatic license to introduce Mary Magdalene as the adulterous woman was a valuable addition to the script.

When Mel was wrestling with the anti-Semitism attacks on his project, Holly challenged him firmly to fight. "Fight -- that’s what you should do!" She reminded him that he was chosen People’s Choice Actor of the Year in this year when he wasn’t even in a film release. She told him people love him and would listen and rally around him. His producer agreed saying, "We can go on The Bill O’Reilly Show. Let’s do it."

Holly believes she made another valuable contribution in the form of encouragement to Mel in moments when he doubted himself and the vision. She encouraged him, "This may have been your project to start with eight-and-a-half years ago, but this project will be beyond you when it is completed." Holly thinks that the Church will adopt the project as a most effective tool for evangelism. Because the movie is totally in Aramaic and Latin, it is truly an international film. It is not Americanized. You don’t hear accents or stilted translations. And Holly points out that many Muslims can understand Aramaic, so they will hear the gospel in a compelling way.

Holly says she feels like Esther. Her life and professional experiences have all brought her to this place "for such a time as this." All her career successes positioned her to be ready to work on a project with the scope of The Passion of The Christ, and all her personal life experiences, tempered and sharpened by the love of God, put her spiritually in a position to participate.

Behind the Scenes for All to See

Holly has produced a behind-the-scenes special in two versions for The Passion of The Christ. The projects are 15 minutes and 45 minutes in length. The shorter version is for church and religious organizations. The longer is in documentary form and is prepared for the secular market. Holly spent a month on location in Italy filming the two projects. A high point for her was to sit in the dailies and listen to Mel as he viewed his own work. She saw the delight when things worked and the creative re-thinking when something needed to be fixed.

The 45-minute program will air on TBN and PAX and will be a premium included in The Passion of The Christ DVD for sale after the theatrical run.

A Very Violent Passion

Holly says Mel's movie about the last hours in the life of Jesus Christ is his riskiest yet. Mel has played a series of fervent men. William Wallace in Braveheart had a passion for freedom that revolutionized Scotland. Benjamin Martin in The Patriot heroically defended his family and the rights of Americans to live freely. Lt. Col. Hal Moore in We Were Soldiers was fiercely dedicated to bringing every soldier home from Vietnam. Even Rocky Rhodes, his Claymation rooster in Chicken Run, was desperate to free his flightless flock. But this latest project promises to be the most urgent and heartfelt and the riskiest of them all.

In Holly’s review of the film she tells audiences how Mel achieved realistic looking beating scenes and how Jim Caviezel endured 15 days of "on the cross" shooting. She quotes Jim as saying some moviegoers won’t be able to endure the crucifixion scene and will even leave the theatre, but for those who stay, it will be a life changing experience. Holly tells how she watched people in Italy come up to Jim (in his Jesus wardrobe) and bow at his feet and touch the hem of his robes. Jim would admonish them to stop, and they would say, "But you are Jesus." Jim says he felt as though he actually went through some of what Jesus experienced because people couldn’t accept him for who he was, just a man. People couldn’t accept Jesus who was the Son of God. These experiences profoundly pointed out to Jim his own humanness.

Passionate Reaction

When asked what she believes Hollywood's reaction will be, Holly says it will be mixed. Already scripts are pouring in to Mel and his producers by the thousands. Many of these are from people who claim to be believers and are convinced Mel should make their script his next project. She says the market will see a surge in "religious" films because the Hollywood elite and a lot of independent filmmakers will see that people have responded well to Mel’s work. She says though a few of these projects will be good, the Christian failing of not striving for excellence will mark a lot of what comes out next. Also, the Hollywood elite will put out a bunch of stuff as they did after Cecil B. DeMile’s Ten Commandments because they will think religious people will watch anything religious.

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