The Powerful Gaze of Jesus Christ that Converted the Interpreter of Barabbas into “The Passion of Christ”


The chilling testimony of the Italian actor Pietro Sarubbi: after years of existential emptiness, he found the faith thanks to the role that he did not want to have interpreted

As a teenager, Italian actor Pietro Sarubbi ran away from home to join a circus group and has since turned the world trying to find existential meaning and fill the spiritual void that tormented him. Among plays, television commercials and independent Italian film productions, Pietro excelled in comedy, but never got rid of a subtle and persistent sense of failure, as his dream was to become a director.

Even in 2001, when he landed a supporting role in ” Captain Corelli, ” the Hollywood movie, the void did not dissipate. Things would start to change, however, a few months later: Pietro received an invitation to work with Mel Gibson on what he imagined would be an action movie. He would never have imagined that the film was intended to portray the Passion of Christ.

Although far removed from the Church, Pietro wished at that moment to interpret the apostle Peter – not because he had a particular appreciation for the Holy Father, but only because the value to be paid per day of work was higher. There was no small disappointment when the director told him that he wanted him in the role of Barabbas.

It was Mel Gibson himself who explained to him, however, that Barabbas was not just a bandit. The rebel Zealot had been imprisoned for many years, had been tortured and taken to the limit of the humanly bearable. A phrase from Mel Gibson struck deep in Pietro’s heart: Barabbas had been transformed into an animal, a brutish, speechless being who only expressed himself with his eyes. That was why the director had chosen him: because Pietro could embody both the wild animal and, in the depths of his heart, keep the glow of a good man in the eye.

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During the recordings, Pietro Sarubbi and the Zealot merged into one. The scene progressed and Pietro embodied the events in such a way that he no longer acted consciously. When the authorities released Barabbas, chosen by the multitude in Jesus’ place, the bandit, in disbelief and exultation, stared at the mighty and then at the mob with irony. It is when he descends the stairs and his gaze intersects with that of Jesus.

” It was a big impact. I felt an electric current between us. I saw Jesus himself, “said Pietro Sarubbi about the strength of the scene shared with fellow Jim Caviezel, interpreter of the Christ there condemned to the horrible torture of death on the cross.

And it was at that moment that the peace so desperately sought after over so many years finally flooded her soul.

“When you looked into my eyes, Jesus’ eyes had no hatred or resentment. Only mercy and love. “

In 2011, Pietro Sarubbi reported his shocking conversion in the book ” From Barabba to Gesù – Convertito da uno sguardo ” (” From Barabbas to Jesus: converted by a look “). The Italian actor tells in this work that faith now covers all areas of his life.

The pages of the book conclude with a personal interpretation of that episode that changed forever its trajectory:

“Barabbas is the man whom Jesus saved from the cross. It is he who represents all mankind. “


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