The Passion of the Christ actor Christo Jivkov loses his battle to lung cancer
Tuesday 04 April 2023
The Passion of the Christ actor Christo Jivkov has died aged 48 after a long battle with lung cancer.
The Bulgarian-born star – best known for his role as John the Apostle in Mel Gibson’s controversial 2004 film about Jesus’ crucifixion, and who starred in Ermanno Olmi’s award-winning 2001 film The Profession of Arms – died on Friday night in Los Angeles.
A statement released on Facebook by Bulgarian film company Red Carpet Films, co-founded by Christo, said they had “no words” to “describe the pain of this loss”.
The company added: “Today we lost our beloved friend and dear colleague Christo Jivkov, co-founder of Red Carpet.
“Wе are truly devastated by this untimed loss. We will never forget you!”
Christo’s Italian actress friend Maria Grazia Cucinotta, 54, who played a Bond girl in The World is Not Enough, said on Instagram in a message written in her native tongue: “Still don’t wanna believe you are gone... endless pain. Hello Christo, my friend, gentle soul, your fight for life, was the fight of all those who love you.”
Born 18 February, 1975 in Sofia, Bulgaria, Christo attended the Bulgarian Film and Theatre Academy where he majored in film directing.
Shortly after graduating he was cast in the lead role of Giovanni de Medici in The Profession of Arms, which swept the 2002 David di Donatello Awards with nine wins, including Best Film.
It led to his career in Italian cinema and television and he went on to play John opposite Jim Caviezel and Monica Bellucci in The Passion of the Christ, which grossed US$612million globally.
He was expected to be involved in the long-rumoured sequel if or when it started shooting.
Mel, 67, has previously mentioned the second film, titled The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection has long been in the pipeline, and recent reports say filming could finally start in spring 2023.
The Lethal Weapon star said during an interview with Pastor Greg Laurie at the SoCal Harvest Crusade in California: “Of course, that is a huge undertaking, and you know, it's not the Passion 2. It’s called The Resurrection.
“Of course, that’s a very big subject and it needs to be looked at because we don't want to just do a simple rendering of it – you know, read what happened.
“But in order to read it, experience and explore probably deeper meanings of what it’s about, it’s going to take some doing and Randall Wallace (the screenwriter who also penned Braveheart) is up to the task.
“He is also, as well as a brilliant writer, he is a great director. He directed We Were Soldiers and Heaven is for Real and stuff. So, he is a good writer and director.”