Bulgarian actor Christo Jivkov dies after a battle with lung cancer

Bulgarian actor Christo Jivkov dies after a battle with lung cancer

April 11, 2023

The Passion of the Christ star Christo Jivkov dies age 48 after a long battle with lung cancer – 19 years after playing the apostle in Mel Gibson’s religious epic

Bulgarian actor Christo Jivkov has died at the age of 48.

The star – best known for his role as St. John in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ – passed away in Los Angeles, after a long battle with lung cancer. 

He also played Giovanni delle Bande Nere in Ermanno Olmi’s 2001 The Profession of Arms.

Jivkov was an actor and producer who was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. 

Shortly after graduating from the Bulgarian Film & Theater Academy where he majored in film directing, he was cast as the lead in The Profession of Arms.

Sad news: Bulgarian actor Christo Jivkov has died at the age of 48 (pictured in 2014)

Illness: The star – best known for his role as St. John in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ – passed away in Los Angeles, after a long battle with lung cancer

The film swept the 2002 David di Donatello Awards with nine wins, including Best Film.

He then enjoyed a career in Italian cinema and television. 

Jivkov went on to play John opposite Jim Caviezel and Monica Bellucci in Gibson’s The Passion Of the Christ in 2004.

He was expected to be involved in the long-rumored sequel which in January was rumoured to be beginning filming soon. 

Australian director and actor Mel, 67, has previously mentioned on several occasion that the second film, titled The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection, has been in the works – but recent reports reveal the filming could finally commence in spring 2023.

According to Newsmax, Jim Caviezel is set to return in the role of Jesus while Mel will be leading the way as director.

Passion Of The Christ scooped a whopping $612 million worldwide on a comparatively small budget of $30 million, making it the highest grossing R-rated film ever in the US box office. 

While the film was no doubt a financial success, the Mel and his team did weather their fair share of negative critical reviews.

Career: He also played Giovanni delle Bande Nere in Ermanno Olmi’s 2001 The Profession of Arms

Life: Shortly after graduating from the Bulgarian Film & Theater Academy where he majored in film directing, he was cast as the lead in The Profession of Arms

Role: He was expected to be involved in the long-rumored sequel to The Passion of the Christ which in January was rumoured to be beginning filming soon (director Mel Gibson is pictured)

Some critics slammed the film for its use of excessive violence, while others claimed that the film deviated too dramatically from the biblical story upon which it was based. 

The film was also slammed by some viewers as portraying antisemitic subject matter. 

It is unclear whether the 2004 film’s original star Monica Bellucci, who portrayed Mary Magdalene, will return to her roles.

A movie about Christ’s resurrection called Risen was released in February, and made $46 million worldwide on a $20 million budget.

In September 2016, Mel confirmed work has begun on a sequel to his 2004 film.

He revealed that work has already begun on the blockbuster and that Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace has already signed on to the project.

‘Of course, that is a huge undertaking, and you know, it’s not the Passion 2. It’s called The Resurrection,’ said Mel during an interview with Pastor Greg Laurie at the SoCal Harvest Crusade in California.

‘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,’ he explained. 

‘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 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,’ added Mel. 

Randall Wallace has spoken about his desire to take part in a follow-up film to Passion Of The Christ, telling The Hollywood Reporter: ‘I always wanted to tell this story. The Passion is the beginning and there’s a lot more story to tell,’ he said.  

The writer said they were interested due to the huge demand among the religious devotees who helped the original become the highest grossing independent movie of all time.

He said: ‘The evangelical community considers The Passion the biggest movie ever out of Hollywood, and they kept telling us that they think a sequel will be even bigger.’

Since the huge hit in 2004, Mel has gone through many life changes, including splitting from his ex wife Robyn Moore, who he spent thirty years married to, and shared seven children with.

Mel was previously in a relationship with the Russian musician Oksana Grigorieva from 2009 until 2010, with whom he shares his daughter Lucia, 13.

He then met his longtime partner Rosalind when she was signed on to co-write a script for his production company and they then began dating.

He was first revealed to be in a relationship with Rosalind, a writer and former champion equestrian, in 2014, and he welcomed his ninth child, Lars, with her in 2016.

Controversial: The Australian director and actor, 67, has previously mentioned on several occasion that the second film, titled The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection, has been in the works

Guidance: According to Newsmax, Jim Caviezel is set to return in the role of Jesus while Mel will be leading the way as director (Mel is pictured right with Jim as Jesus)

The star’s career has seen a resurgence in recent times with Hacksaw Ridge, garnering his first Oscar nod in more than two decades.

Mel has previously spoken out about his sobriety and in 2016, said that as an Alcoholics Anonymous member he has 10 years of sobriety under his belt.

He has previously admitted that he spent many years in Alcoholics Anonymous, saying he wouldn’t have survived otherwise.

‘They call it the spiritual path for the psychopath. They say there’s only three options: you go insane, you die or you quit. That’s the harsh reality. I’m an old hand at that,’ he told Good Weekend at the time.

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