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Passion's Lighting Struck Assistant Director Unveils Artwork

Jan Michelini, an assistant director on THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, unveiled in the U.S. his artwork inspired by the filming of the movie at a celebrity studded reception on May 12, 2004 at Kolibri Gallery. The 24 year-old Italian-born Michelini was affectionately nicknamed "Lightning Boy" by Mel Gibson and producer Steve McEveety when he was struck by bolts of lightning on two separate occasions while filming the "The Crucifixion" and "Jesus delivers the Sermon on the Mount" scenes.

In the first instance, while filming The Crucifixion scene, a huge, dangerous-looking thundercloud sent the crew scattering for cover. Michelini rushed to cover fellow assistant director Rachel Griffiths with an umbrella and was simultaneously struck by a lightning bolt. The second instance happened immediately after Michelini had just joked to star Jim Caviezel, that, "we're going to be struck by lightning... I'm just feeling it!" Moments later, just as Gibson was about to shout "action," the lightning blasted Michelini and Caviezel. The after-effects of the lightning blast were actually captured and retained in the film for this scene and captured in a still photograph.

"I had so much energy from this movie," said Michelini, "and so many things changing inside of me, that I had to release it somehow." His paintings include images of angels, Christ's face, and the crucified Christ. He refers to the experience as his "second baptism." During a private ceremony in October 1978, Michelini and his twin sister were the first children baptized by Pope John Paul II after the start of his Pontificate. Later, Michelini was instrumental in arranging an audience with Pope John Paul II for Mel Gibson along with a screening of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST for the Pope and Vatican officials by means of his family's long association with the Pontiff.

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