FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW] “I get films. I don’t get the easy ones. And this one definitely wasn’t,” says actor Jim Caviezel. “This is a huge weapon to evil, and they don’t like it.”
In this episode, I sit down with actor Jim Caviezel and Tim Ballard, a former Department of Homeland Security special agent and founder of Operation Underground Railroad. Jim Caviezel plays Ballard in the new Angel Studios action drama film “Sound of Freedom,” which sheds light on the dark realities of both human and sex trafficking.
“This country needs to be the solution. Instead, we are the problem,” says Ballard. “We’re the source of the corruption right now that is enslaving children.”
“The United States is number three for destination countries for human trafficking, number one for the consumption of child rape videos. And we are now approaching number one in the production of child exploitation material,” Ballard says.
Jan Jekielek: Jim Caviezel, Tim Ballard, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Tim Ballard: Thank you.
Jim Caviezel: Thank you.
Mr. Jekielek: I’ve watched the film, “Sound of Freedom,” twice now. Tim, the first time, I couldn’t believe that you lived this story, and I know it’s your story. It’s unbelievable, and so engaging. The second time, I thought that this film has a chance to raise awareness about something that is very difficult to talk about—child trafficking. Jim, you play Tim Ballard in the movie. Please tell me about playing this role.
Mr. Caviezel: It’s about Tim Ballard, former Homeland Security and CIA. He’s fighting an uphill battle. He’s getting these traffickers, but he can’t save the kids. God answers his prayer when he takes down one of the worst traffickers and pedophiles that they had seen at the border. Out of the voice of babes, a little boy says, “Will you save my sister?” So, Tim risks his life, and essentially sells everything he has.
He talks to his wife, and she says, “Go and do what you’re supposed to do.” He had a purpose. I love it when Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a pearl that I would sell everything for,” essentially. Tim gets it, and he sells everything to go and find his heart where this little girl is. “No greater love have you than to lay your life down for your brother or your sister.” And he lays it down for this little child.
Mr. Jekielek: Tim, in the film there’s this pendant that Miguel, the little boy that you rescued, gave to you, and his sister had given it to him. It creates this wonderful continuity throughout the film.
Speaker 1: [foreign language]
Mr. Jekielek: Was this real?
Mr. Ballard: Yes, I’m so glad you asked. You’re the first person who has asked this question, and it’s a very important question. I begged the writers not to include that piece, not because it wasn’t true, because it is true. I thought no one would believe it, and that no one would believe that it was this little boy who kicked off my whole life mission. I was not committed yet. I thought, I’ll just do this for a few years. You’re supposed to stay in child crimes four or five years max, because it burns holes in your brain.
But after that experience, I couldn’t do anything else. He does give me the pendant, on a necklace. He said something to me, and I remember that moment. This didn’t even make it into the film. But it was one of the most transformational moments in my life, when we got him out of the van.
I don’t know if they cut that scene or not, where Jim’s carrying the boy out of the van. I had to go interview him for several days to find out what’s going on. Where’s your sister? Where are the other people? He gave me this necklace that his sister had given him. It was like a rosary.
I said, “Why do I want this?” He didn’t really tell me why. It was almost like he was being inspired. A few days later, when I had it in my office, my son saw it. This boy was about five years old, and my son was a few years older than that.
He said, “Dad, where did you get this?” I said, “It’s from this little boy that we rescued.” He asked, “How did he know your name? That’s so cool that he put your name on the necklace.” I said, “No, my name’s not on the necklace.” I flipped it around and there it is, 1 Timothy, 6:11, which is a beautiful scripture. From my head to my toes, I just felt invigorated and enlightened, like, “Oh my gosh.”
Speaker 1: [foreign language]
Mr. Ballard: People say it was a coincidence. For me, it wasn’t. It was very real. I started wearing that necklace throughout the entire mission and every other mission that I ever did. Thank you for asking, because no one has asked about that. Because everybody assumes it was poetic license, and just this cute little thing they threw in. No, it’s very real, and it’s very meaningful. It played a huge part in my decision.
Mr. Jekielek: Tim, the reason I mentioned this pendant is because it seemed like you made the pendant incredibly important to you. It wasn’t a coincidence. You thought, “This has meaning, I’m getting a sign here that this is what I need to do.” What you choose to do is unbelievable.
Mr. Ballard: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s unbelievable that you credit your wife with actually having inspired this and agreeing to it. But there is this sign that you need to do it. This is how you’re going to find redemption from everything you’ve had to suffer by watching all this video, and prosecuting these people. Tell me, am I reading this right?
Mr. Caviezel: The scripture, 1 Timothy, which is Timotheo in Spanish, is a symbol of faith. God uses little symbols like this to speak to us, and it’s been there since our forefathers. Here we are in Washington DC, and people have lost their way. They kicked God out of our schools. The idea is that we’re more free, but we’re not. A film like this is not going in the direction where my industry has gone. It’s going the right direction. There are guys that came before us like Jimmy Stewart, when he did, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Our film has some of that in there.
This film has a lot of tough things. But what burns is his love for humanity. God gave him that direction at the expense of his own life. At some point though, we all are going to meet our end. That goes right to scripture with the great saints like St. Paul or John the Baptist. They were fearless, because they trusted God. What is greater than fearless love?
Mr. Jekielek: How do you do this work? How do you watch these videos? Because there’s a scene in the film where you’re typing about the video that you’ve found. Even thinking about it is difficult, and I haven’t even seen it.
Mr. Caviezel: That scene is particularly difficult for me to watch. I don’t watch the filming. I come in afterwards, because it’s too much for me. They film so many things that are at the exact, true location, like at the port of entry when the little boy gives me the necklace. They filmed it at the very place, Calexico West Port of Entry, in the very lane where that happened.
How do I do this? To answer that, first I’ll say there’s a reason I insisted that Jim Caviezel play me. I didn’t know Jim, but he was my favorite actor. Why was he my favorite actor? Because of, “The Passion of the Christ,” and because of, “The Count of Monte Cristo,” my favorite movies. But I don’t trust Hollywood.
After this operation made the news, and things happened, we started getting hit up by these studios. We just said, “No.” Because I’m actually in this business because of Hollywood. Hollywood creates the content that creates the sex addiction, that creates the demand, and that creates human trafficking. The link is there if you wish to see it. Why is Hollywood coming to me? When this current production studio came to me, it turns out they maybe were not Hollywood, but I didn’t know that at the time.
I said, “Look, Jim Caviezel has to play me. I don’t care.” They said, “He doesn’t look like you.” I said, “I don’t care what he looks like, okay?” Because there’s this cool thing at the end, when you see they do this transformation that was in the script from the beginning where they show real footage. They said, “The guy has to look like you.”
I said, “No, he doesn’t. He has to feel like me. He’s the only actor I know that loves Jesus, and that’s so important to me.” Why is that important to me? This answers your question of how we do this, and how I do this. It’s because I am a person of faith. There is one scripture that speaks to me so loudly. It’s the one time in the scripture where Jesus gets mafioso, literally sounding violent. But it’s Jesus, so it’s righteous violence. It’s very rare to have righteous violence, but that’s what was happening.
I’m not talking about flipping over tables outside the temple. I’m talking about a line he says that reminds me of the mafia. He says it only once, and never does he say such a thing again. He says, “It’s better that a millstone be wrapped around your neck and have you cast to the bottom of the sea, than you should hurt one of these little children.”
In other words, that’s horrifying, but it’s actually going to be worse than that if I don’t dare to do this thing. Okay, so what does this do for me? It makes it so that I can do the things that you see depicted in that film. I’m scared, and I’m as human as anybody, but I know where heaven stands on this issue, because it was made very clear. I feel it and I know it.
Jim didn’t know that. Jim didn’t know that line of scripture is the thing that is my go-to. It’s how I know that I can go in with courage because Jesus has my back, and the angels of God have my back. Jim didn’t know this. One of my very favorite three scenes in the film is the cafe scene.
I don’t want to spoiler alert anything. But the cafe is a real scene that really happened. The pedophile gives me the book, and he’s about to be arrested in that coffee shop. In real life, I didn’t say what Jim said. I wish I had. But Jim uses that line, and it’s not in the script. He ad-libbed that scriptural line about the millstone. I can’t even describe it, and I’m not going to, because how he used it is brilliant and complex.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s one of the most powerful moments in the film, actually. I’m not surprised that you’re telling me about it.
Mr. Ballard: Yes, it is. That’s how I do what I do. That’s why I do what I do.
Mr. Jekielek: It gives you the strength to be able to watch this stuff and document it, and then, go really deep cover and pretend to be a pedophile to get some of these people. Being able to do such a thing is a very difficult thing to imagine.
Mr. Ballard: How did he do it? It took him two years to recover from this role. I know, because I watched him suffer like you can’t believe. Maybe I’m the only person that could recognize it, because I suffer in the same way.
Mr. Caviezel: I don’t know how Tim did it. I read this story about King David. When he was a boy of 16, Samuel comes and is told by God that one of these young men out of this home is going to be the head of Israel. He interviews all of them, and they’re all dressed to the nines. He turns to the father and says, “None of these sons will be the head of Israel. By chance, do you have another son?” He says, “Yes, he’s a shepherd out back.” It’s David.
Then, God comes to David when they are in the heat of a battle. They get pinned in, and they’re up on high ground, and the Philistines are surrounding them. All he cares about is this God that reveals himself to him, and that loves him. They’re talking about this horrible thing, that his own biological father didn’t love him like this God, like he was really only the child of this God. He wasn’t going to have it, and he would rather die.
He went down and told the men, “You’re going to come around after I kill this bastard.” He goes down. What a beautiful father. David could have missed him, but he didn’t matter to him. He said, “You don’t talk about my father this way.” This is the kind of guy he is.
As much as it hurts you inside to come off something like this, to be able to climb Mount Everest and find just a chip of love, it’s worth it. I get films, and I don’t get the easy ones. This one definitely wasn’t easy. But it’s okay when it requires everything of me, including maybe even my life. I will stand up for good and truth, because love always is there. If I have that, then I’m the best that I ever was. That’s what I loved about this whole project.
People are going to feel that reverberation when they go to the theater. They’re going to be hit much in the same way as watching this dark Christmas film by Jimmy Stewart, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s really a dark film. But if it wasn’t for him, those people would never have made it. If it wasn’t for him, those children never would have made it. That is a great role to play, and that’s a battle I’m willing to fight any day.
Mr. Jekielek: This has been a very difficult film in a lot of ways. I’ve covered this trafficking issue quite a bit on the show, but I can’t do it too much. Some issues that I’ve covered, like the organ harvesting regime in communist China, are things that will cause people to just glaze over. People don’t want to know at some point. That’s what happens.
This film, with these characters, the brother and sister pair, is an incredibly powerful story. You think, “Wow, this is unbelievable. This is incredible. I can’t believe that this actually happened.” And we do know that it’s a true story.
Mr. Ballard: Look, I’m going to be super transparent because this is real. I can’t afford to play any games and not be fully transparent. I will say it is a true story. Absolutely. Every character is real. Every bad guy is real. In fact, at the end of the movie, you remember the first-
Mr. Caviezel: I know what he’s going to say. I just want you to know, not every story that he does turns out good. Probably most of them don’t. Because by chance one child might live, he will keep fighting and keep on going to save that one child.
Mr. Ballard: Yes. They had to cut the film down, because it was too long. At the end, my favorite part was where they showed all the good guys, the bad guys, and the kids, and where they are today. All those kids they rescued at the island, we know where they are. Those are real kids, every one of them.
Some of them work for us. Some of them, as young adults, have actually rescued people from human trafficking. It’s the most amazing story. I haven’t even introduced Jim to some of these people. Some of them are young adults now. This was our first rescue operation, so they are the first ones who have become adults.
Did it work? Yes, it did work. We’ll be doing documentaries about it. All the bad guys are real, like Bill Camp’s character, Vampiro. I call him Batman, but DC Comics wouldn’t release that name, so we had to call him Vampiro. He’s a real guy with a real story.
The story that he tells about being converted from molesting children was an Academy Award-winning scene. I’m not going to say what he did. Jim’s response is probably the most brilliant acting ever. He didn’t say one word, but used his eyes at the end of that scene. I won’t say what he did. But Vampiro basically calls Jim, and tells him his conversion story.
This is a real scene, and it happened. Jim looks at him and does something with his eyes that is impossible—giving 10,000 words through his eyes without saying a word. There’s so many real things happening there. Some things are under-reported, and some things are over-reported. I’m going to be honest, he makes me look way more badass than I am. They play with time. There are certain liberties they have to take with certain things.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s some actual footage from a real operation at the end, correct?
Mr. Ballard: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: You do actually see the elements at one point.
Mr. Ballard: Absolutely. We filmed that operation. Also, there’s going to be a documentary called, “Triple Take,” coming after, “Sound of Freedom,” that tells the story. So, it’s all real. Yes, liberties were taken. There’s certain action scenes that went beyond what really happened. I don’t want to give a spoiler alert, but I just want to say that. I also want to say that the majority of it is absolutely true.
It’s a true story, and this happened. It’s important to know that, because I’m tired of people saying that human trafficking must be false and it can’t be real. It’s the Leftist movement that’s actually doing this. They want to discredit human trafficking and pedophilia, because they have an agenda to normalize pedophilia.
The UN just reported that it’s time to start decriminalizing sex with children. The same groups that are just trying to discredit me and just trying to destroy my reputation, the fake news media outlets, are also pedaling this agenda of not calling them pedophiles. Pedophile is a derogatory term. Hell yeah, it’s derogatory, and it’s supposed to be. It’s a red flag statement.
Now they want to call them minor-attracted persons. You’ve heard this, it’s called MAP. It’s insane what is happening with the sexualization of our kids, and what’s happening at the border with human child trafficking. There is spiritual warfare going on right now, and children are in the crosshairs.
This has never happened before. Children have never been the target so clearly and so blatantly. Half the country is saying, “Yay, rah, rah, we’re going to liberate kids.” No, you’re going to enslave them in the name of liberating them. I hope this film is the tool that opens people’s minds to the danger that all of our children are in.
Mr. Jekielek: A few years ago I was looking at how different people are thinking about the world, and I’ve been studying this. It’s a bizarre situation. You said half the country, but I don’t think it’s half the country.
Mr. Ballard: You’re right, but it seems like it is.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s a small group of very loud, very energetic people. Then, there are a bunch of people that just don’t say anything.
Mr. Ballard: The silent majority needs to rise up. I hope this film activates them.
Mr. Jekielek: But what do you think about that?
Mr. Caviezel: It’s important. I went to see a friend of mine in Texas and his 13-year-old daughter was walking home by herself. I said, “Are you kidding me?” I had just gotten off this movie. He said, “I want my daughter to feel the same way I did when I walked home from school.” I said, “That world has changed.”
I said, “I’m not the one that’s the trafficker here, do you understand? I’m not here to hurt your child. I’m trying to protect you.” The film is very powerful because it shows you how it occurs routinely, but it also helps you to know what the warning signs are. A mother and a father have to guard their children and protect them. Sticking your head in the sand is not protecting your children.
This movie comes out on the 4th of July. Imagine you’re at a barbecue and there’s Susie right there, and then, you look over and she’s gone. The predators are watching you. But if you know the warning signs, you will be one up on them.
I remember we were out in the South Pacific and we were in the water with these big man-eating sharks. Do you know what? They wouldn’t eat us, but they should have, and it was because we were staring at them. They are predators. They noticed that we were looking at them, so they wouldn’t touch us. It’s extraordinary, but it’s true. If it works with the sharks, it certainly will work with these predators. We have to keep going and get on the offensive.
We will have the triumph of the will. But if you tell a lie over and over and over again, it becomes real. Lenin said, of all industries in the world, the most important is film. Why? If you do bad engineering with a building, it will fall down. If you do bad engineering with film, it’s okay. With film, you can tell lies. Tell them often enough and they become real.
A lot of the public, they’re changing right now. For example, with the Hunter Biden laptop they said, “It’s not true,” and we believed that. For two years they said it over and over again. But now it turns out it is true. That was two years of lying right there.
Before the Durham report dropped, for seven years we had a Russian agent, Donald Trump. Now, we don’t anymore, but that’s seven years of lying. About 80 percent of all the stuff that they’ve been giving us for the last two years, the public is not buying it anymore. They’re looking at the media and saying, “No, you’re as wicked as those traffickers. You are as wicked as those pedophiles, and this is why you’re running cover for them.” The public is putting it all together. There’s going to be a point where those people won’t be able to walk down the street ever again.
The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1,200-page book. We had 110 minutes to tell you the story of the Count of Monte Cristo. We had to take 88 characters and condense them down to 12 to14 characters. We had to do the same with this film. Tim has been on many, many, missions. Here is my point. When you walk out of there, you won’t get up just like you did at “The Passion of the Christ,” or just like you did at “Schindler’s List.” The difference between Schindler’s List and this film is that Schindler’s List was done 50 years-
Mr. Ballard: Too late.
Mr. Caviezel: Too late. We’re doing this right now, in real time. This is a huge weapon against evil, and they don’t like it. But, too bad.
Mr. Jekielek: During the Washington premiere, you said that the U.S. is the biggest market and biggest consumer for child sex trafficking. In the film, it says it’s one of the biggest markets. How do you measure that, and how can that be possible? I’m trying to understand.
Mr. Ballard: Yes, let me break it down. There are more people enslaved today than ever before. Let’s start with the big numbers. The big numbers are that $150 billion a year are made off the backs of men, women, and children slaves, 27 million of them throughout the world, from slave labor, organ harvesting, and sex slavery. Six million of those are children in one of those three categories. It’s estimated that two million of those are specifically designated for the commercial sex trade. These numbers are so enormous that it’s almost pointless even talking about it. Even the smallest number is still two million children, and I think it’s much, much higher than that.
Often, people in the United States have looked at those numbers and said, “No, that’s far, far away. That is in Africa and India, and maybe South America. That’s not here.” No, wrong. The United States is number three for destination countries for human trafficking, and number one for consumption of child rape videos. We are now approaching number one in production of child exploitation material.
This is so important to understand, because if we don’t understand it, then we’ll never understand why things are happening in this country which make no sense. Why are there over 85,000 unaccompanied minors showing up in the last two years at the southern border, and are then delivered to sponsors with no background check and no DNA testing? There are thousands of these kids.
Look at the CDP numbers which are published. Thousands are under five years old. What’s a three-year-old doing showing up alone with a name? “Just call this number please, and take me to my sponsor.” There’s no background check. They call the number and the sponsor shows up. It’s not just that, though.
It’s born here in this country. They want to get rid of the term pedophile, and call it a minor-attracted person. They want to give children pornography in third grade, calling it sex education.They want to let 13 to14-year-old girls consent to mastectomies and having themselves injected with hormone blockers that can destroy their reproductive systems. Why is that relevant?
Because it’s just one more step to giving consent. If you give me that much power of consent at age 13, you’ve already sexualized me. Because I’ve had your sex education. Do you know what porn does to an adult brain? It is 10 times worse for a kid’s brain? Now, they are 13-years-old, and they’re going to say, “Thank you for letting me change my body.”
“I also want to tell you that I identify as a 30-year-old, and I want to have sex with that 40-year-old pedophile. You can’t stop me anymore, because you have eliminated all the godly, scientific, moral virtues that this nation was based upon. Mom and dad, you’ve washed them away and you got lots of social media hits because of it. You got awards because of it, but now you can’t stop the pedophiles.”
The pedophile agenda has been pushed for decades. I’m not saying they’re talking to this woke, Left godlessness that’s happening. They’re not necessarily talking, but their agenda is identical. All the things that pedophiles have wanted is sexualizing kids, giving kids the right to consent, and pushing God out of education. These are all the platforms that the organized pedophile groups have been pedaling. The woke Left is now implementing them. It is so terrifying. It’s not just at the southern border, that’s just the beginning.
We need to connect all the dots and recognize our children are in the crosshairs of spiritual warfare. This has never happened in the history of this country. It’s happened in other cultures, and you can go look at what happens. When it happens, bad things follow. If you believe in a just God, you need to stand up right now, those who believe, and those who understand.
This film is that tool. This film will bring light, and it will soften hearts. It will bring enlightenment, understanding, and information to the ignorant populace who thinks it’s okay to enslave our children in the name of liberating them.
Mr. Jekielek: You did it as tastefully as you possibly could with this issue.
Mr. Caviezel: It’s Alfred Hitchcock style, but it still creeps you out, because it’s fired on the edge.
Mr. Jekielek: Frankly, your acting really moved me. We can see you getting into that character and knowing that you have to do this, and then, having that struggle.
Mr. Ballard: That’s a true story, by the way. That’s a true story you’re referring to, when Special Agent Tim Ballard had to go undercover as a pedophile. It’s a true story, and I didn’t know how Jim was going to pull that off, but he did.
Mr. Jekielek: You connected with Angel Studios to do the distribution, which has this amazing model which they had used with “The Chosen,” the pay-it-forward model. This film is actually a great fit for that model. At the end of the film, after the credits, you make this plea. You’ve been talking about declaring war on child sex trafficking with this film. How is this film being shown? It’s going out on multiple screens now, but what’s the overall plan to get this message out?
Mr. Caviezel: Right now, we have started with