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Last week, we reported that Christo Jivkov, who was best known for playing John the Apostle in Mel Gibson’s 2004 hit movie The Passion Of The Christ, had passed away at the age of 48 after a long battle with lung cancer. Now, Gibson has broken his silence to pay tribute to Jivkov in the wake of his untimely death. 

Gibson Pays Tribute To Jivkov

“My dear friend Christo has lost his heroic battle with cancer,” Gibson told Fox News. “Right to the last moment he was filled with hope and his spirit was strong.”

“I’ll miss him but I know his suffering is over and he has eternal bliss,” he continued. “God keep him.”

This came after Jivkov’s death was confirmed by Kaloyan Bozhilov, a cinematographer at Red Carpet Films, which is a production company Jivkov co-founded.

“Unfortunately, the news is true. Christo left this world after a long illness,” Bozhilov said. “[The] Last year’s [sic] of his life he spent in the USA.”

Related: ‘Passion Of The Christ’ Star Christo Jivkov Dead At 48

Jivkov’s Career – Passion Of The Christ Sequel

Born in 1975 in Sofia, Bulgaria, Jivkov went on to attend the Bulgarian Film & Theater Academy. Jivkov got his start in front of the camera in Italian cinema before he achieved international fame when he starred in the Gibson-directed Passion Of The Christ in 2004 alongside Jim Caviezel and Monica Bellucci, with the movie grossing a whopping $612 million worldwide, according to Deadline.

In the 19 years since the movie was released, Jivkov kept in touch with Gibson, and they met up multiple times throughout the years. It was expected that Jivkov would be reprising the role of John the Apostle in the movie’s long-rumored sequel, which finally appeared to be coming to fruition in recent months. 

“Of course, that is a huge undertaking, and you know, it’s not the Passion 2. It’s called The Resurrection,” Gibson said of the sequel back in 2016. “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 is up to the task,” he added, referring to the film’s writer. “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.”

Related: Mel Gibson Making Sequel To ‘Passion Of The Christ’ – ‘Starting Filming’ This Year

Wallace And Caviezel Speak Out

Wallace told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016 that he “always wanted to tell this story. The Passion is the beginning and there’s a lot more story to tell.”

“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,” he continued. 

Caviezel, who played Jesus Christ in The Passion Of The Christ, said in 2020 that a sequel was in the works and that it would be “the biggest film in world history.”

“Mel Gibson just sent me the third picture, the third draft,” he added, according to The Sun. “It’s coming.” 

While we continue to hope that this sequel will get made, it’s unfortunate that Jivkov will no longer be able to be a part of it. Please join us in saying a prayer for Gibson and Jivkov’s other loved ones as they continue to mourn his loss. 

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