At first I was rather dubious about the remake of William Wyler’s classic 1959 Ben Hur, a movie that setup the modern archetype of what a manly hero is and paved the way for plenty of epic Hollywood movies. The last thing I wanted was a Micheal Bay remake with Baysplosions everywhere and a lead that was as deep as the bath I had this morning.
But with the news being reported by Deadline this morning that Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) has been cast in the title role as Judah Ben Hur I am a bit more optimistic. Apparently MGM and Paramount first had Huston audition for the role of Messala, the protagonist’s best friend turned rival, but thought that with his gritty and also vulnerable portrayal of half-faced assassin Richard Harrow in Boardwalk Empire, he would be better suited to the lead.
The Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Night Watch) directed movie is set to start filming in Europe next year with a provisional February 26, 2016 release date. Morgan Freeman was also recently confirmed to star as Ildarin, the chariot tutor Ben Hur learns from.
The movie’s story will follow the rivalry between Ben Hur and Messala more so than the original but plans to also touch on the story of Christ, which is meant to run as a parallel element. In the original, Judah Ben Hur is a Jewish prince that is betrayed by his envious friend Messala. He is sold into slavery but through his actions and self discipline manages to regain his former glory and avenge his injustice in a chariot race that involved over 1500 extras to make up the crowd in the stands on a given day of shooting! This time I am sure the CGI will make things easier!
Whether Huston will fill the shoes of the legendary Charlton Heston – who picked up one of the film’s record breaking 11 Oscars for his performance – is yet to be seen, but I am hopeful!
Last Updated: September 17, 2014