A nobleman, Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), is falsely accused of an assassination attempt by his childhood friend and adoptive brother Messala (Toby Kebbell). He survives years of slavery under the Romans and attempts to get revenge by challenging his adoptive brother in a grand chariot race while being forever changed after a series of encounters with Jesus of Nazareth.
Ben-Hur is an American historical epic action film directed by Timur Bekmambetov and written by Keith R. Clarke and John Ridley. It is based on the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace and has been termed a “re-adaptation”, “reimagining” and “new interpretation” of the novel.
Prior film adaptations of the book include the 1925 and the 1959 films of same name. The film stars Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman, Toby Kebbell, Nazanin Boniadi and Rodrigo Santoro. Principal photography began on February 2, 2015 in Rome, Italy and lasted for about 6 months finishing in August 2015. The film is scheduled to be released on August 19, 2016 in North America in 2D, 3D, RealD 3D and Digital 3D.
Cast and Characters
Jack Huston as Judah Ben-Hur
a Jewish prince in Roman-occupied Jerusalem who is betrayed and falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala and is sentenced to a life of slavery. Ben-Hur loses everything and spends five years in the galley of a Roman slave ship and later takes on the Roman Empire and avenges his adoptive brother in a grand chariot race while finding redemption and being forever changed after a series of encounters with Jesus Christ.
Huston said he felt “incredibly honored to be stepping into Charlton Heston’s sandals.” He was initially offered the role of Messala, but director Bekmambetov decided instead he had the sympathetic manner and grit to play the title role.
Bekmambetov found Huston to be an actor who not only was a “well-built, experienced horseman” but one who “felt like he was born in that era.” He said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if some of Jack’s many famous ancestors took part in an actual fight between Romans and Judaeans [sic] we depict in our film.” Tom Hiddleston was originally considered for the role.
Morgan Freeman as Sheik Ilderim
a sheik who trains Ben-Hur to become a charioteer to avenge his brother, Messala.
Toby Kebbell as Messala
an officer in the Roman army and Ben-Hur’s childhood friend and adoptive brother who betrays him.
Nazanin Boniadi as Esther
a Jewish slave and the love interest of Ben-Hur. Actresses Gal Gadot, Sofia Boutella, Moran Atias and Natalia Warner were all considered for the role during development.
Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus
Unlike in the original film, Christ will have a prominent role in this version. Paramount Pictures’ vice chairman, Rob Moore, stated that Christ in this version “is going to be consistent with people’s expectations,” and that the “expectations of the faithful will be honored by this one.” This was because Paramount wants to avoid the sort of backlash received by Darren Aronofsky’s Noah in which some Christians were dismayed by the film’s inventive and inaccurate interpretation of the Bible. Santoro received personal blessings from Pope Francis for his role as Christ.
Sofia Black D’Elia as Tirzah
Ayelet Zurer as Naomi
Moisés Arias as Gestas
a teenage Jewish zealot whose family has been murdered by the Romans and is desperate to fight for his people’s freedom.
Pilou Asbæk as Pontius Pilate
the Judean governor who oversees the chariot race.
Marwan Kenzari as Druses
a Roman captain who is involved with the betrayal by Messala that sends Ben-Hur on his path to redemption.
James Cosmo as Quintus
Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Haluk Bilginer, Pilou Asbæk, Marwan Kenzari, Rodrigo Santoro, Moises Arias, Ayelet Zurer, Toby Kebbell, Sofia Black-D’Elia
Screenplay by: Keith R. Clarke
Production Design by: Naomi Shohan
Cinematography by: Oliver Wood
Film Editing by: Dody Dorn, Richard Francis-Bruce, Bob Murawski
Costume Design by: Varvara Avdyushko
Set Decoration by: Arianna Pascazi, Alessandra Querzola
Music by: Marco Beltrami
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Release Date: August 19, 2016