Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Nazanin Boniadi set for Ben-Hur

Timur Bekmambetov's (Wanted) new take on Ben-Hur has finally found its female lead after Gal Gador dropped out in favour of the Zack Snyder's (Man Of Steel) small indie comic-book curios Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Michelle MacLaren's (Game Of Thrones) Wonder Woman. News arrives via Deadline that Homeland star Nazanin Boniadi has grabbed the gig, fending off plenty of other competition by performing the best "chemistry read" with Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire).

Huston is, of course, Judah Ben-Hur himself, with Boniadi playing Esther, the daughter of the slave Simonides.

Taken once again from Lew Wallace's 1880 novel, the new version aims to chronicle the younger days of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and Messala (Toby Kebbell), best friends growing up in Jerusalem. Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector who is packed off to be educated in Rome for five years. Upon his return, Messala mocks our hero for his religion and, after an accident he pins on his friend, has him sold into slavery. Cue a quest for revenge that is set to include the iconic chariot race.

Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight Rises) is already aboard to play Ildarin, the man who teaches Ben-Hur how to be a master at the reins for the races. Ayelet Zurer (Man Of Steel), meanwhile, will be back on Hero's Mother duty, playing Naomi, Ben-Hur's mum, while Pedro Pascal (The Adjustment Bureau) is also down to play a part. Keith Clarke (The Way Back) wrote the original script, which John Ridley (12 Years A Slave) has since re-written.

Boniadi was previously in Iron Man (2008) and The Next Three Days (2010), and was the original Girl in Ana Lily Amirpour's short A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (now replaced by Sheila Vand for the feature version). She's currently shooting the fifth season of Homeland, in which she plays CIA operative Fara Sherazi.

Bekmambetov plans to start shooting on Ben-Hur early next year in Italy, for a release on 19 February 2016.

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