It is one thing to have the concept for another cinematic take on Lew Wallace's classic novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. It is quite another to see Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) filling a role once made famous – and to Academy Award® winning effect – by Charlton Heston.
This latest take on Ben-Hur pledges to skirt closer to Wallace's book than the 1959 film. It will chronicle the younger days of Ben-Hur 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. But then the Roman galley he is aboard is shipwrecked and he finds himself with a chance at revenge, helped by wisdom and training from Morgan Freeman's Ilderim. And he gets his big chance during a chariot race.
"You get in with two horses on a chariot, which blows your mind, and then you put four horses on the end of your reins," Huston tells USA Today. "It would be the equivalent of a Formula 1 race. It's overwhelming and incredibly scary. But after the first day where you think every second, 'I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die,' you decide to put that out of your brain for good and it becomes just part of the job."
With Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland), Rodrigo Santoro (300), Pilou Asbaek (Lucy) and Moises Arias (Ender's Game) also in the cast, Ben-Hur will arrive in the UK on 26 August.