After what has been described as a close race, Homeland star Nazanin Boniadi has landed the role of the female led in MGM and Paramount Pictures’ upcoming Ben-Hur remake, pipping the likes of Kingsman: The Secret Service‘s Sofia Boutella to the part.
Boniadi will now star opposite Jack Huston in the sword and sandals epic, and it’s understood the actress won over the hearts and minds of the casting directors for her chemistry with the Boardwalk Empire star, who is on board to play the titular hero. Previously Man of Steel‘s Ayelet Zurer and Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot, were attached to the role, but contract negotiations with DC — which are as far reaching as you’d imagine — forced her to pull out.
With a release date pegged for 2016, we’re still a ways away from seeing Timur Bekmambetov’s bold remake in action, though it’s been reported that the filmmaker will bring his grand vision before the cameras early next year, when the production will take to Italy to begin filming.
Inspired by Lew Wallace’s eponymous novel, Ben-Hur orbits around the relationship between Huston’s character and his close friend Messela (Toby Kebbell), who grow up together on the sun-kissed hills of Jerusalem. But given that Messela is the son of a Roman tax collector, while Ben-Hur himself is born a Jewish prince, the pair soon find themselves at loggerheads. Cue an epic quest for revenge that climaxes with a show-stopping chariot race.
Ben-Hur will bring together Huston, Kebbell, Boniadi, along with Morgan Freeman as Ildarin — a wise old man who trains the titular protagonist in the fine art of chariot racing.
Timur Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur will make its bow in theaters on February 19th, 2016.