This morning, we heard news that MGM’s remake of the 1959 swords-n-sandals epic, Ben-Hur, had nearly bagged itself a leading lady. Wonder Woman Gal Gadot might be signing on the dotted line to join a cast that so far, consists entirely of chaps. And now we can add another bloke to the ever-expanding call sheet, as Game Of Thrones star Pedro Pascal is also in negotiations for a juicy role.
Earlier this year, Pascal fought valiantly as Oberyn Martell in season four of HBO’s medieval fantasy series. His showiest moment alas came during his last scene, as he fought the hulking monstrosity known as The Mountain. He was an immensely likeable character and it’s a shame we won’t see him return to Westeros. However, if he signs on for Ben-Hur, he’ll still be kitted out in the finest period garb as he’s slated to play Pontius Pilate.
Should he take the part of the infamous Pilate, Pascal will find himself in the company of Jack Huston as Ben-Hur, Toby Kebbell as Messala, Morgan Freeman as Ildarin and of course, Gadot as Ben-Hur’s love interest. In the original movie, Pilate (played by Frank Thring) functioned as counsel to Ben-Hur’s adoptive father, and never failed to make sure the poor lad knew he held the keys to the kingdom.
For this updated take, director Timur Bekmambetov won’t be pandering to William Wyler’s earlier version, instead his angle will refocus on the original novel. Deadline, who dropped the news, went on to beef up the specifics surrounding the plot, which apparently will veer off a little from the 1959 Oscar-winner. To ensure a fresh approach to the script, writers John Ridley and Keith Clarke have gone back to the source material – Lew Wallace’s novel from 1880.
This version is set to focus mainly on “the blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur (Huston) and Messala (Kebbell), who grew up best friends before the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem. Ben-Hur was a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector. After the latter leaves to be educated in Rome for five years, the young man returns with a different attitude and mocks Judah and his religion. When a procession passes by Judah’s house and a roof tile accidentally falls and hits the governor, Messala betrays his childhood friend and manipulates the accident so that Judah is sold into slavery and certain death on a Roman warship, with his mother and sister thrown in prison for life. Judah vows revenge, culminating in the famed chariot races.”
Hmm – not a million miles away from the original, but we’re eager to see where Bekmambetov and his impressive cast will take this rebooted version. Production is slated to commence early next year, so you can bet on hearing plenty more casting announcements in the near future.
Ben-Hur is scheduled for release on February 26, 2016.