Mark Burnett & Roma Downey on Remaking ‘Ben-Hur’ for a Contemporary Audience

     August 17, 2016

Remaking a classic is always a challenge, but could you imagaine being responsible for producing the remake of one of your favorite films of all time? My nerves would shoot through the roof, but executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey pulled it together for Ben-Hur.

The film is directed by Timur Bekmambetov and is a re-imagining of the 1959 Academy Award winning classic. It tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a wealthy prince in Jerusalem who loses everything when he’s accused of treason and his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army, condemns him to slavery.

With the new Ben-Hur making its way into theaters on August 19th, I got the opportunity to sit down with Burnett and Downey to discuss the challenges of remaking a beloved classic for a modern audience. Check out what they told me in the video interview at the top of this article.


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Image via Paramount and MGM

Roma Downey & Mark Burnett:

  • The 1959 Ben-Hur is one of Burnett’s favorite films of all time; was he confident or nervous about remaking it?
  • Burnett’s kids never saw the original Ben-Hur; did he eventually make them watch it?
  • What they needed to change to make the story appeal to a contemporary audience.
  • On working with Timur Bekmambetov; giving the film a classic style but also making it gritty and accessible for a modern audience.
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Image via Paramount and MGM


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Image via Paramount and MGM

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