MGM and Paramount are starting to put together their cast for the Ben-Hur remake, and they have their sights set high for the lead role. Deadline reports that Tom Hiddleston is being courted to play Judah Ben-Hur in the Biblical epic, which has Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter director Timur Bekmambetov set to helm. The pic is based on the original novel by Lew Wallace, which was subsequently turned into a classic 1959 film starring Charlton Heston. Bemkambetov’s version is described as focusing on the nature of faith, as it follows a falsely accused nobleman who sets out to take vengeance on the best friend who betrayed him. Hit the jump for more on the prospect of Hiddleston’s casting.
The folks at Deadline report that Hiddleston is apparently the top choice to fill Heston’s shoes in the Ben-Hur remake, but they caution that it’s not nearly a done deal. Hiddleston is also mulling over an offer for another MGM pic, Me Before You, as well as a few other films. He recently wrapped Guillermo del Toro’s gothic romance Crimson Peak and is currently shooting director Ben Wheatley’s thriller High-Rise alongside Luke Evans. He also has I Saw the Light on tap, in which he will play legendary country star Hank Williams.
Ben-Hur has a curious pedigree, as Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley wrote the most recent draft of the script and The Bible producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey recently joined the project as producers. The film will heavily incorporate the story of Jesus Christ from the book, which runs parallel to the actions of Judah Ben-Hur throughout the film. Ben-Hur already has a release date of February 26, 2016 in place, so MGM and Paramount are likely looking to start production by early next year. It will no doubt be a lengthy shoot, so it’ll be interesting to see if Hiddleston signs on. We should learn more in the coming weeks.