Morgan Freeman has joined the cast of MGM’s completely unnecessary reboot of the classic sword-and-sandals epic "Ben-Hur," based on the 1880 Lew Wallace novel "Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ."
That Timur Bekmambetov ("Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Wanted") is attached to direct, makes this an even tougher pill for me to swallow, given the filmmaker’s usual style. This reboot will probably be closer in look and feel to films like "300" than anything resembling the 1959 Charleton Heston film, directed by William Wyler, that cleaned up at the Oscars that year (there was an even earlier adaptation in the 1920s).
John Ridley is rewriting the script for MGM.
Freeman has signed up to play Ildarin, the man who sponsors and grooms the slave Ben-Hur to become a champion chariot racer. In the 1959 film, the character’s name is Ilderim, and he’s an Arab sheikh, played by actor Hugh Griffith, who won an Oscar for his performance.
I suspect the character might be re-imagined for the upcoming reboot, especially given the slight name change.
The film is currently scheduled for a 2016 release, with principal photography set to start next spring.