Initially, Tom “Loki” Hiddlestone was targeted as the main actor Ben-Hur. However, in the end, it was Jack Huston who was considered more suitable than Taylor Swift’s ex-girlfriend.
Director Timur Bekmambetov, who has produced Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), believes Jack Huston is very suitable to be Ben-Hur. According to him, Jack is an experienced horseman. Which, as it were, was born in Roman times.
Jack Huston himself spent 2.5 months just practicing horse-drawn carriage. The scene which was shot in Italy, at first, was scary. Like a Formula 1 race. The main actor in the television film Spartacus (2004) admitted that he was scared to death on the first day. However, gradually, his worries disappeared. And he became used to it.
Producer Mark Burnett stated that the Ben-Hur film does not use special effects for racing. Filming involved 32 horses and eight chariots. All the horse carriages circled around the arena at high speed. Which, even, at times, is only with one wheel. Which is really driven by the actors themselves. CGI effects, in fact, are still used. However, only for crash scenes. For the safety of the souls of the players.When you watch the trailer for this film, which was released by Paramount Pictures, the action scenes presented by Ben-Hur are indeed quite exciting. At first glance, it looks like the Oscars-winning best film: Gladiator (2000). Starring Russell Crowe. Many scenes of battles in the arena and wars between slaves and Roman soldiers. In fact, for the racing scene, some say Ben-Hur is similar to the Fast and Furious franchise. However, in this film, the speeding is not a car, but a horse-drawn carriage.
Besides Jack Huston, this 125-minute film also stars various multiracial actors. Unlike Gods of Egypt (2016) and Exodus: Gods & Kings (2014). The two colossal films set in Ancient Egypt are considered to feature too many white actors. aka whitewash.
Among the multiracial cast in Ben-Hur, the most eye-catching is the actress of Persian descent: Nazanin Boniadi. That super pretty one. In this film, the girl who has appeared in the television series Homeland (2011) with Claire Danes plays Esther. A Jewish slave. Who became Ben-Hur’s lover. According to Nazanin Boniadi, the Esther character she plays in the latest Ben-Hur film is stronger and independent. Especially, when compared to the old film version.
Besides Nazanin Boniadi, Ben-Hur is also strengthened by a senior black actor: Morgan Freeman. Who became Sheik Ilderim. In addition, in this film, there is also a Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro. Whose appearance as Jesus Christ is worth the wait. Who once played the Persian King Xerxes in the film 300 (2006). Starring Gerard Butler.
However, unfortunately, despite being decorated by a series of multi-ethnic actors, Ben-Hur has not been able to attract the audience. Since its release in the United States on August 19, 2016, this USD 100 million budget film “only” grossed USD 89 million globally. Which is not enough for just a return on investment.
MGM became the party most affected by the failure of Ben-Hur to penetrate the box office. The studio producing the James Bond franchise is indeed the party that bears 80 percent of the production costs of this film. They can’t afford to relive the sweet memories of releasing the old version of Ben-Hur in 1959.