'Ben-Hur' Returns To The Silver Screen Featuring A Far More Diverse Cast [Trailers]

Susan Macdonald

Ben-Hur, the classic tale of revenge and redemption, is returning to the silver screen. It was twice filmed as a silent movie in 1907 and 1925. The 1959 remake is considered one of Hollywood's most exciting spectacles. Ben-Hur was the best-selling American novel of the 19th century. It's been successfully adapted into plays in 1889 and 2009, made into an animated film in 2003, a Canadian mini-series in 2010, and now in 2016, Hollywood has remade Ben-Hur again.

This time, the movie is featuring a far more diverse cast. Although Judah Ben-Hur and Messala are played by British actors, other roles are played by African-American, Iranian, Brazilian, Israeli, Turkish, Hispanic, Danish, and Tunisian actors.

"Gone are the eructations and the casual racism. Ilderim now seems to be the biggest figure in the movie—Freeman towers over Jack Huston, the British actor playing Ben-Hur."

Simonides, the loyal slave to Ben-Hur played by Sam Jaffe in 1959, will be played by Turkish actor Haluk Bilginer in this reboot. Bilginer has worked on stage, in television, and in movies in England (EastEnders, New Blood), Turkey (Ezel, Polis)k and Germany (The International).

Marwan Kenzari, a Dutch actor of Tunisian heritage, is the Roman soldier Druses. Kenzari speaks four languages, and has appeared in Autobahn, Wolf, Penoza, and will be in the reboot of The Mummy.

Does the new Ben-Hur herald a new age of diversity in Hollywood? Maybe, maybe not, but at least this reboot gives a small kick to #HollywoodSoWhite.

[Image via Paramount]