Morgan Freeman is portraying Ildarin, the man who teaches the title character to become a champion chariot racer. The studios are reportedly close to finding the two main characters, Judah Ben-Hur and his former friend turned bitter rival Messalla. We reported last month that Tom Hiddleston was being courted to play Ben-Hur, but it remains unclear whether or not he will accept the role. It isn't known what other actors are in contention for these two main characters.
The reboot is said to stick closer to the original 1880 Lew Wallace novel than the 1959 movie Ben-Hur did. The focus is still on the feud between Ben-Hur and the treacherous Messalla, who betrays his longtime friend and frames him for an accident, causing Ben-Hur to be sold into slavery. This version will also include the parallel story of Jesus Christ, which wasn't included in the first adaptation, although the reboot will also lead up to the famed chariot races towards the end.
Timur Bekmambetov is directing from a script originally written by Keith R. Clarke, with John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) providing a rewrite. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are producing alongside Sean Daniel and Joni Levin.