Everybody’s Chattin’ + Question of the Week on Tom Hiddleston as Ben Hur

Happy Friday everybody! I’m going to hit two birds with one stone again today in combining two post *series* in one.


Ok, so let’s start with some of my favorite posts from the past week:

  • RIP_RobinWilliamsIt’s been quite a very sad week for film fans… we lost two beloved actors within days of each other. I’m still reeling from Robin Williams‘ sudden passing, which is very tragic indeed. It’s nice to see people’s outpouring of tributes to the comic genius whose lives have been touched by a certain role he did throughout his illustrious career:
    Alex did an In Character post, Andrew and Steven paid tribute listing their favorite roles, Kristin highlights a wonderful scene from his Oscar-winning role Good Will Hunting, and Mark took a break from blogging hiatus to dedicate a Trivia Tribute filled with interesting tidbits. Lastly, Dan posted Top 10 Films of the late actor, whilst Nostra made a Many Faces Of post which illustrates his amazing versatility.
  • RIPLaurenBacallThis week we also lost a beloved classic actress Lauren Bacall. I wish I had seen more of her work, so far I have only seen her in Designing Woman. Well, Keith wrote a lovely tribute filled with beautiful photos and lots of recommendations on her work.
  • On a more cheerful note, Lady Sati shone a spotlight on rising star Chris Pratt, whilst Terrence posted a bunch of new trailers to get excited about some upcoming releases.
  • Michael highlighted a favorite scene from one of my favorite sci-fi movies The Abyss, Mark reviewed a neo noir crime drama Cold in July, whilst Tom ventured out of his comfort zone by watching the period drama Belle, bravo Tom! 😀
  • Tyson‘s been back blogging again and posted some of the Desert Island Classic posts. This time it’s Abbi‘s turn to pick which movies she’d take when she’s stranded.
  • Josh posted his 1971 CinSpec Awards, apparently a great year for movies and I like how The French Connection got plenty of mentions. Meanwhile, Rodney reviewed Transcendence which I still hasn’t got time to check out, and Eric reviewed Sideways, the 2004 dark comedy by Alexander Payne as part of his annual 50 Movie Project.
  • Last but not least, my pal Raul wrote a piece on the Film Inquiry site about Steve McQueen’s Trifecta. Of course we’re talking about the British director, not the classic actor 😀

Now for Question of the Week!

A whole bunch of tweets and casting news have been circulating lately that Tom Hiddleston is wanted for the leading role in the upcoming Ben-Hur adaptation. Now, as a fan of the 1959 film with Charlton Heston, which is actually a remake of a silent 1925 film, I wasn’t immediately keen on this project. Now, I LOVE Biblical epics but it seems that the trend in Hollywood is to forgo the source material and only use the character/story as a base to launch something else entirely *cough* Noah *cough.* You can read my thoughts about Biblical screen adaptations here.

But you know what, the casting of Hiddleston did pique my interest. It’s not final yet but I really hope he’d do it. I think the classically-trained actor would be wonderful in the role. We all know he’s got screen charisma and surely he could play a hero as well as he did a villain.

Hiddles as Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse, London
Hiddles as Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse, London

I’m slightly more hopeful about this project as according to Collider, this film will heavily incorporate the story of Jesus Christ from the book (Lew Wallace’s novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ), which runs parallel to the actions of Judah Ben-Hur throughout the film. What I LOVE about the 1959 film is the spirituality aspect, and the portrayal of Christ is subtle but powerful. In fact, it’s far more affecting than the entire film of Son of God, which brings me to the interesting group of behind-the-scene talents.

We’ve got Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) set as director, with Keith Clarke (The Way Back) and John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) penning the script, AND Mark Burnett & Roma Downey, the pair behind The Bible miniseries & Son of God as producers. Heh I really don’t know what to make of this group. Bekmambetov isn’t the first name on my wish list for a project such as this, and Burnett & Downey’s Son Of God, despite their best intentions, lack a sense of mystique and grandeur that Christ’ story so deserved. So I guess I’m cautiously optimistic with this one. I’d think it’s still tough to top William Wyler Roman epic, even that chariot scene alone with incredible set pieces, thousands of extras and no CGI whatsoever was still one of the most amazing scenes ever filmed.

In any case, if Hiddles accepts this role, it’s already a plus on the casting front. Hopefully we’ll know in a few weeks if he says yay or nay to this. The film’s been scheduled for release on February 26th 2016.

So my question to you is:

What do you think of Tom Hiddleston as Ben-Hur? Thoughts on this project in general?

44 thoughts on “Everybody’s Chattin’ + Question of the Week on Tom Hiddleston as Ben Hur

  1. Thanks for the link Ruth! I really appreciate it. I like Hiddleston…and I love Ben Hur, sans that awful Heston woodlike performance, so bring it on…that is, if they can maintain the integrity of the project!

    1. You’re welcome! Ahah I actually don’t mind Heston’s performance in Ben-Hur, I think that was the style back then. Surely Hiddles would be far more emotive tho.

  2. I’ve been that out of touch recently, Ruth, that I never even heard the news of Hiddelston doing Ben Hur but I kinda welcome the news for a revamp on that. I’m not Charlton Hestons biggest fan after all.

    Still, I’d like to thank you for welcoming be back into the fray so soon with that link. I thought I’d have to build up my audience again, being away for so long and not contributing to others’ sites. 🙂

    1. Hello Mark! The news about Heston is just from this past week, so lots of people probably just heard about it too. Take your time about building your audience again, I think as soon as you start writing again people will surely come back 😀

  3. Thank you for the link, Ruth! Greatly appreciated. Definitely going to have to check out some of the other tributes for Robin Williams.

    Great question – I’m with you on Son of God, even though I haven’t seen it yet. I think Tom Hiddleston would make a great Ben-Hur; his classical training and experience in plays, not to mention his looks, could really be great for the role. I’m a bit wary of the Timur Bekmambetov as director because we haven’t seen him really direct any dramatic or deep stories, and Ben-Hur surely is one. The writers definitely sound capable enough though! Great question – I hope Hiddleston gets the role!

    1. You’re welcome Kris!

      Son Of God could’ve been so much more poignant but they picked an actor who looked more like a model instead of finding someone with a certain inner gravitas like Jim Caviezel. Yeah, I think Hiddle’s Shakespearean training would come in handy in such a role. We haven’t seen him carry a big epic film like that but I think he could do it. I sure hope he’d say yes, sounds like the studio has offered him the part.

  4. Ted S.

    I didn’t even know they were remaking Ben Hur and I don’t think I’m that interested in it. The talents behind the scenes doesn’t excite me either, Timur Bekmambetov is still thinks he’s living the late 90s or early 2000s since most of his films include those super slow-mo action sequences that were popular those decades.

    I’m curious to see if this project will move forward considering Noah didn’t set box office on fire and I’m predicting Scott’s Exodus probably won’t be a smash hit either.

    1. Yeah it’s just a matter of time that Ben-Hur is remade. I remember they made a TV movie of it but I haven’t seen that one. Ha..ha… yeah Timur’s style isn’t exactly my cup of tea either, but I did enjoy Wanted for its preposterousness. But I think Ben-Hur needs a director like Ridley Scott (circa Gladiator time) or even Michael Mann.

  5. This is a story I struggle with because I know so little of the original. I think Hiddleston is a great actor so no qualms there – the real answer is, I should watch Ben Hur!

  6. I haven’t seen the original Ben-Hur, though it’s always been on my to-watch list. If done with a good director, it could be great. But, I fear that special-effects would replace the amazing technicality that went into the first two films – so then, what’s really the point of it?

    1. Hi Katy! Hope you see Ben-Hur soon, Katy, it’s really an epic film. Yep like you said, I hope it won’t be a CGI extravaganza w/ no heart, I’d think a remake should at least be as good or surpass the previous one or like you said, what’s the point?

  7. Sure! Let’s see it….I liked John Ridley’s script from 12 Years a Slave. I have a feeling this will be the historical blockbuster we haven’t seen since Gladiator. 🙂

    1. Hi Cindy! I sure hope your feelings is right on with this one, though right now the only thing I’m optimistic about is the casting, that is if Hiddleston accepts it.

  8. Many thanks for the linkage and grouping me with a stellar set of bloggers, Ruth. Hmm…seems a bit sacrilegious to remake something like Ben-Hur. Why don’t they try another epic, like Lawrence of Arabia, or somethin’ ;-). Well, if they do give this the green light, somebody like Tom Hiddleston as Juda Ben-Hur would make it intriguing enough to get me to see it.

    1. Always a pleasure Michael! Ahah I was thinking the same about it being sacrilegious remaking Ben-Hur, but then again the 1959 film was also a remake. That said, I do think w/ the right talents involved, it’d be great to retell this amazing story again for the next generations. The director is a worrisome for me tho, but Hiddles would be awesome indeed.

  9. Thanks for the link, Ruth! As for your question, I honestly don’t know. Ben Hur is a major blind spot for me — it would make for an excellent candidate in my next project actually. I also feel like I should be more familiar with Tom Hiddleston since his name keeps popping up everywhere, but I think I’ve only seen him in the Avengers.

    1. Hi Eric! Oh I hope you’d add Ben-Hur to your next 50 Movie Projects, it’s really a great film that’s a TRUE epic in every sense of the word, but also has plenty of heart. I think if you aren’t familiar w/ Hiddleston now, you soon will as he’s been cast in a lot of things.

  10. I think I’ll pass on the Ben Hur re-remake. Never a fan of this line of movies and it will probably be cg-heavy anyways. Hiddleston and all. The one thing I will be looking forward to is Hiddleston in Guillermo DelToro’s Crimson Peak.

    1. Not a fan of Biblical movies or just epic in general? I’m actually not looking forward to Crimson Peak at all so I guess we differ big time on this one 😉

  11. Brittani

    I’ve never actually seen Ben Hut, but I might watch it if Hiddleston is in it. I think he’s extremely talented.

  12. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth:

    Such a cock full ‘Everybody’s Chatting’!

    Kudos for all the exceptional links and an intriguing question.

    Mr. Hiddleston has the chops, demeanor and comfort within his own skin to play any kind of character. Recently excelling in playing the epitome of British accented god like bad guys. It should be fun to see him in a heroic dramatic role. As long as the project’s director and writers can get away from Trireme battles and chariot races.

    1. Hi Kevin! Well you said it man, Hiddles is certainly one of the best young British imports these days, and boy I think he’d look good w/ a toga 😉 But Ben-Hur without the chariot race? Now that’s an idea I can’t get behind.

      1. jackdeth72

        Hi, Ruth:

        Mea culpa.

        I didn’t go into enough detail in regard to Trireme battles and chariot races. With directors and short attention span audiences, I fear that a contemporary director and his writers would focus only on those two events, To the detriment of the rest of Juda Ben Hur’s story.

        Feature them, yes. But don’t make the entire film about them. There’s a larger tale to tell.

        1. Oh then I’m totally on board with that. YES of course don’t make it just all about the chariot race or Trireme battle sequences. That’s what I love about the 1959 film, as fantastic as that chariot race was, it did not take over the entire film. Juda’s story is such a rich & layered one, so yeah, we’re in agreement on this one Kevin 😀

  13. Not having seen Ben Hur I can’t really say if I think Tom is right for the role, but I love to see him in anything. What I find strange is Bekmambetov as director. I don’t think his style suits the material at all. Wanted is his most straightforward film. Have you seen Night Watch and Day Watch? Those are super trippy.

    1. Hi Fernando! If you have seen him as Loki and loved him in that role then you know Hiddles is very charismatic. That role requires a charismatic actor so that’s why I think he’d be great. No I haven’t seen Timur’s vampire horror movies but I’d guess it’d be trippy. But based on what I saw in Wanted & that Abe Lincoln movie, I think he’s a rather odd choice as director.

  14. Thank you for the link! Well, I’d see anything for Hiddleston even if it is based on the Bible. If he was in Noah I’d already watch instead of attempting to….twice.

  15. Hiddleston isn’t the first person I think of when I hear Ben-Hur, but he’s very talented so I wouldn’t worry too much about him in the role. I’m much more concerned with the director. What exactly are the money people seeing to make them think he would do a good job with such a movie?

    1. Hi Wendell! Yeah I’m baffled as well by the decision to give this to Timur. I really hope he has something else up his sleeve I’ve never seen before but from what I’ve seen, I don’t know why he’d do a good job with such a film. Btw, I take it you’ve seen the 1959 film?

      1. I have seen the ’59 picture which is why Hiddleston doesn’t leap to mind for the role. When I hear the name Ben Hur I automatically think Charlton Heston. Like I said, though, Hiddleston’s a talented guy.

  16. Thanks for the link love, Ruth. Imma have to check out some of the others, especially the Lauren Bacall stuff – I feel bad because I don’t think I’ve seen any of her films!

  17. Thanks for the link, Ruth! 🙂

    I’m also cautiously optimistic about Hiddleston in Ben-Hur. If he’s in it, I’ll definitely see it, but I’m wondering how the relationship between the director, producers and writers will work. The film might be one big mess.

  18. Pingback: Question of the week: Which casting news are you excited about from the past few weeks? |

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