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.

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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?

RIP Robin Williams… oh how you will be sorely missed.

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I can’t believe I had to do another in memoriam posts when the sting of the last one hasn’t quite left me yet. I was just about to get on the elliptical machine at my gym when I saw my friend texted me: “Robin William died. OMG.”

Then I looked up at the rows of TV sets above the gym equipments, and sure enough… his face was splashed on the telly, along with the indescribable and incomprehensible caption: Robin Williams Dead at 63 in apparent suicide.

My heart sank.

In fact, it’s now four and a half hours after I learned of his passing… and it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. How could a man who brought up so much joy and laughter to so many people… could not find anything in his heart to be cheerful about? This was after all the same man who made his best friend and former Julliard School roommate Christopher Reeve laughed for the first time after his horse-riding accident that left him paralyzed. It was he who inspired Reeve to embrace life during the darkest moments of his life. Williams too was the go-to comic relief that even Steven Spielberg relied on to cheer up his cast during filming of Schindler’s List [per IMDb]. Here’s a photo of the two of them at People’s Choice Awards in 1979 courtesy of Biography.com.

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But I don’t pretend to know anything about depression and how it could overpower even the unlikeliest person, those we THINK didn’t have a care in the world, those with a seemingly la di da attitude… As someone who grew up with a mother who suffered from mental illness, I knew that the outside world never thought she was depressed or had a mental imbalance of any kind. She was a vivacious, cheerful, life-of-the-party type who seemed to have it all together. The fact is, nobody knows just what goes on inside a person. No one. At times not even the person in question… The fact that Mr Williams lived his life in the public eye must have made it all the more difficult.

I just want to take a brief moment to reminisce on what an amazingly gifted performer he is… truly one of a kind in every sense of the word. My first intro to the ferociously funny man wasn’t actually a full-on comedic role, though of course his comic timing was still on display. It was his role in Dead Poets Society as English teacher John Keating, a warm and passionate mentor who inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day. Carpe Diem! I knew what that word represent before I fully knew what it meant. It’s eerie to think that he’s succumbed to the same fate as one of his students in that film.

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As I mull over his sudden passing this evening… I watched a bunch of clips of him in various movies and interviews, often with tears in my eyes… tears of sadness mixed with tears of laughter as I watched him being his crazy, zany self. I can’t count how many of his roles have become my favorites: Mrs Doubtfire, Nine Months, What Dreams May Come, The Birdcage, Good Will Hunting, and so on… he’s a lovable comedian to be sure, yet his villainous roles also made an impression, i.e. Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia.

Spanning over a hundred projects he’s completed, including voice work for TV & movies, he never seemed to run out of steam. Even as he underwent heart surgery and multiple rehabs, whenever he’s back on screen, he’s always in ‘firing all cylinders’ mode, never missing a beat. Oh how he will be missed. One thing for sure, I will treasure the wonderful performances Mr. Williams had blessed everyone, ardent movie fans and casual movie goers alike.

My heart goes out to his wife and three children. I will keep them in my prayers.


Thank you Mr. Williams for all the gifts of laughter and joys you’ve bestowed upon us. Your life was truly extraordinary… if only it weren’t gone too soon.