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‘300: Rise of an Empire’ star to play Jesus in ‘Ben-Hur’ reboot

LOS ANGELES — “300: Rise of an Empire” star Rodrigo Santoro is in negotiations to portray Jesus in the “Ben-Hur” reboot for MGM and Paramount.

Mark Burnett, Sean Daniel and Joni Levin are producing the film, set for release on Feb. 26, 2016.

“Wanted” director Timur Bekmambetov is helming from a screenplay originally written by Keith Clarke, with revisions by “12 Years a Slave” writer John Ridley, who will exec produce along with Clarke and Jason F. Brown.

The project began taking shape in 2013 when MGM acquired Clarke’s script, an adaptation of Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.” That story focuses on the years prior to those portrayed the 1959 film, centering on the characters Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem, and his childhood friend Messala, who returns home as a commanding officer of the Roman legions and betrays the Ben-Hur family.

The novel is in the public domain. The 1959 movie, which was set in ancient Rome, was directed by William Wyler and produced by Sam Zimbalist. It starred Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins and Hugh Griffith and won 11 Oscars, including best picture.

The 1925 movie version of “Ben-Hur,” starring Ramon Novarro and Francis X. Bushman, was also a major success.

The reboot stars Jack Huston as the titular Jewish prince betrayed into slavery by Messala, played by Toby Kebbell.

Santoro is in Warner Bros.’ “Focus” with Will Smith and Margot Robbie. He’s repped by ICM Partners and Brillstein Entertainment.

News was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

 

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