Tom Hiddleston Eyed for the BEN-HUR Remake

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The cast of Paramount and MGM’s upcoming remake of Charlton Heston’s classic film Ben-Hur is beginning to take shape as the production nears its early next year start date.

Deadline reports that Tom Hiddleston is the studios’ first choice for the role of Judah Ben-Hur in the swords-and-sandals epic, which has Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter director Timur Bekmambetov set to helm.

The Marvel’s The Avengers actor is not locked in just. He’s currently turning over a number of different offers, including another MGM project, Me Before You. But if he’d take the part, he would be the fifth thespian to play the iconic character after Herman Rottger (1907), Ramon Novarro (1925), above-mentioned Heston (1959) and Joseph Morgan (2010).

Casting decisions are expected to be made sooner rather than later.

The latest version of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel was penned by 12 Years a Slave scribe John Ridley from a previous draft by Keith Clarke (The Way Back).

The story will focus “on the nature of faith,” and follows a “falsely accused nobleman who sets out to take vengeance on the best friend who betrayed him.” The story of Jesus Christ will be heavily incorporated and will run parallel to the actions of Judah Ben-Hur throughout the film. It makes sense because Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, producers of The Bible miniseries, are on board to produce here as well. But in the hands of Bekmambetov, this has the making of being epically brutal.

Ben-Hur is set for release on February 26, 2016. They are apparently targeting christian crowds prepping Easter. The Passion of the Christ opened on last weekend of February as well.