Casting news: The Shack, Of Kings and Prophets, Ben-Hur

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1. Big news regarding Stuart Hazeldine’s adaptation of The Shack: Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for The Help, has been cast as God — or at least as one of the manifestations of God. (In the book, God appears as a black woman, a Middle Eastern carpenter, and an Asian woman.) Back when Forest Whitaker was going to direct the film, it was widely buzzed that his The Butler co-star Oprah Winfrey might get this part, but Spencer is probably a better choice: more versatile, less baggage.

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Our first look at Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus in Ben-Hur

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Timur Bekmambetov’s remake of Ben-Hur is now nearing the end of its second week of production, and the unofficial photos keep on coming. Last week we had pictures of Judah Ben-Hur, his girlfriend Esther and possibly one of the rebels who ends up crucified next to Jesus. This week’s batch includes our first pictures of Jesus himself, as played by Rodrigo Santoro. You can check ’em all out at the Daily Mail.

Who’s holding the bow & arrow in these new Ben-Hur pics?

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Filming on the new version of Ben-Hur began in Italy last Monday, and pictures from the set have begun to pop up. The Gazzetta Del Sud has a rather low-res photo of extras in costume standing outdoors in Matera — a town that has been featured in a number of Bible movies going back to The Gospel According to St. Matthew — and now the Daily Mail has pictures of a few of the movie’s stars in character.

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The Ben-Hur remake has started principal photography

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The third feature-film adaptation of Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur started principal photography in Italy today. The press release doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know about the cast, but it does let us know a bit more about the crew behind the camera. Check it out below the jump. (The studio did not release any pictures from the film’s first day on set, so the picture above comes from the 1959 film.)

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Jesus movies and, um, rude bodily noises

Warning: This post includes a few irreverent images from irreverent films.

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Years ago, I used to say that if I ever made a movie about Jesus, I would include a scene in which he excuses himself to use the facilities (whatever they might have been in the first century), just to show that his humanity extended even to his “lower” bodily functions. I was reminded of that the other day when Bilge Ebiri, one of the critics who caught the Last Days in the Desert premiere at Sundance this week, wondered on Twitter if this was the first Jesus movie to have a “fart joke”.

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Pilou replaces Pedro Pascal as Pontius Pilate in Ben-Hur

hijacking-pilouBack in October, I wrote that Gal Gadot had been cast as the female lead in Ben-Hur, while Pedro Pascal had been cast as Pontius Pilate. Well, I’ll never need to link to that post again, since Gadot quickly dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, and now The Wrap reports that Pascal has dropped out as well, and that the producers are talking to Pilou Asbæk about playing Pontius Pilate instead. Asbæk, who is Danish, played the shady boyfriend who gets Scarlett Johansson involved with the drug smugglers in Lucy. He also co-starred in the Danish film A Hijacking.


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