Ouija star Olivia Cooke may play Judah Ben-Hur’s sister

oliviacookeBen-Hur’s family is coming together. Just two days after it was announced that 45-year-old Ayelet Zurer is in talks to play the title character’s mother in the new version of Ben-Hur, The Wrap reports that Ouija star Olivia Cooke, who turns 21 next month, is being considered for the part of Judah Ben-Hur’s sister Tirzah. Judah himself is being played by Jack Huston, who turns 32 next month. (In the 1959 movie, Judah and Tirzah were played by Charlton Heston and Cathy O’Donnell, who were both 35, and their mother was played by Martha Scott, who was 46. In the 2010 miniseries, Judah was played by Joseph Morgan, 28; Tirzah was played by Kristin Kreuk, 27; and their mother was played by Alex Kingston, 46.)

The mother of Kal-El is in talks to play the mother of Ben-Hur

ayeletzurerGal Gadot may be out as the love interest in Ben-Hur, due to the fact that she’s too busy playing Wonder Woman, but another Israeli actress with experience in the DC Comics movie universe is stepping in — to play Judah Ben-Hur’s mother, rather than his lover.

The Hollywood Reporter says Ayelet Zurer, who played Superman’s mother in Man of Steel, is in talks to play Naomi, one of two women in Ben-Hur’s family (the other is his sister Tirzah) who, in the original story at least, are sent to prison and become lepers there after Ben-Hur is betrayed by his former friend Messala.

Zurer’s other high-profile English-language films include Munich and Angels & Demons.

Ben-Hur’s mother doesn’t have a name in the original novel. In the 1959 film starring Charlton Heston she was called Miriam and played by the distinctly non-Israeli Martha Scott. (Fun fact: Ben-Hur marked the second time that Scott played Heston’s mother onscreen, following the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments.)

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Another actor joins the Romans in the new Ben-Hur remake

marwankenzari2Deadline reports that Marwan Kenzari, a Dutch actor of Tunisian descent, has joined the cast of Ben-Hur in the role of Druses, a Roman officer who works for Messala, the Roman official who betrays his boyhood friend Judah Ben-Hur.

Druses appears to be identical to Drusus, a character from the original novel who appeared in the 1959 film, where he was played by Terence Longdon. (The 1925 and 2010 adaptations don’t seem to have any characters with either name, at least not according to their IMDb pages.)

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Ben-Hur has found its Esther and its Pontius Pilate

pascal-gadotTimur Bekmambetov’s upcoming remake of Ben-Hur may be different from the 1959 version in a number of ways, but in one way it will be remarkably similar: it will feature an Israeli beauty-contest winner as Esther, the Jewish slave girl that Judah Ben-Hur falls in love with.

In 1959, the part was played by Haya Harareet, who won one of the first beauty contests in Israel after that nation came into being in 1948; and now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the part will be played by former Miss Israel Gal Gadot.

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Is “God” missing from Darren Aronofsky’s Noah? Please.

Reviews of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah have been trickling out for a few days now — you can read my own first impressions here — and one of the more puzzling remarks I’ve come across so far is a bit from Todd McCarthy’s review in The Hollywood Reporter.

Specifically, McCarthy, who likes the film, asserts in passing that Noah “will rile some for the complete omission of the name ‘God’ from the dialogue”.

When I first read that, I wondered who McCarthy could possibly be referring to. Who, exactly, would be so easy to offend, so eager to nitpick the smallest detail, so ready to assume the worst about this movie that they would live up to the stereotype invoked by McCarthy and actually make an issue of this?

Enter Breitbart News.

To be fair, Big Hollywood — the Breitbart website that has been hostile towards Noah ever since it published a critique of an early draft of the script in October 2012 — devotes only a few sentences to this bit from McCarthy’s review. But devote them, it does, quoting that one line and commenting that the absence of this word “might make the movie a harder sell to its intended audience–faith-friendly viewers.”

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Bible films (and other ancient epics) and Oscar nominations

As I mentioned yesterday, Son of God is coming to theatres the same weekend that this year’s Oscar ceremony takes place. This got me thinking: with three different Bible movies coming out this year, might we see any of these films represented at next year’s Academy Awards?

This, in turn, got me wondering what kind of attention the Bible-movie genre has received from the Academy in the past. We all know about Ben-Hur (1959) and its record-setting 11 awards, but what about all the other Bible epics (and not-so-epics) that have been produced over the years?

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