Jesus movies and, um, rude bodily noises

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

ben-hur-belch

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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He played Xerxes in 300, now he’s Jesus in the new Ben-Hur

rodrigosantoroContinuing the trend whereby actors of Portuguese and/or Latin American descent play Jesus in movies produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, The Hollywood Reporter revealed today that Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro has been cast as Jesus in Timur Bekmambetov’s upcoming remake of Ben-Hur, which Burnett and Downey are co-producing.

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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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