Remember how Russell Crowe and Darren Aronofsky tried to get a blessing from Pope Francis during the run-up to the release of Noah last year? And how there was some confusion as to whether or not they did, in fact, get to meet the Pope in the end?
Well, Paramount Pictures evidently learned its lesson from that experience, and made a point today of ensuring not only that one of the stars of their upcoming remake of Ben-Hur met the Pope — and long before the movie was finished shooting, to boot — but that there was photographic evidence of the meeting in question.
Thus, Paramount sent out a press release today that basically consisted of two photos under the headline “Pope Francis blessed actor Rodrigo Santoro, who plays Jesus Christ in the upcoming epic BEN-HUR, at the Papal Audience at St Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Wednesday, April 15th.” Here are the photos in question:
The woman with Rodrigo Santoro in the bottom photo is Nazanin Boniadi, who plays Esther, the Jewish slave girl who falls in love with Judah Ben-Hur.
This is not the first time we have seen Santoro with his biblical hair and beard, by the way. Some unofficial pictures of him in costume first surfaced in February.
It is not clear whether Pope Francis knew that the bearded man he was blessing was an actor playing Jesus. He might have thought Santoro was just another pilgrim attending one of the Papal Audiences, which take place every Wednesday.
Update: Turns out Boniadi has posted some more pictures to Instagram, e.g.:
You can see Ben-Hur executive producer Roma Downey in this one:
So far, the only behind-the-scenes Ben-Hur picture Boniadi has posted is this one: