Rodrigo Santoro to Play Jesus Christ in MGM's 'Ben-Hur' Remake (Exclusive)

Rodrigo Santoro

Timur Bekmambetov is directing the retelling, which stars Jack Huston.

MGM and Paramount have found Jesus.

Rodrigo Santoro is in negotiations to portray the Biblical figure and Messiah in Ben-Hur, the studios’ retelling of the classic period sword-and-sandals epic.

Jack Huston is starring as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his onetime friend, Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. He fights his way to freedom and vengeance, with a couple of chariot races thrown in for good measure.

Morgan Freeman is also on board as the man who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. Sofia Black D'Elia and Ayelet Zurer are also in the cast.

Timur Bekmambetov is directing the movie, which is an adaptation of the Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ published in 1880. The book was famously adapted in 1959 in a Charlton Heston epic which won 11 Oscars.

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The story, despite the expected bloodshed, will have a message of forgiveness and Jesus Christ appears several times in the piece. Ben-Hur sees the man preach while in Jerusalem and later sees his crucifixion.

The movie hopes to shoot in Europe this winter and spring.

Santoro, who was last seen in 300: Rise of an Empire, next appears in Warner Bros.' heist thriller, Focus, along with Will Smith and Margot Robbie. That movie opens Feb. 27.

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He also has several films in the can, including Jane Got a Gun, Chilean miners drama The 33 and biopic Pele.

Santoro is repped by ICM Partners and Brillstein Entertainment.

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