With a release date of February 26, 2016 already set for the studios' forthcoming adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel, the "Avengers" star is being eyed to take on the title role in the film for director Timur Bekmambetov ("The Darkest Hour"), according to Deadline. If Hiddleston were to take on the part, he would be the fifth actor to play the iconic character after Herman Rottger (1907), Ramon Novarro (1925), Charlton Heston (1959) and Joseph Morgan (2010).
Set in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century, "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" tells the story of Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur and his rivalry with childhood friend Messala, a Roman commanding officer who has him falsely convicted for an alleged assassination attempt on the Roman governor. After being condemned to the Roman galleys, Judah later returns to Jerusalem to seek revenge on Messala - a scenario that culminates in the climactic chariot race made famous by William Wyler's Oscar-winning 1959 version of the story. Unlike that film, the new adaptation will give more weight to the parallel story of Jesus Christ that unfolds in the original novel.
The latest version of "Ben-Hur" was penned by Oscar-winning "12 Years a Slave" screenwriter John Ridley from a previous draft by Keith Clarke ("The Way Back"); Mark Burnett and Roma Downey ("The Bible") are serving as producers.
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