EXCLUSIVE: Pedro Pascal, who made an indelible impression on the last season of HBO’s Game Of Thrones, is in talks to play Pontius Pilate in the Timur Bekmambetov-directed Ben-Hur remake at MGM and Paramount. In Game Of Thrones, Pascal played Oberyn Martell (also called the Red Viper of Dorne), who volunteered to fight a death battle in the arena to win the freedom of accused king killer Tyrion Lannister. The Viper engaged in battle with The Mountain, a brutish warrior who years before had raped and murdered Oberyn’s sister. Oberyn had the brute dead to rights, but got a little careless and too close, and ended up on the wrong end of The Mountain’s crushing grip. But Pascal stayed around long enough to make a strong impression.
If talks with Pascal work out, he will join Jack Huston, as well as Toby Kebbell, Morgan Freeman and Gal Gadot in the film. Production begins early next year in Europe for February 26, 2016 release.
Pontius Pilate plays a significant role in this version of Ben-Hur, which hews closer to the 1880 Lew Wallace novel and its parallel storyline to Jesus Christ than did the 1959 William Wyler-directed film that won the Best Actor Academy Award to Charlton Heston, and 10 other Oscars. The script is by Keith Clarke and 12 Years A Slave‘s John Ridley did the rewrite. Mark Burnett, Sean Daniel and Joni Levin are producers, with Clarke and Jason Brown exec producing with Roma Downey. The main drama is the blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur (Huston) and Messala (Kebbell), who grew up best friends before the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem. Ben-Hur was a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector. After the latter leaves to be educated in Rome for five years, the young man returns with a different attitude and mocks Judah and his religion. When a procession passes by Judah’s house and a roof tile accidentally falls and hits the governor, Messala betrays his childhood friend and manipulates the accident so that Judah is sold into slavery and certain death on a Roman warship, with his mother and sister thrown in prison for life. Judah vows revenge, culminating in the famed chariot races.
WME Entertainment and Untitled rep Pascal.