Ben-Hur is a ‘flawed hero’
A love of film is a family business for English-American actor, Jack Huston. His father is writer, actor and director, Tony Huston and his aunt is none other than Oscar winner, Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor, NBC’s Smash). Growing up around film sets, it was only a matter of time before Huston, 33, became the fourth generation of his family to dawn our screens.
Huston gained recognition for appearing as Richard Harrow in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. In 2016, he snagged his first lead role starring as Judah in Paramount Pictures remake of the timeless epic Ben-Hur.
Huston recently spoke to Relevant about taking on such an iconic role.
“I always say the great thing about Judah is that he’s a hero, but he’s a flawed hero. When I say ‘flawed’, that’s the greatest type of character, because it’s human,” said Huston.
“The themes of redemption, of forgiveness, of love. We are human, we are flawed, and it’s coming to terms with those flaws. How do we drop our baggage and look into the future rather than looking into the past?”
For those who need a refresher, Ben-Hur follows the tale of Judah, a man who is wrongly accused of treason by his adopted brother. As punishment, he is sent to work at sea before returning home to seek revenge. Judah’s journey challenges him to choose between vengeance and forgiveness, while crossing paths with Jesus at key biblical points.
This 2016 remake comes more than a century after the Lew Wallace first published the novel titled Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, in 1880.
Filmed in Italy, the city of Rome once again staged this epic, as well as the city of Matera that recreated an ancient Jerusalem backdrop.
In this remake, modern cinematography delivers an impressive sequence of the polarising naval and chariot scenes. Huston called the 14-16 hour days of filming these scenes as brutal especially with the amount of physical training and learning horse-riding techniues.
“Every time you see our faces going around on those chariots-that’s us doing it…and when you first do it (chariot racing), you’re convinced you are going to die,” said Huston.
In the shadow of the 1959 film’s success that collected 11 Academy Awards, director Timur Bekmambetov had the daunting task of bringing something new but honouring the story.
Huston explains that the difference between this film and the versions before it is that you get to experience Jesus in a new way.
“In the Wyler version you only get to see Jesus from the back. I’m very happy Timur did it the way he did. Judah sees Jesus as a man, as a carpenter. And in moments of need, Jesus shows him such kindness during need-a lesson of how to treat your fellow man,” said Huston.
Ben-Hur is out on DVD on 1 December.