Scene-stealer Jack Huston is now accepting title roles. The London-born actor has been cast as Ben-Hur in the upcoming remake of the 1959 epic, which originally starred Charlton Heston. Best known for playing disfigured WWI veteran Richard Harrow on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Huston appeared in Kill Your Darlings and American Hustle, but Ben-Hur marks his first starring role in a major studio film. In fact, this may be the movie that cements Huston’s place in his family’s Hollywood pantheon: He’s the nephew of actors Danny and Anjelica Huston, the grandson of legendary director John Huston, and the great-grandson of Oscar-winning actor Walter Huston.
Charlton Heston in the 1959 ‘Ben-Hur’
Ben-Hur, which originated as a 1925 silent film, tells the story of two friends, the Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur and the Roman citizen Messala, living in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus Christ. When their loyalties clash, Messala destroys his friend’s life, leading Ben-Hur to seek his revenge in the chariot arena. In addition to Huston, Morgan Freeman has been cast as Ildarin, the man who teaches Ben-Hur to race chariots like a champion. The 1959 film, directed by William Wyler (coincidentally a close friend of Jack’s grandfather John Huston), won a record 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.
While Hollywood is clearly in Jack Huston’s blood, being part of the Huston clan nearly scared him away from stardom. “I went to the Academy Awards with my aunt [Anjelica Huston] when I was, like, 19, and I remember walking the red carpet. I think that put me off ever wanting to do it again,” Jack told Details in 2010. “I was just shell-shocked. There are so many people, and they are literally yelling at you!”
Huston with his aunt Anjelica Huston in 2009
Since then, Huston has gotten over his fear of red carpets. Prior to his casting in Ben-Hur, Huston was one of several actors being considered for the role of Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy. Rumor has it that he was also in the running for the title role in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.
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