Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom, Inc., announced today that principal photography has begun on “BEN-HUR” starring Jack Huston (“AMERICAN HUSTLE”) as Judah Ben-Hur, Morgan Freeman (“THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION”) as Ilderim, Toby Kebbell (“DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES”) as Messala and Nazanin Boniadi (“HOMELAND”) as Esther. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (“WANTED”) and written by Keith Clarke (“THE WAY BACK”) and John Ridley (“12 YEARS A SLAVE”), the film is based on Lew Wallace’s epic novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ. The producers are Sean Daniel (“THE MUMMY” franchise), Mark Burnett (“SON OF GOD”), Joni Levin (“THE WAY BACK”) and Duncan Henderson (“MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD”). Serving as executive producers are Roma Downey (“THE BIBLE”), Keith Clarke, John Ridley and Jason Brown. Filming will take place in Rome and Matera, Italy with the film set for release February 26, 2016.

“BEN-HUR” also stars Rodrigo Santoro (“300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE”) as Jesus Christ, Sofia Black D’Elia (“GOSSIP GIRL”) as Tirzah, Ayelet Zurer (“MAN OF STEEL”) as Naomi, Moises Arias (“ENDER’S GAME”) as Gestas and Pilou Asbæk (“LUCY”) as Pontius Pilate.

“You could not have imagined a more perfect location to shoot this epic than Italy. We can’t wait to get started,” said Bekmambetov. 

The film returns to the heart of Lew Wallace’s epic novel focusing on the nature of faith. The story follows a falsely accused nobleman who survives years of slavery to take vengeance on his best friend who betrayed him. Both must come to choose between retribution or forgiveness.

Behind the scenes, the creative team includes Director of Photography, Oliver Wood (“THE BOURNE IDENTITY”), Production Designer, Naomi Shohan (“AMERICAN BEAUTY”), Costume Designer, Varvava Avdyushko (“WANTED”), Visual Effects Supervisor, Academy Award® Winner Jim Rygiel (“THE LORD OF THE RINGS” Franchise) and Special Effects Supervisor, Andy Williams (“FURY”).

MGM will handle production with Jonathan Glickman, President, Motion Picture Group and Matt Dines, Vice President, Production, overseeing the project on behalf of the studio. The film will be distributed worldwide theatrically and on home entertainment by Paramount Pictures, with select international territories as well as all television distribution to be handled by MGM.

About Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and distribution of film and television content globally. The company owns one of the world’s deepest libraries of premium film and television content.  In addition, MGM has investments in domestic and international television channels and is the majority owner of and distributor for United Artists Media Group (UAMG). For more information, visit

About Paramount Pictures Corporation
Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. Paramount controls a collection of some of the most powerful brands in filmed entertainment, including Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Television, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., and Paramount Studio Group.