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Roma Downey, ‘Ben-Hur’ Cast at L.A. Premiere: The Film is Not a Remake

The stars gathered in Hollywood for the L.A. premiere of the new epic film “Ben-Hur” on Tuesday evening.

Celebrities including Omarosa Manigault, Terry Crews and Jon Voight joined cast members Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro and Ayelet Zurer for a star-studded red carpet. Zurer, Kebbell and producer Sean Daniel were all quick to note that the film is not a remake of William Wyler’s 1959 masterpiece of the same name.

“We wouldn’t think of trying to remake the 1959 ‘Ben-Hur,’” said Daniel. “It’s a re-imagining based on the book. Obviously we’re drawing from the same book, and of course we’re portraying some of the same epic scenes, but I wouldn’t call it a ‘remake.’”

Executive producer Roma Downey also stated that the film isn’t a remake, though she felt the time was right for another adaptation of Lew Wallace’s iconic book.

“It’s been almost 60 years since the Charlton Heston film,” Downey said. “There is a whole generation of people who haven’t even seen the 1959 film. And there are so many differences in this version, so if you brought grandpa along, he wouldn’t recognize it.”

To prepare for their respective roles in the film, the actors spent excessive time researching the religious subtext present in the text. Zurer stated that she read the original book to prepare for her role as Judah Ben-Hur’s mother, Naomi.

“I tried to read it in English, but I’m not a native English speaker so it was hard for me because the language was so outdated,” the Israeli-born actress said. “[Naomi] is, in today’s language, a single mother handling the household. She’s very strong, and she doesn’t like change and doesn’t like to gamble on the status of the household.”

“Ben-Hur,” is scheduled for worldwide release Aug. 19.

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