Timur Bekmambetov is directing the epic period picture for Paramount and MGM
“Boardwalk Empire” alum Huston stars as the titular Jewish prince who is forced into slavery by his former friend Messala (Toby Kebbell).
Cooke has the offer for Tirzah, Ben-Hur’s sister, who in the original 1959 film was imprisoned by Messala along with her mother, to be played in this version by “Man of Steel” actress Ayelet Zurer. Formal negotiations have not yet begun, however, as Cooke is being considered for several other high-profile movies that are taking shape around town.
Cathy O’Donnell played Tirzah in her brother-in-law William Wyler’s classic movie, which proved to be her final film role.
Morgan Freeman and Pedro Pascal will co-star in the epic period picture, which will employ today’s cutting-edge technology to reimagine the original film’s classic chariot race.
Gal Gadot had been in talks to play the female lead of Esther, Ben-Hur’s true love. The Israeli actress was forced to bow out of the project due to her commitment as Wonder Woman in WB’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” as TheWrap first reported.
Keith Clarke and John Ridley wrote the script, which is based on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.”
Mark Burnett is producing with Sean Daniel and Joni Levin, while Roma Downey is executive producing with Clarke, Ridley and Jason Brown. Production will begin early next year in Europe in advance of a February 2016 release.
Cooke helped power the low-budget horror movie “Ouija” to a $58 million worldwide gross to date. The young British actress stars on “Bates Motel” and recently wrapped Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” with Thomas Mann, Jon Bernthal and Nick Offerman.
Cooke, whose recent feature credits include the genre films “The Signal” and “The Quiet Ones,” is represented by the Gersh Agency, Luber Roklin Entertainment and Shepherd Management.