Published On: Tue, Sep 23rd, 2014

Toby Kebbell joins ‘Ben-Hur’ remake as the villain, Messala

Director Timur Bekmambetov‘s Ben-Hur remake is moving ahead by quickly adding another cast member to join Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman. Now the role of villain, Ben-Hur’s nemesis, Messala, will be played by Toby Kebbell.

Stephen Boyd as Messala in Ben-Hur

Stephen Boyd portrayed Messala in the 1959 “Ben-Hur”

Kebbell is stringing together several roles as the villain, “As for Kebbell, the British actor has become a go-to antagonist in Hollywood. Besides playing Doctor Doom in Fox’s upcoming reboot The Fantastic Four, Kebbell was recently seen as playing Koba, the rival to Caesar, in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Variety reports.

Stephen Boyd played the Messala character in the 1959 classic. It has been reported that Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur will be a faithful adaptation of Lew Wallace‘s 1880 novel. Keith Clarke (The Way Back) wrote the script, and John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) did a rewrite.

Variety notes the studio also created Noah which was met with mixed reviews, a negative response from Evangelical Christians, but performed well as the box office.

Boardwalk Empire star Jack Huston will play the lead and Freeman has been added as Ben-Hur’s mentor named Ildarin.

Ben-Hur lands in theaters February 26, 2016. Shooting begins early next year in Europe.

Original Ben-Hur synopsis via IMDB:

Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Together with the new governor his old friend Messala arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. At first they are happy to meet after a long time but their different politic views separate them. During the welcome parade a roof tile falls down from Judah’s house and injures the governor. Although Messala knows they are not guilty, he sends Judah to the galleys and throws his mother and sister into prison. But Judah swears to come back and take revenge.

Deadline provided this new synopsis of the remake:

This version of Ben-Hur plays up the parallel storyline of Jesus Christ, but the main drama is the blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur and Messala, who grew up best friends before the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem. Ben-Hur was a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector. After the latter leaves to be educated in Rome for five years, the young man returns with a different attitude and mocks Judah and his religion. When a procession passes by Judah’s house and a roof tile accidentally falls and hits the governor, Messala betrays his childhood friend and manipulates the accident so that Judah is sold into slavery and certain death on a Roman warship, with his mother and sister thrown in prison for life. Judah vows revenge, culminating in the famed chariot races.


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- Stephen is a contributor and writer on The Dispatch. Stephen is the founder and editor for the Steven Spielberg Fan Club website and contributes to pop culture stories on The Dispatch, especially upcoming movie news. Beginning in 2016, Stephen took the role of Managing Editor for the Tampa Dispatch.

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