Last time we checked in with Timur Bekmambetov’s remake of the William Wyler classic Ben-Hur, the project was gaining cast members at a steady clip, including Morgan Freeman and Boardwalk Empire star Jack Huston in the title role. Now the project is hoping to add another actor who should be familiar to fans of HBO prestige dramas: Pedro Pascal, who quickly became a fan favorite in the most recent season of Game Of Thrones as Oberyn Martell, a.k.a. The Red Viper Of Dorne. Deadline reports (do not click that link if you don’t want to be spoiled on one of the biggest recent developments on Game Of Thrones) that Pascal is in talks to play Pontius Pilate, who apparently plays a much more significant role in this version of the story, which was written by Keith Clarke and John Ridley, and hews much closer to the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. Gal Gadot is also in the “in talks” stage to play the film’s female lead, the slave Esther, who serves as Ben-Hur’s romantic interest.
If this casting pans out, and if Pilate does indeed play a more significant part in Bekmambetov’s version than in Wyler’s (where Frank Thring played the minor role), it would be a major coup for the 39-year-old Pascal, who’s worked primarily in television for the last decade or so. Pascal proved he has a way with ambiguously moral characters in his performance as Oberyn Martell, which could translate very well to the character of Pontius Pilate, who oversaw the trial of Jesus Christ and (reluctantly) sentenced him to death. At any rate, if he gets the part, this Pilate has the potential to be the sexiest Roman governor the big screen has ever seen. (Sorry, Frank Thring.) Production on Ben-Hur is scheduled to begin next year, with the film scheduled for release in February (gulp, bad sign) of 2016.