LOS ANGELES – The highly-anticipated remake of "Ben-Hur" hits theaters this weekend and actor Toby Kebbell reveals the miracle he witnessed while filming the Paramount Pictures/MGM action-packed movie.
"Ben-Hur" is the epic telling of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his own adopted brother Messala (Kebbell), who is a Roman army officer. Ben-Hur was removed from his position and was separated from his family and Esther (Nazanin Boniadi), the woman he loves, as he was exiled to become a slave.
But after years of traveling on sea and a sudden shipwreck, Ben-Hur encounters Ilderim (Morgan Freeman), who later on becomes his mentor. He tells Ben-Hur to take revenge against his brother through a chariot race instead of killing him directly. He then prepares him for the deadly monumental race. The overarching theme of the film, however, is forgiveness, as throughout his journey Ben-Hur encounters Jesus and is changed by his example.
"For me the joy of playing a role like this is the clear choice, the immediate choice, the choice that feels so powerful but is actually just forceful, is the one of revenge. 'How dare you the one that love me harbor a criminal? How dare you embarrass me?' All of these ridiculous, pompous, prideful statements," Kebbell told The Christian Post in a recent screening, about his character.
"It was rough to be so repulsive [but] I don't think it's important to always be liked especially in the journey of this magnitude," he continued.
The battle between brothers commences once the epic chariot race ensues. The past tellings of "Ben-Hur" are known for the chariot races, some which have even proven fatal for some of the stunt horsemen involved.
Riders have in fact lost their lives in both the original movie in 1925 and the 1959 version. This new and improved remake does not disappoint in its on-screen excitement but fortunately no one was hurt. However the British actor admitted that there was a close call.
"I'm not sure that the studio would be happy about it but a stuntman was thrown. Four horses carrying a chariot leapt clean over the fallen stuntman," Kebbell tells reporters, citing that he believes that avoided disaster might have been a divine intervention which he described as a "miracle."
The 34-year-old explained that the Romans built these chariots through rings that would help keep the moving chariot on both wheels at all times but in this particular moment the rig went up too high and popped, launching the stuntman.
"That threw him clean off. He falls onto the track and all four horses jump and he is left clean," Kebbell recalled.
According to the actor all ten of the horsemen in the 1929 version of "Ben-Hur" perished and in the 1959 version of the film, one of the horseman died.
"Ben-Hur" is now in theaters. For more information visit ShareBenHur.com.