Jack Huston has been working hard on the transition from playing the fan favourite Richard Harrow on “Boardwalk Empire” to becoming a bankable movie star.
Playing the lead in Paramount’s big-budget remake of “Ben-Hur” last summer was supposed to be the next step, but those hopes were dashed by the movie’s disappointing box office, as it earned only $94 million worldwide (it had a budget of $100 million).
Huston was at the Sundance Film Festival supporting his new movie, “The Yellow Birds” over the weekend (which also stars young Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich), and he didn’t shy away from sharing his thoughts on “Ben-Hur” flopping when talking to Business Insider.
“When I went into the movie I had a very candid conversation with everyone and I said, ‘We’re going to get nailed,'” Huston said, stating he knew that audiences would never be able to separate this with the Charlton Heston 1959 classic he grew up on.
But Huston admits he couldn’t resist a character with so many layers like Judah Ben-Hur. Though Huston said that he and director Timur Bekmambetov had different plans for Ben-Hur in their movie.
“We did something very different in that Judah was never a hero,” he said. “I wanted the audience to almost be guessing who was going to win the chariot race. What I found so interesting was we could recreate this amazing character.”
But the powers-that-be at Paramount didn’t feel the same way. Huston said filming the movie was seamless but that post production was “not easy.”
“You hire a filmmaker, go with the filmmaker’s vision,” said Huston, who added that he saw numerous version of the movie in post. “The movie kind of breaks my heart because I know what we did and it’s very hard when there’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen.”
However, Huston — who is part of an iconic Hollywood family as he’s the grandson of director John Huston and great-grandson of actor Walter Huston — knows all too well how the system works. In the hopes of having a louder voice behind the scenes going forward, since the release of “Ben-Hur” Huston has created the production company CYSA Productions. He said he currently has 14 projects in different stages of development for TV and movies.
“I learned so much from ‘Ben-Hur,’ the whole process was invaluable,” he said. “And I stand by my performance in it because it was a real choice. I know there was a much better film there that we created, it just got lost.”
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