Despite spending months filming "Ben Hur," actor Morgan Freeman said his view of God and religion hasn't changed in the least - but he does approve of the film's overtly Christian themes of faith, forgiveness, and redemption.
During a recent interview with the AFP, Freeman, who plays a Nubian sheik in the upcoming "Ben-Hur" remake, said that he is still an agnostic, he remains deeply interested in religion. In fact, the actor keeps a copy of the Quran and several Bibles in his home.
But while he doesn't adhere to Christianity, the 79-year-old actor said that the themes of grace, forgiveness, faith and redemption promoted in "Ben Hur" will be beneficial to all who watch the film.
"There's a lot of good stuff in this story that kind of informs us as humans - the idea of redemption, of tolerance, forgiveness, love. All of that makes us want to be better people," he explained.
Freeman also encouraged Americans to refrain from becoming discouraged amid this turbulent election year: "We are always going to pull through. Eventually, we are always going to realize we really are, as a people, on God's side," he said.
"Ben Hur" hits theaters on August 19 and follows the journey of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a Jewish prince in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, whose childhood friend and adoptive brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) became his mortal enemies because of the choices that they made in life, which brought a series of misfortune upon Ben-Hur.
After losing everything and spending five years as a Galley slave underneath a Roman battleship, Ben Hur is washed ashore after a shipwreck and is found by a wealthy Sheik Illderim (Freeman), who trains him to be a charioteer to get revenge on his brother. Together, they plot to defeat the Romans in the Romans' game of grand chariot racing.
In an earlier interview with The Gospel Herald, "Ben-Hur" executive producer Roma Downey shared how the film's message of forgiveness and reconciliation is so needed at "such a time as this," in light of the social unrest in this country and the wars and conflicts persisting abroad.
"It is our hope and prayer in that moment of (forgiveness) that this message (inspired by the words of Jesus himself) will resonate out to our country and out to the world," she said.
"For such a time as this when a message like this is needed more than ever," she added. "We are just grateful that we get to work on material that we love, and we get to combine what we can do with what we believe, and we get to do them with all these excellent people."