Actress and producer behind 'Ben-Hur' has a message amid 'violence and fear' in America

Posted July 21

With the release of their new film "Ben-Hur" quickly approaching, producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey teamed up with Christian band For King & Country to produce a new music video that they hope will send a powerful message.

Downey said that she's hoping that the film — and the accompanying video — will help to ease some of the tensions that many have felt surrounding the deaths of African-American men and police officers.

"'Ben-Hur' is a big-action adventure movie and it is a thrilling ride, but it holds deep within it a powerful message about forgiveness and reconciliation," she said. "In the last few weeks with all the violence and fear, tension and tears in our nation, these themes feel more important than ever."

Downey said that she and Burnett — her husband and producing partner — have known the members of For King & Country for quite some time, and that they recently approached the band to ask if they had any songs that would be a good fit for "Ben-Hur."

Watch the video here.

In the end, they agreed that the tune "Ceasefire" would be good for an accompanying music video for "Ben-Hur" — a feature film remake that is based on author Lew Wallace's 1880 novel "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ."

Downey and Burnett's adaptation follows the release of a number of other "Ben-Hur" movies that have been released in the last century; in particular, it follows a 1959 film by the same name that starred the late Charlton Heston.

Set in the first century, "Ben-Hur" tells the tale of fictional character Judah Ben-Hur, "a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army," according to a description provided by Paramount Pictures.

With that in mind, Downey said that the lyrics in "Ceasefire" not only apply to the themes in "Ben-Hur," but that they also speak to the broader issues that are unfolding in American society of late.

"The lyrics in 'Ceasefire' say, 'Teach us how to live humbly, love unconditionally, transform our hurt into hope, and grant us your peace,'" Downey said, explaining that the song is about forgiveness and reconciliation. "That is our prayer."

Watch the trailer for "Ben-Hur" here.

As for the film, Downey believes that audiences will be "thrilled" with the viewing experience, promising "big sequences [that are] dazzling." But in addition to being entertained, she said that there's a broader take-away embedded in the narrative.

"We see a man who has been brought to his knees, empty and angry, filled with the desire for revenge," she said. "Then, through an encounter with Jesus, he is forever changed. It's profoundly moving."

Downey is praying that the movie and the music video "will help transform hurt into hope" and will drive home the message that two wrongs will never make a right, as audiences watch how protagonist Ben-Hur is set free from his anger.

"Ben-Hur" will release in theaters nationwide on Aug. 19.

Burnett and Downey previously produced the TV series "The Bible" and "A.D." as well as the feature film "Son of God." Additionally, Burnett has created popular shows such as "Survivor" and "The Voice," with Downey starring in the hit show "Touched By an Angel" from 1994-2003.

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