Rodrigo Santoro (300, Jane Got a Gun), who will portray Jesus Christ in the upcoming remake of the classic Ben-Hur, received a warm papal welcome in Vatican City this week: the actor not only met Pope Francis, but was blessed by him as well.
Upon adventuring around Rome, where Ben-Hur is currently in production, Santoro and co-star Nazanin Boniadi (Showtime’s Homeland) found themselves in Vatican Square taking Papal Audience. Boniadi captured the moment between Pope Francis and Santoro in a photograph posted on Instagram:
Originating from Brazil, Santoro is most recognizable for his roles as the soft-spoken hunk in Love Actually and the divine emperor Xerxes in 300. His most recent finished work includes Will Smith‘s crime drama Focus as well as The 33, detailing the Chilean mining disaster of 2010.
While Santoro plays the Messiah in the remake of the epic drama, Jack Huston (American Hustle, Kill Your Darlings) snagged the title character, Ben-Hur. Morgan Freeman (Lucy, The Lego Movie) is also starring, along with Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel, Angels & Demons) and Sofia Black D’Elia (Project Almanac, The Immigrant). Ben-Hur is helmed by director Timur Bekmambetov, known for his films Night Watch, Day Watch, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Pope Francis’s blessing of a Hollywood actor is not too farfetched. Having made headlines with his favorable opinions toward women’s rights, the LGBT community, and the poor, the pope’s many charities and blessings have gained him a title as the “People’s Pope.” Santoro’s personal blessing, therefore, may be sensational, but it’s not quite miraculous.