Tag Archives: Roger Ebert

In Re: Leslie Nielsen’s “Ben Hur” ScreenTest

It’s interesting (to me ;) to note that the role Leslie Nielsen auditioned for in “Ben Hur” was the one that eventually went to Stephen Boyd.

I never much cared for Boyd as an actor, and have no idea how he got so much work in the 1960s. He’s wooden and uninteresting to watch. I speculate that he got selected over Nielsen for at least three reasons:

1) He looks meaner,
2) He’s generally darker complected with dark hair,
3) Nielsen’s coloring was too much like Charlton Heston’s, thus not distingushing them sufficiently when they were in the same scenes.

Nielsen looked more nothern European and, frankly, looked too nice to be chopping up Ben Hur’s wheels in the chariot race.

Maybe if he’d dyed his hair and sneered more in the screen test …