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Roma Downey

In a monumental effort to recreate and produce the 1950s blockbuster “Ben-Hur” for modern audiences, Hollywood power couple Roma Downey and Mark Burnett took a page from Mel Gibson’s playbook. The duo shot a remake of the classic film in Matera, Italy — one of the same locations that Gibson used in his 2004 megahit “The Passion of the Christ.”

Downey, who screened clips of the film at a private event at the Sheen Center in New York City on Oct. 9, explained why they chose the location to bring their version of first century Jerusalem to life.

“Matera is absolutely gorgeous. It’s where Mel Gibson filmed ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ It’s a beautiful, interesting-looking town that’s carved out of rock and had all these caves and was able to provide for us on the film a geography and landscape of rocky terrain, because, of course, we couldn’t shoot in Jerusalem,” said Downey.

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Roma Downey Explains How ‘Passion of The Christ’ Film Location Helped Bring ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake To Life  was originally published on