Jack Huston is the latest actor to take on the role of Judah Ben-Hur in the big-screen retelling of the biblical fiction Ben- Hur . In the story, Judah epically beats the odds when everything, and I mean everything, is working against him (the story has been re-imagined for over three decades now, so this technically isn’t a spoiler). Although Huston isn’t pals with Jesus Christ and doesn’t partake in the usual chariot race in real life, his story actually has a very strong parallel to that of his character — when it comes to overcoming improbability, that is. While promoting the film in Los Angeles over the weekend, the actor told Bustle why he almost let his own fear of failure cause him to quit a career in Hollywood altogether, and he revealed the one callback that changed it all.
“This job is a funny one,” says the 33-year-old. “I took a jump… where I was about to leave the business because I was a little disenchanted with everything.” Huston says that being complacent in his career ultimately made him feel discouraged and uninspired. “I was going up for roles I didn’t feel any relation to, but I was doing it to work. By that, you sort of maybe fall a bit out of love with what you do, and I’ve always been someone who loves what I do in every aspect of life,” he says.
And then a little show called Boardwalk Empire came along. Huston said he received the “really interesting script” and was actually asked to read for a role other than grade-A badass Richard Harrow. “I read [it] and said, ‘You know what? I’ll take a shot,’” Huston says. It was the first time he was cast from an audition tape that he shot and submitted himself. “I was like, ‘I’ll take one last whack at this,’ because I didn’t care about losing for the first time.”
And we all know how the rest of that epic story goes.
“When you talk about overcoming things, I think it’s overcoming your own fear of failure. I was always doing what I thought was the right thing to do rather than doing the things that I wanted to do,” he explains. Letting go and coming to this realization was not only freeing for the actor, but changed the course of his entire life. “The moment I started realizing that you’re never gonna be right for every role, but you should be focusing on the roles that you are right for, at least, or the ones you believe in,” Huston says.
From then on, every project for Huston has been one of passion. “It was a very good turning moment in my own brain of [realization],” he says. Luckily, his revival has lasted. “Stay in love with what you do. Love it as much as you possibly can, because I want to attempt to work everyday excited and ready to do the work and really put it in there,” Huston claims.
Ever since Huston’s realization, he’s whole-heartedly gone after what he wants, even if it takes a leap of faith. Clearly, it’s working for him. “[The] two studios couldn’t have been more supportive, taking a jump with me [with Ben-Hur]. I never thought I’d get this role, I was like, you’re gonna go for some massive movie star,” he says. “But I had the passion and love for it.”
When seeing how committed of an actor Huston is, especially in this film, it’s mind-boggling to think he almost gave up acting, because it is very obviously his gift. With rigorous training and weight loss (30 pounds), Huston admits there were days when he’d say, “I’m feeling broken. I literally can’t do it.” But there he’d be, doing it and completely crushing it. “It taught me a lot about how resilient we are as human beings. We are so much more capable than we give ourselves credit for,” he says. “This was very much a constant test.”
We’re not all actors, but Huston’s turning point is still extremely inspiring. And seriously, thank god he didn’t give up acting. Here’s hoping that he never thinks about quitting ever again.
Images: Giphy (3); Paramount (2)