The British-American actress, who is of Iranian descent, plays Esther in the film - a role originally offered to Israeli star Gal Gadot - and Nazanin feels her casting is significant.

"First of all, I'm middle Eastern, I'm Iranian," she told U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America on Wednesday (17Aug16). "So to be playing a leading role in a big Hollywood movie, I think is possibly one of the first times (sic)."

"I love that she has the voice and that she's strong in a way that women haven't really been portrayed in this era," she added.

Israeli actress Haya Harareet played the role opposite Charlton Heston in the 1959 film.

The new movie stars Jack Huston in Heston's role as Judah Ben-Hur, Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus Christ and Morgan Freeman as Ilderim. It hits theatres in the U.S. on Friday (19Aug16).