Legendary Pictures is going big with its screen adaptation of John Milton’s 17th century Biblical poem, Paradise Lost. Alex Proyas (The Crow, I, Robot) is directing the expensive, effects-heavy project – which has previously been likened to “‘300′ meets Lord of the Rings,'” in terms of its grand scale and battle-heavy content.

A handful of important roles in the film have already been filled: those of the Archangels Michael (Benjamin Walker) and Lucifer (Bradley Cooper), along with the angel of death, Abdiel (Djimon Hounsou). Now a handful of other pivotal roles – including those of “original sinners” Adam and Eve – have possibly been claimed as well.

Variety has learned that Oscar-nominee Casey Affleck is negotiating to portray the messenger angel Gabriel in Proyas’ Paradise Lost. The site is also reporting that Camilla Belle has been offered – and looks to accept – the role of Eve, while musician/actor Diego Boneta is the frontrunner to play Adam.

The part of six-winged angel Gabriel would be a slight change of pace for Affleck, who has played either morally ambiguous, corrupt, or flat-out psychotic characters in his last three films (see: The Assassination of Jesse James…, Gone Baby Gone, The Killer Inside Me) – not including I’m Still Here, that is. He’s nonetheless a very versatile actor who can easily play a kinder breed of character. Plus, Affleck has the sort of soft features that physically make him a nice match for Gabriel, who is sometimes portrayed as a feminine or androgynous figure (by New Age exponents).

Belle is perhaps best known as the starlet of films like When a Stranger Calls and 10,000 B.C. – some might even remember her as the little girl who almost becomes dino chow in the beginning of The Lost World: Jurassic Park – though her best work has arguably been in independent productions like The Chumscrubber or The Ballard of Jack and Rose. All the same, she should be perfectly fine as the original woman, Eve.

Boneta, by comparison, might be recognizable by some for his work on the TV shows Pretty Little Liars and 90210 – however, his (potential) breakout role will be that of an aspiring musician in next year’s Rock of Ages. Perhaps most important of all – for now – is that Boneta kind of looks like the male version of Belle. So if she does sign on to play Eve,  he would be a good fit for Adam – as far as appearances go.

A couple of big names have worked on the Paradise Lost script at some point, including BAFTA nominee Stuart Hazeldine (Exam) and Oscar-nominee Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes BackRaiders of the Lost Ark). Combine that with Proyas lending his artistic sensibilities to the live-action project – which will boast plenty of CGI and include three grand-scale set pieces (in Heaven, Hell, and Eden) – and there’s little reason to doubt that the film will be an action-packed treatment of Milton’s original text.

Proyas has previously said that he is working with a literary scholar, to help ensure that his Paradise Lost – which the director promises will focus heavily on the struggle between Michael and Luficer – remains largely faithful to its source material. So that’s an encouraging sign for moviegoers who are worried that the dramatic and allegorical substance of Milton’s poem might get lost – amidst all the flashy effects and action.

Paradise Lost is expected to begin production by January 2012, with a late 2013 release date in mind.

Source: Variety