Darren Aronofsky has the pick of the crop when it comes to actors and actresses for his big-budget take on the famous Biblical story, Noah. Oscar-winner Russell Crowe is onboard to portray the titular prophet, who God charges with a divine mission: construct an enormous Ark, so as to shelter the various animals that inhabit Earth from an impending flood – which is meant to rebirth “a world ravaged by human sin.”

Rising young actors Douglas Booth and Logan Lerman are also confirmed as part of the Noah cast; furthermore, Crowe’s A Beautiful Mind costar, Jennifer Connelly, was said to still be a front-runner to sign on as Noah’s wife, Naameth.

It’s since been revealed that Harry Potter alum Emma Watson has entered talks to appear in Noah as Ila, the young woman who forms “a close relationship” with Noah’s son, Shem (Booth). Deadline broke the news about Watson having all but secured the role of Ila, which the site previously described as “a great role for a young actress.” Should Watson sign on for Noah, the move would also reunite her with her Perks of Being a Wallflower co-star (Lerman).

Variety confirmed the scoop in a separate report, revealing that Dakota Fanning had originally secured the role of Ila, before having to take a pass due to a scheduling conflict with the film Very Good Girls. Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan (Hanna) was also previously linked to the part, suggesting that the claim (from sources close to Fanning) about how the role of Ila had the potential to be “the greatest role of [Fanning’s] career” may not be quite the exaggeration you might’ve immediately thought.

Meanwhile, Golden Globe-nominated character actor Liev Schreiber (Wolverine, Defiance) is said to be the current frontrunner for the role of the film’s (sorta) antagonist: a man who seriously doubts Noah’s claims about being given a mission by God (Liam Neeson was long rumored for that part). Finally, although Connelly is still a solid contender for the role of Noah’s wife, four-time Oscar-nominee Julianne Moore reportedly has a chance of landing the job – assuming her commitment to the Carrie remake/re-interpretation doesn’t affect her availability.

That’s all to say: the opportunity to work with a technically-marvelous director like Aronofsky, drawing from a script he co-penned with Ari Handel (The Fountain) and John Logan (Hugo) – which, by the sound of it, features several meaty roles for both actors and actresses – accounts for the caliber of names either circling, or signed on for, Noah. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to this one.

Noah is slated to begin production this August, with a March 28th, 2014 U.S. theatrical release date in mind.

Source: Deadline, Variety