The search continues for a credible actor to take on the iconic lead role in director Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, an expensive cinematic retelling of the famous Biblical tale that is slated to begin production by Summer 2012. While big names such as Christian Bale and Michael Fassbender have been previously broached about the titular part, neither one was able to accept the “challenge” (due largely to scheduling conflicts, it seems).

Aronofsky has reportedly decided on a new candidate to take on the part of the eponymous prophet – namely, Oscar-winner (and all around busy actor) Russell Crowe. Furthermore, the Black Swan helmer is said to want Liam Neeson to tackle a pivotal supporting part in the $130 million production.

In its report, Deadline admits that Crowe hasn’t worked out an actual deal to appear in Noah just yet, but that “signs are pointing that way.” The decorated New Zealander has been working pretty hard of late, appearing in films such as The Man with the Iron Fists and Man of Steel, with Broken City being the current item on his to-do list. However, he should be available to commit to the Aronofsky project, seeing how Crowe will have completed work on Broken City – and have his turn as Inspector Javert in director Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables musical adaptation wrapped up – by the time shooting on Noah gets going.

While Neeson’s potential part in Noah hasn’t been officially revealed yet, there’s a good chance he’s up for the “villain” role mentioned recently by Aronofsky’s stalwart cinematographer, Matthew Libatique. That is, Neeson would play the Doubting Thomas to Crowe’s Noah, ie. one of the protagonist’s peers, who constantly questions whether he is truly performing God’s will – or is merely delusional.

Crowe and Neeson are an acting dream team – previously featured onscreen together in the 2010 thriller The Next Three Days. Noah would undoubtedly offer both of these experienced leading men juicier parts to sink their (acting) teeth in, given both the emotionally powerful and thematically-rich nature of the famous Biblical story. Not to mention, when both these stars are at their finest, their screen presence is something to behold – and, with Aronofsky directing, the pair are guaranteed to bring their acting A-games.

Russell Crowe may take on the part of ‘Noah’ (pictured above in graphic novel form)

An earlier draft of the Noah script has already been realized in graphic novel form, as written by Aronofsky and Ari Handel (The Fountain). Hugo screenwriter John Logan rewrote their script for the film adaptation of Noah, which will finally see Aronofsky working with a sizable studio budget – after his originally-planned, more costly cinematic version of The Fountain fell apart during pre-production. Not to mention, of course, Aronofsky’s decision to withdraw from directing The Wolverine (a.k.a. Wolverine 2) last year.

Noah will nonetheless be a very different sort of nine-figure Hollywood project, seeing how it aims to deliver wondrous apocalyptic imagery and spectacle on a par with films like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, while also weaving in a very adult story full of religious and social taboos (heavy drinking, incest, etc.) based on the original Biblical text.

Paramount is eying a Fall 2013 theatrical release date for Noah, with the clear intention to position the film as an awards contender that year. Given the high caliber of talent working behind the scenes and the cast being assembled, that’s definitely a wise move.

We will continue to keep you updated on the status of Noah as more information is released.

Source: Deadline