Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky spent the second half of 2011 searching for an actor to headline his Biblical re-telling, Noah. Oscar-winner Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises) and Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) were both heavily rumored for the part, before Russell Crowe entered the conversation.
Now that Crowe is officially set to headline Noah, the remaining casting spots are expected to be filled quickly - seeing how principal photography on the $130 million project is slated to get underway this summer.
Liam Neeson has long been rumored as a possibility to play the film's "villain," a man who doubts that Noah has been "given a divine mission [to] build an Ark to save creation from the coming flood." In addition, it was previously indicated that both Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly and Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan (Hanna) were essentially set to appear in Aronofsky's film - playing the roles of Noah's wife and daughter-in-law, respectively.
According to the latest report from Deadline, Neeson is not going to be involved with Noah; however, Connelly remains "in the mix" for the female lead role. Meanwhile, young actors Douglas Booth (The Pillars of the Earth) and Logan Lerman (Perks of Being a Wallflower) are set to portray Noah's sons, Shem and Ham.
While Deadline's article makes no specific mention of Ronan, it does feature a line about how the film has "a great role for a young actress, the love interest for Noah's oldest son" which is still up for grabs. Add it all up, and that's probably the role that Ronan's been rumored for - and could eventually land, now that Disney has halted progress on Order of the Seven (a would-be starring vehicle for Ronan, originally set to begin filming this year).
Between the potential reunion of A Beautiful Mind duo Crowe and Connelly, plus Aronofsky as director (who previously worked with Connelly on Requiem for a Dream) - drawing from a screenplay based on the original Noah graphic novel created by Aronofsky and Ari Handel (The Fountain), which was reworked by John Logan (The Aviator, Hugo) - there's very little about this project which doesn't scream "awards contender."
However, Aronofsky's Noah is expected to bear a strong resemblance to an apocalyptic blockbuster such as Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow. Much like Emmerich did with the latter, Aronofsky has voiced an interest in highlighting the theme of "environmental apocalypse" with his interpretation of the Noah story, as he perceives the film's namesake to be the "first environmentalist."
It's partially for that reason that Noah won't be hitting theaters until March 2014, rather than Awards Season in 2013. Given the prestigious talent involved, coupled with the well-known Biblical content and heavy use of visual effects, New Regency/Paramount is hoping that Noah will emulate the box office success of past blockbusters that launched during that month (see: 300, The Hunger Games).
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of Noah as the film gears up to begin production, with the aforementioned March 28th, 2014 release date in mind.