Australian superstar Russell Crowe is set to star as Noah in a new biblical epic that is being directed by Darren Aronofsky, famed director of such dark and stylish films as Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan. Production on the film about Noah’s Ark — to be called, simply, Noah — started this month as the crew began shooting on location in Iceland and New York. An A-list cast of actors join Crowe in the film, including fellow Academy Award winners Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Connelly, as well as Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame.
“I’d like to thank Paramount and Regency for backing my team’s work to breathe new life into the biblical epic,” Aronofsky said in a press release. “I rejoice that Russell Crowe will be by my side on this adventure. It’s his immense talent that helps me to sleep at night. I look forward to being wowed by him every day.”
Noah will be “a close adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark. In a world ravaged
by human sin, Noah is given a divine mission: to build an Ark to save creation from the coming flood,” the press release by Paramount Pictures and New Regency explained.
It is said that not only was director Aronofsky seeking Crowe for the film but Crowe, mutually, was eyeing the project to play Noah, once he heard about it, personally pursuing the role. The actor’s desire for the role may, in fact, have some spiritual motivations since Crowe is a believing Christian.
A few years ago, Crowe built a Byzantine Christian chapel on his country ranch in Australia. He made sure that the chapel was consecrated and originally planned to built it for his family. He used the space to marry actress Danielle Spencer in 2003 and, later, after the couple had children, to baptize their two sons, Charlie and Tennyson.
Russel Crowe’s turn to the spiritual life, to Christianity and nourishing his family’s faith, comes after some rebellious years of struggling with public temper tantrums and drinking. In his own life, he has been able to see that something greater has led him to the peaceful place that he is in today, in his family life and career. Crowe has spoken quite deeply about spiritual issues, revealing lots of thought and introspection about life’s bigger questions. He once pondered: “I do believe there are more important things than what is in the mind of a man. There is something much bigger that drives us all. I’m willing to take that leap of faith.”
That leap of faith refers to Crowe’s own baptism, which followed those of his children. He explained: “My mom and dad decided to let my brother and me make our own decisions about God when we got to the right age. I started thinking recently, `If I believe it is important to baptize my kids, why not me?”
Noah has been given an expected release date of March 28, 2014.
It is refreshing and — let’s face it — quite unique to see Hollywood release a major biblical epic with A-list actors. When is the last time that we have seen this? Probably decades ago. Consider that even when Mel Gibson came out with The Passion of the Christ he had to release the film through his own production company — Icon — since no major Hollywood studio wanted to touch the project. Given what a success The Passion became worldwide, reaching an international audience on a deeper level, perhaps Hollywood has finally learned its lesson.
(For more on the Christian faith of A-list actors in Hollywood — from Nicole Kidman to Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg — click here for my earlier article, “The Faith of the Famous”.)