UPDATE: Russell Crowe officially will be taking on the role of Noah in Darren Aronofsky's "Noah," a "close adaptation" of the story from the Book of Genesis according to a press release.
"I rejoice that Russell Crowe will be by my side on this adventure," Aronofsky said in a statement. "It's his immense talent that helps me to sleep at night. I look forward to being wowed by him every day."
Neeson's casting remains unconfirmed.
"And yea, the Lord spake to Noah, saying you are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. And at least one of these should have an Academy Award, and verily, the other should be a huge box office draw, lest the flood not get the green light." — The Book of Darren Aronofsky, translation by indieWire.
Or in other words, Aronofsky's biblical epic "Noah" is back on track — and Russell Crowe and Liam Neeson may be the latest beasts of the earth to enter the ark. Hey, when it rains, it pours.
In case you somehow managed to nap through Sister Mary's eighth grade history class without getting rapped on the knuckles with a straight ruler, here's a little reminder for you: "Noah" tells the tale of a Roland Emmerich style disaster where a lunatic builds a huge boat in order to survive a flood he's been warned about by a voice in his head. It's a lot like "2012" only with more giraffes.
And it's also proven to be a difficult nut to crack for Oscar winning "Black Swan" director Aronofsky, who has previously considered both Christian Bale and Michael Fassbender for the lead role. With Bale pretty much tied up right now doing other things, though, Aronofsky has been forced to keep searching for a proven, bankable star in order to justify the film's $130 million dollar budget.
That's where Crowe and Neeson come in, as both men have major box office cache as well as critical clout. The idea appears to be that Crowe would play Noah, while Neeson would be playing the film's villain, whom we assume is not the human embodiment of a giant wave but probably is one of the naysayers who thinks Noah is a crackpot.
"Noah" is tentatively scheduled to shoot this summer for a 2013 release date, assuming the Mayan apocalypse doesn't destroy the world first. As the story of Noah proves, you just never know with these things now do you.
(Originally published on Feb. 2, 2012, at 10:29 a.m. ET)