Exciting news: Darren Aronofsky’s anticipated Noah, which recounts the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark, is about to set sail. Deadline confirms that the director will begin shooting on the period epic in July, with Russell Crowe in the lead role.

Pre-production on Noah could be described as “choppy.” The director allegedly considered Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman for his title role (having a history with the latter thanks to their brilliant collaboration on The Fountain). But scheduling conflicts kept Aronofsky’s casting couch open until he settled on Crowe.

To me, it’s inspired casting, as Crowe hasn’t appeared challenged by a role since 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma, and Aronofsky repeatedly gets the best out of his leads, be it Jackman, Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) or Natalie Portman (Black Swan). The idea of Crowe batting it around with Aronofsky sends chills, especially if it’s on a project of this size and scope.

“The imaginations of countless generations have sparked to this epic story of faith,” Aronofsky said of his Noah “It’s my hope that I can present a window into Noah’s passion and perseverance for the silver screen.”

And it’s the hope of Aronofsky’s producing partners at Arnon Milchan’s New Regency that Noah can represent a return to edgier, more-character-driven dramas like the studio used to put its name on. As Deadline notes, Milchan’s influence helped make Fight Club, Heat and the outstanding L.A. Confidential with Crowe. Hopefully by trusting a storyteller of Aronofsky’s talents, we’ll all benefit from a Noah’s Ark story that redefines the legend and shatters the mold for Biblical dramas.

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