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Russell Crowe takes us behind the scenes of the biblical epic 'Noah'

Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe
Paramount Pictures

“Noah” is the movie version of the biblical story about a man named Noah and the epic journey that he and his family take on an ark. Russell Crowe stars as Noah in the film, which is directed and co-written by Darren Aronofsky. “Noah” reunites Crowe with Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, his co-star in 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind.” Crowe and Connelly play husband and wife in both movies. Connelly and Crowe also co-starred in the 2014 movie "Winter's Tale."

Russell Crowe at "Noah" photocall in Rio de Janeiro
Getty Images

The cast of “Noah” also includes Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Douglas Booth and Logan Lerman. As with any movie based on a Biblical story, people may or may not agree with what is on screen. “Noah” (also released in IMAX) has gotten a lot of publicity and some controversy for how the story is interpreted. Here is what Crowe said about “Noah” at the Los Angeles press junket for the movie.

What attracted you to make the “Noah” movie?

I’ve been a fan of Darren’s work for quite some time — the director Darren Aronofsky — so it was kind of one of those calls you want to receive. So that was an intriguing phone call to get. And when he first called me, he said, “I want to tell you the title of the movie, but don’t say anything after I tell you the title. I want to make you two promises.”

He said, “The title of the film is ‘Noah.’ Here are the two promises. Promise No. 1: You don’t have to wear sandals. And Promise No. 2: I’ll never have you on the bow of a ship glanced by a giraffe and an elephant.”

So that was a humorous beginning to a very serious journey, but it kind of let me know he had an original perspective on how he was going to tell the tale.

In what ways do you feel Darren Aronofsky’s vision of “Noah” is different from the biblical tale?

That’s an interpretive thing. You’re making a rash assumption that I would think there’s something different. I’m not so sure there is something vastly different at all. It’s just an interpretation.

There are very few lines in the Bible, very few specific lines that tell the story. So if you’re going to make that narrative tale into a feature film, you’ve got to fill in some of those gaps.

Because the story of Noah in the Bible is relatively brief, what did you use to flesh out the character of Noah?

I just reduced it to human terms. Some religions say Noah is a prophet. Some people talk of him in terms of him having sort of superhero status, but he was just a man who was given a particularly heavy task and quite a burden to carry.

I understand why there would be an interpretation of Noah as a prophet, just as you understand that in the Catholic religion, some people become saints. It’s a human journey that I had to focus on. That’s all you really can focus on.

How would you describe the family dynamic in “Noah”?

That’s probably one of the greater things about the film, at its core. It really is this family drama. There’s a task to be fulfilled, a very determined person who’s got to get the job done, as he says at one point to his son. But it’s very easy to talk about, in terms of being relentless in the pursuit of something.

But quite often, a personality type like that is going to cause problems for other people. So I think focusing on the human aspects, the emotional aspects of the stories are what people are appreciating about the film. That’s why the response is so intense.

What was your reaction when you saw Noah’s ark for the first time? And how helpful was it that the ark was built to real-life scale?

The first time I saw it was from the air. I went into that particular location via helicopter because we’d come in from Iceland, and that was the fastest way to get there. It was kind of breathtaking to come over the top of that set and see the scale of it. It gives you a lot.

If we were just poncing about on a soundstage with just green screen, it just wouldn’t have been the same feeling. To be able to stand on an interior set and on the ground level look up three stories and feel the scale and the weight of the burden, it brought a lot to it. Without it, it would have been a very different experience.

For more info: "Noah" website