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Darren Aronofsky on Stormy Battle with Paramount Over ‘Noah’: “I Was Upset… There Was a Rough Patch”

Darren Aronofsky on Stormy Battle with Paramount Over 'Noah': "I Was Upset... There Was a Rough Patch"

Word got out back in October that Darren Aronofsky and Paramount were suffering stormy seas in terms of getting $125 million Biblical epic “Noah” to a final cut. Numerous test screenings — to different religious demographics — were producing “worrisome” results. Studio concern seemed to lie in how much or little the film was sticking to the original Biblical text — after all, they want a mega hit, along the lines of “The Passion of the Christ.” 

Now, Aronofsky has opened up to the Hollywood Reporter about his battles with the studio on the film. Highlights below.

“Noah” hits theaters March 28. (Trailer here.)

Aronofsky on Paramount’s decision to test-screen as many as half-a-dozen of its own cuts of “Noah” to Christian viewers:

“I was upset — of course. No one’s ever done that to
me… There was a rough patch.”

On subverting expectations about Noah as a character:

“We wanted to smash expectations of who Noah is. The
first thing I told Russell is, ‘I will never shoot you on a houseboat with two
giraffes behind you.’ … You’re going to see Russell Crowe as a superhero, a
guy who has this incredibly difficult challenge put in front of him and has to
overcome it.”

On creating a film for believers and non-believers alike:

“[I wanted to create] this fantastical world a la
Middle-earth that they wouldn’t expect from their grandmother’s Bible school.
[But it would also work for audiences] who take this very, very seriously as
gospel… I had no problem completely honoring and respecting everything in the
Bible and accepting it as truth.Of course, my production designer [Mark
Friedberg] had a million ideas of what it could look like, but I said, ‘No, the
measurements are right there.’ [Re: Genesis describing the Ark as a giant box].”

On test screening a film like ‘Noah’:

“I imagine if I made comedies and horror films, it
would be helpful. In dramas, it’s very, very hard to do.
I’ve never been open to it.”

On his confidence that his cut of ‘Noah’ would be the only workable one:

“My guys and I were pretty sure that because of the
nature of the film and how we work, there wasn’t another version. That’s what I
told them … the scenes were so interconnected — if you started unwinding
scenes, I just knew there would be holes. I showed it to filmmaker friends, and
they said the DNA was set in this film.”

I’m a great closer. I’ve never reshot a frame, and I think
that’s very odd on big-budget movies. We’re meticulous. We come from
independent film, with limited resources… It was pretty hard to keep working. But
we still brought it in on time.”

Paramount Vice Chair Rob Moore on the film’s non-literal interpretation of the “Noah” tale:

“This movie has a lot more creativity to it. And therefore,
if you want to put it on the spectrum, it probably is more accurate to say this
movie is inspired by the story of Noah… [The film reflects] the key themes of
the Noah story in Genesis — of faith and hope and God’s promise to mankind…Our
anticipation is that the vast majority of the Christian community will embrace

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