Love it or hate it, Noah is an intense undertaking, with an intense director. I love this story because it tells so much about what it takes to make a movie your way. Compromises lie around every corner, and one of the director's most difficult jobs is to stick to his guns.

Russell Crowe, crewcut and burly in a woollen shift, arrived on set, marched to the video monitors, and planted himself behind the director. A musk of cigarettes and resentment filled the air. It was 2:30 a.m. at Brooklyn’s Marcy Armory, during an ice storm in November, 2012. The room temperature was fifty-eight, and Crowe, who plays the title character in Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic “Noah,” was scheduled to get really wet. He’d already shot a version of the scene outdoors, in slightly warmer conditions: Noah, soaked from the deluge, peers at a battleground where a barbaric army surges toward him, seeking shelter in his ark. But Crowe’s eye line, the place his stare fell, had been too low, so now he had to do it all over again.

Aronofsky gazed at Crowe, waiting. His eyes, slightly narrow-set in a broad face, consider the world like a hypnotist’s. When I snap my fingers, you will wake and remember my entire film. At forty-five, he can seem youthful, even delicate: he revisits every conversation that keeps him from sleeping and wears a scarf in all weathers, suggesting a susceptibility to drafts and auteur theory. But on set he is unwavering. ‘Russell doesn’t like getting wet, and it’s fucking cold,’ he’d just told me. ‘I don’t want him to get sick, but’—he balanced scales—‘I need the shot.’

In his deepest, most Australian voice, Crowe said, ‘Now, just bear with the logic—the fighting out there isn’t real.’ Almost all of the sixty thousand people he was supposed to be looking at would be created by computers later. ‘So you could just move the fight.’ . . .
AuthorSheffield Leithart