Benjamin Walker in Negotiations For Proyas’s PARADISE LOST

Posted on 04 August 2011 by Rich Drees

Benjamin Walker is currently in negotiations to star opposite Bradley Cooper in director Alex Proyas’s epic tale of the birth of evil Paradise Lost, adapted from the classic poem by Milton. Walker, who just wrapped his work as the title character in 20th Century Fox’s upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, will be playing Michael, the archangel who stands against fellow archangel Lucifer (Bradley Cooper) in a war that will span Heaven, Hell and the Garden of Eden.

Proyas is currently in Sydney, Australia prepping the film for a January production start. The Dark City director had been working for seven years to get the project into production. He started with a screenplay by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi, although Stuart Hazeldine and Lawrence Kasdan both did subsequent work on it. The latest draft by Ryan Condal is what got the project a greenlight.

Deadline, who broke the story of Walker’s casting, spoke with Proyas who described the film thusly –

It’s not just armies battling in an epic war… This is an adventure about the origins of good and evil after Lucifer’s rebellion gets him cast out of Heaven and leads to a struggle with his brother archangel over the soul of mankind, starting with Adam and Eve. That is the scope of the narrative here, and we’ve tried to say as faithful as possible to Milton’s text, particularly its focus on Lucifer’s evolution and the birth of evil. It’s a family saga, about a group of brothers, two in particular, who are on divergent paths, and Lucifer’s feelings of betrayal by his father and family that forge his descent into evil.

I’ve sometimes thought that only an insane person would want to make this movie, because it’s visually audacious and has to live up to a classic poem that is so beloved. . . I don’t think the visuals could have been done justice until now, which is the great fun of being a film director in this modern age of visual effects. Despite all those possibilities, the characters are what’s most important. His deal isn’t closed yet, but I think there’s a wonderful duality about Ben’s persona, this combination of great strength and perfect innocence that works so well for Michael. And Bradley is the most charming guy you’ll ever meet, with this extraordinary charisma. Lucifer was the brightest and smartest of the archangels, and even as he descended into evil and evolved into Satan, he’s not just some black-and-white villain. Bradley brings extraordinary depth to that journey.

Pulling this off well would be a challenge for any director, and I think that Proyas has a good shot at doing so. His Dark City delved into themes of good and evil and whether man’s capacity to do good or evil is a product of his nature or his environment. Paradise Lost looks to thematically exploring similar ideas but on a much grander scale. We’ll find out if he succeeds at some point in 2013.

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