Alex Proyas' ambitious adaptation of John Milton's Paradise Lost is beginning to come fully come together now after long years in development. Bradley Cooper is already attached to play fallen angel Lucifer, and now Benjamin Walker looks set to join the production as the Archangel Michael, Lucifer's opposite number for the war in Heaven.
It's another hot role for the actor, who had small roles in Kinsey and Flags of Our Fathers, but beat off strong competition for the lead role in Timur Bekmambetov's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He'll go straight from battling the undead to battling that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world.
Proyas is planning to turn Milton's 17th Century blank verse into a sprawling fantasy epic, heavy on the "soaring set pieces". He tells Deadline that there will be three major battle scenes in the film to rival The Lord of the Rings and 300: one in Heaven, one in Hell and one in Eden.
"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," he says. But he's keen to stress that "It's not just armies battling in an epic war. This is an adventure about the origins of good and evil. 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."
Proyas says that he thinks Walker's personality, combining "great strength and perfect innocence" will be spot-on for Michael, particularly when pitted against the dangerous charisma of Bradley Cooper. "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."
Shooting is scheduled to finally start in January, giving Cooper time to rack up The Silver Linings Playbook. Expect a release for Paradise Lost towards the end of 2013. If you're not sure you can wait that long, may we recommend TV's Supernatural, season 5, while you're waiting?