Christian Bale to star in Ridley Scott’s Old Testament saga

Christian Bale is set to play Moses in Ridley Scott's retelling of the story of the biblical hero, according to Deadline. The suggestion follows reports last week that Steven Spielberg has left rival Moses project Gods and Kings, with Oscar-winning Life of Pi director Ang Lee tipped to replace him.

Deadline reports that 20th Century Fox is moving forward a pace with its take on Moses, which is titled Exodus, as confusion surrounds the future of rival studio Warner Bros's proposed version. Bale is being lined up to star and Scott's American Gangster screenwriter Steve Zaillian has signed on to do a rewrite. The US blog says Scott could make it his next project as director after completing work on The Counselor, his forthcoming thriller based on novelist Cormac McCarthy's debut screenplay.

Spielberg's Moses film was previously described as an epic biopic of the Israelite leader in a gritty Braveheart-meets-Saving-Private-Ryan style. Scott, meanwhile, was expected to plump for a detailed reworking which would focus on the minutiae of his subject's life, such as the leader's relationship with Pharaoh Rameses II, as well as more famous episodes.

The most famous Hollywood retelling of the Moses story is the 1956 Cecil B DeMille epic The Ten Commandments, which starred Charlton Heston in the lead role and was one of the highest grossing films of its era. It received seven Academy award nominations including best picture, and also won the Oscar for best visual effects, thanks largely to its famous parting of the Red Sea scene.

Given the history of Moses on the big screen, both films are likely to require enormous budgets. There is therefore the strong possibility of one movie's backers withdrawing should their project find itself lagging behind in the race to multiplexes. It has happened before to some well-established film-makers, notably Baz Luhrmann, whose Alexander the Great biopic was canned in the wake of Oliver Stone's 2004 film Alexander hitting cinemas. – guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013

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