NEW YORK -- Russell Crowe calls the criticism that the film "Noah" has received "irrational" and says he's happy audiences can finally see it for themselves.
Crowe spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday night at the New York premiere of the biblical epic, directed by Darren Aronofsky and featuring Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly, who were also at the event.
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"Noah" has been the subject of controversy with some religious groups claiming the story has been inaccurately portrayed. That has prompted Paramount Pictures to add a disclaimer to its marketing material saying "artistic license has been taken" in telling the story. The film has also been banned in many Islamic countries where it's taboo to depict a prophet.
"We have endured 12 to 14 months of irrational criticism and now people are starting to see it and to realize how respectful it is, and how true to the source material it is and how intense of an experience it is in the movie theater, you know, so that's cool," he said.
Emma Watson, who plays Ila, the wife of Noah's son Shem, says she wasn't surprised by the response to the film.
"To be honest, I expected there to be controversy, I think all Biblical adaptations carry the weight of that because it is something that is so personal to people," she said. "Everyone interprets it differently, but so far, the response has been really positive, and I think the film, when people see it, (they) will realize that it is very sensitive and inclusive ... I'm really proud of the movie."
Crowe said his decision to play the title role was in part swayed by the desire to work with Aronofsky.
"(It was) kind of a long-standing desire to work with Darren, and having watched him develop as a filmmaker, having sat around and getting close, but never actually working together," he said.
He added: "When he first came to talk to me about it, he brought a 40-page booklet of renderings of all the various sequences, sort of how he wanted the movie to look. And it was a combination of what he was going for and what was actually on the page that I felt would have a connection to people and that would resonate for me."
Aronofsky said it was exciting to take on "Noah" because "no one has done the Noah story on film and for me that was very strange. It is one of the oldest stories ever told, it is one of our greatest stories, and it should be on the silver screen, so it very exciting to bring something of this kind of scope and epic to the big screen."
"Noah" opens today theaters.