Actor to play archangel in Stewart's thriller

Paul Bettany is set to star in “Legion,” a Screen Gems thriller that marks the feature directorial debut of Scott Stewart. Stewart wrote the script with Peter Schink.

The project was hatched by Bold Films, whose David Lancaster and Michel Litvak will produce. Gary Michel Walters will be exec producer. Sony acquired overseas rights to the property from Bold at Cannes and then took the rest of the film later.

Story follows what happens when God loses faith in humanity and sends his legion of angels to wipe out the human race for the second time. Mankind’s only hope lies in a group of misfits holed up in a diner in the desert who are aided by the archangel Michael (Bettany).

Stewart is a co-founder of visual effects house the Orphanage, but Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper said his rewrite showed an affinity for character over spectacle.

“I was so impressed with his rewrite that I took the meeting with him, and his visual presentation closed the deal,” Culpepper said. “I’m sure he had the same impact on Paul.”

Production begins in New Mexico in March.

Bettany is shooting “The Secret Life of Bees” for Fox Searchlight and will next be seen in “Young Victoria” and “Inkheart” for New Line.

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