Emma Watson called to ‘Noah’ role

Will play a young girl rescued by Noah

Emma Watson is in talks for the young female lead in Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah,” and would play Ila, a young girl Noah rescues who later experiences a miracle.

The biblical epic is set to star Russell Crowe as the title character, while Jennifer Connelly has been rumored to play his faithful wife Naameth — though sources tell Variety that Julianne Moore is also in contention for that role, which Moore could shoot after she wraps MGM’s “Carrie” remake, provided her schedule doesn’t present the same problems that it did for Dakota Fanning.

Fanning had to bow out from the Ila role due to a contentious scheduling conflict with Naomi Foner’s indie “Very Good Girls.”

Fanning’s reps spent two weeks trying to work out the scheduling issues but they proved too daunting to overcome. While “Noah” doesn’t start filming until August, Fanning would’ve had to report for work on July 20 to rehearse with the rest of the cast and undergo wardrobe and makeup tests. “Very Good Girls” starts production around late June/early July, and Fanning wouldn’t have wrapped her role in time.

Complicating matters was “Very Good Girls” producer Norton Herrick, who dug in his heels and created a standoff that forced Fanning to walk away from what sources close to the actress describe as “potentially the greatest role of her career.”

When reached by Variety, Herrick denied any bad blood and said he looks forward to working with Fanning on “Very Good Girls,” which also stars Elizabeth Olsen, Peter Sarsgaard and Demi Moore. Previous reports from the blogosphere pegged Saoirse Ronan for the young female lead and Liam Neeson as the antagonist of the film, though those reports were inaccurate; Liev Schreiber has since emerged as a leading contender for that role.

Paramount and New Regency had no comment.

Watson, repped by WME and Markham, Froggatt and Irwin, has shined since graduating from the “Harry Potter” franchise: She co-starred alongside Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh in “My Week With Marilyn” and recently wrapped Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring.” She’s currently filming a small role as herself in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s directorial debut “The End of the World” and next stars in Summit’s teen drama “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

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