Noah: Russell Crowe Hoped to Meet Pope

Russell Crowe, the star of the upcmoning biblical epic Noah, had hoped to meet Pope Francis at the Pontiff’s weekly gathering in St. Peter’s Square. But Paramount is denying a report that the Vatican canceled a planned meeting.

“A meeting was never scheduled,” a Paramount spokesman said. A story posted today by Variety ran under the headline: “Pope Cancels Tentative ‘Noah’ Meeting With Russell Crowe.” The original headline did not include the word “tentative,” which was added after the studio objected.

In recent weeks, Crowe did repeatedly reach out to Pope Francis via Twitter asking that the Holy See screen Noah, Darren Aronofsky‘s upcoming biblical epic inspired by the story of Noah.

Crowe, who arrives in Rome today for a press junket and Tuesday’s Italian premiere of Noah, wanted to attend Wednesday’s papal general audience, a weekly gathering in St. Peter’s Square that includes prayers, a homily and a chance to personally meet Pope Francis, which the actor wanted to do.

Paramount reached out to the Vatican to propose a meeting, the studio said. Whether Aronofsky also would have participated hadn’t been determined.

But according to the studio, The Vatican told Paramount that Crowe’s appearance in St. Peter’s Square could disrupt and complicate the event because he is such a well-known star, and that it was best not to proceed. The studio said it understood and dropped the plan.

Paramount is in the midst of a worldwide press tour for Noah, which begins rolling out around the globe at the end of the month, including in North America, where it hits theaters March 28.

The movie, which has sparked criticism among some church leaders for its dark portrayal of Noah, hopes to lure both mainstream and faith-based audiences. To that end, Paramount tweaked its marketing materials to say Noah is “inspired” by the Old Testament story, versus a literal adaptation.